10 Idioms about Health and Illness

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  • Post last modified:02/05/2023
  • Post category:English Idioms
  • Reading time:8 mins read

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. british council learn english

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: 

  1. Under the Weather – idiom meaning
  2. Illness vs Sickness – what’s the difference?

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List of Idioms about Health and Illness

English Idioms about Health - Examples

10 English Idioms about Health #learnenglish #englishlessons #englishteacher #ingles

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)

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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, but thankfully he is on the mend.

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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


A year ago, he looked like he was on his last legs, but the situation has clearly changed for the better.

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More Information

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