There are many idioms about health and illness in English language. As much as we all want to stay in good health, sometimes we get colds and don’t feel very well.
I decided to pick 10 idioms about health for you. These health idioms are quite common in everyday conversations between friends, coworkers or relatives. So let’s have a look.
Scroll down for a video lesson – Under the Weather idiom meaning.
English Idioms about Health - Examples
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10 English Idioms about Health and Illness
1. KNOCK SOMEONE FOR SIX
an illness (or perhaps bad news) that really affects somebody
e.g. The doctor confirmed it was a fever. He spent two weeks in bed and was very weak, it really knocked him for six.
The reference to six refers to the English game of cricket. In this game the highest single score you can make is a SIX. In cricket it’s a good score but if you are ill and knocked for six it’s not good.
2. TO FEEL UNDER THE WEATHER
not feeling very well
e.g. He went to work but did not feel well. He went home early as he was feeling under the weather.
To explain in more detail what does UNDER THE WEATHER mean, I have this YouTube English learning video for you:
Under the Weather Meaning - Video Lesson
3. A WAKE-UP CALL
something that brings you to your senses and makes you focus on business or your life or something as important
e.g. The bombings in the city were a wake-up call for the authorities that they should increase the security at airports and railway stations.
4. A SHADOW OF YOUR FORMER SELF
you do not look like or act like you did previously. This could be as a result of a large weight loss or the effects of old age or of a serious illness.
e.g. Michael dieted and exercised for 3 months and lost 2 stone. His friends were very surprised he was a shadow of his former self. (1 stone=6.35029 kg)
5. TO KICK THE BUCKET
a slang phrase referring to the fact that someone has passed away
e.g. John read about his friend’s death over the internet. He wrote to David and asked him how their friend had kicked the bucket.
6. TO TAKE THE WIND OUT OF HIS SAILS
to slow someone down or to effect someone negatively
e.g. The flu epidemic swept through the city. Michael was off work for a week. It really took the wind out of his sails and it took him a while to get his strength back.
The reference to “wind in your sails” concerns sailing boats. When they wish to move they put up the sails to catch the wind. When there is no wind in the sails the boat cannot move.
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7. THE WORSE FOR WEAR
someone is very tired, ill or injured or something is in bad condition
e.g. I think it’s time to replace my old fashioned kitchen, it looks the worse for wear.
Not having slept, he was the worse for wear.
8. ON THE MEND
recovering after an illness or injury
e.g. He suffered a heart attack last week and thankfully he is on the mend.
9. OUT OF SORTS
a little unwell
e.g. Sarah unfortunately won’t be joining us tonight, she’s feeling a little out of sorts.
10. ON ITS LAST LEGS
near the end of life, in poor condition
e.g. A year ago he looked like he was on his last legs but the situation has clearly changed for the better.