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Idioms with animals

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Are you a big fun of animals? Have you ever had a pet which you loved even more than your friends? Then how about learning some idioms with animals? They can definitely show a good command of English when used and are also really fun.


To be as busy as a bee or  as busy as a beaver

bee on the computer                                    busy beaver cutting wood

I'm sure that even if bees scare you or annoy you, you do like honey, or at least you're fond of it. Well you must know that bees work really hard to produce it and that's why we see them present in this idiom. To be as busy as a bee means to be hard-working and work really fast. I guess beavers are also very talented at building their nests and there you go. They've earned being a part of this idiom too.

I don't think you can talk to him right know; he looks as busy as a bee.

The cat gets sb's tongue

This is what somebody can say about you if you are very shy and usually keep quiet because of that.

Why are you so quiet Linda? Has the cat got your tongue? 

Did you notice here the use of the present perfect? Usually the verb get is found in the present perfect or the simple past.

To kill two birds with one stone


two birds one stone

This is one of my favourite animal idioms. I certainly don't mind birds and definitely don't want to kill them by throwing stones at them. I just like getting two things done at once, which is the meaning of this idiom. Who doesn't like this? It saves you both energy and time!

I'll kill two birds with one stone if I come and pick you up on my way to the supermarket.

To back the wrong horse

horse and man down

You wouldn't like to do this as it would mean that you took the wrong decision and supported someone or something (like an idea) that was eventually unsuccessful.

He chose Mark's project, but was proved that he backed the wrong horse and therefore lost all his money.

To have a bull session

When you have an informal discussion in a group of people, then you can call it a bull session!

It wasn't really an official meeting. We just had a bull session.

A shaggy dog story

Everyone has said something that was a shaggy dog story! Every single person. We were all kids once and used to tell stories or jokes which were not true. This is what a shaggy dog story mean. This phrase can also be used when your story or joke has a rather silly ending.

I knew from the very beginning that everything he said was a shaggy dog story. These things don't just happen like that!

A pig in a poke

pig in a poke

A pig in a poke refers to something that you have bought without knowing whether it's good or not or without seeing it first. It can also refer to something that you have accepted without having thought well enough about it.

I need to go to the shop and try it on. I don't want to buy a pig in a poke!

When the cat's away, the mice will play

cat leaving and mouse dancing

This is a saying rather then an actual idiom. But I have seen that it is one of students' favourite as it is found in many other languages having the same meaning, and therefore it couldn't be missing from the list. The cat of course refers to the person who is in charge and the mice refers to the people who take advantage of this situation and behave a bit "badly". It can perfectly describe a classroom's atmosphere when the teacher is out of the room.

I'm not sure I want to leave the kids alone at home, they will definitely break some rules. You know what they say! When the cat's away the mice will play!

I hope you enjoyed these animal idioms! What other animal idioms do you know? Feel free to share them below!