There are many idioms about health and illness in the 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 English conversations between friends, coworkers or relatives. So let’s have a look.
Scroll down for 2 video lessons:
- Under the Weather – idiom meaning
- Illness vs Sickness – what’s the difference?
Table of Contents
English Idioms about Health - Examples
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10 English Idioms about Health and Illness
to knock someone for six
Meaning: an illness (or perhaps bad news) that really affects somebody
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.
to feel under the weather
Meaning: not feeling very well
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
under the weather meaning – video lesson
a wake-up call
Meaning: something that brings you to your senses and makes you focus on business or your life or something as important
His recent health problems were a wake-up call for him to lose weight and get fit.
a shadow of your former self
Meaning: 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.
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)
Intermediate to Advanced English Marathon
to kick the bucket
Meaning: a slang way to say that someone has passed away
John read about his friend’s death over the internet. He wrote to David and asked him how their friend had kicked the bucket.
to take the wind out of his sails
Meaning: to slow someone down or to effect someone negatively
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.
Scroll down for 4 more
Difference between Illness and Sickness
Difference between Illness and Sickness - Video Lesson
the worse for wear
Meaning: someone is very tired, ill or injured or something is in bad condition
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.
on the mend
Meaning: recovering after an illness or injury
He suffered a heart attack last week and thankfully he is on the mend.
out of sorts
Meaning: a little unwell
Sarah, unfortunately, won’t be joining us tonight, she’s feeling a little out of sorts.
on its last legs
Meaning: near the end of life, in poor condition
Example: A year ago he looked like he was on his last legs but the situation has clearly changed for the better.