Idioms that incorporate parts of the body ingeniously create vivid imagery, transforming abstract ideas into more tangible and relatable concepts. These expressions play a crucial role in enriching our everyday communication, making it more colorful and compelling. For those who are either learning or teaching English, acquiring a grasp of these body idioms can be immensely helpful.
In this post, we have compiled a list of 30 common body idioms. Each idiom is accompanied by its meaning, and to help you understand its usage in real-life scenarios, we also provide example sentences. This hands-on approach will make it easier for you to understand and incorporate these idioms into your own language usage.
For those who would like to have a portable version of this resource, we’ve made it easy for you! A downloadable PDF version of these examples can be found at the end of this page.
Body Part Idioms
Cost an arm and a leg
Meaning: Something is very expensive.
Example Sentence: “The designer dress she wanted cost an arm and a leg, so she decided to rent it instead.“
Break a leg
Meaning: Wishing someone good luck.
Example Sentence: “Before his big audition, his sister called and told him to break a leg.“
Give a hand
Meaning: To help someone.
Example Sentence: “Could you give me a hand carrying these bags upstairs?“
Cry your eyes out
Meaning: To cry excessively.
Example Sentence: “She cried her eyes out when she found out her pet had passed away.“
Meaning: To feel nervous before a big event.
Example Sentence: “She got cold feet just before her wedding, but her best friend reassured her.“
Bite your tongue
Meaning: To avoid speaking.
Example Sentence: “I had to bite my tongue to avoid saying something rude.“
Face the music
Meaning: To confront the consequences of one’s actions.
Example Sentence: “After cheating on the test, he had to face the music when he was caught.“
Pull someone’s leg
Meaning: To tease or joke with someone.
Example Sentence: “I’m just pulling your leg, I didn’t really forget your birthday.“
Get it off your chest
Meaning: To express your feelings to feel better.
Example Sentence: “I feel so much better now that I’ve gotten that off my chest.“
Play it by ear
Meaning: To improvise or play without a plan.
Example Sentence: “We don’t have a plan for our road trip, we’re just going to play it by ear.“
Get under one’s skin
Meaning: To annoy or bother someone.
Example Sentence: “Her constant criticism really gets under my skin.“
Lend an ear
Meaning: To listen to someone.
Example Sentence: “If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here to lend an ear.“
Have a heart
Meaning: To show compassion.
Example Sentence: “Please have a heart and donate to those in need.“
Wear your heart on your sleeve
Meaning: To openly show your feelings or emotions.
Example Sentence: “He wears his heart on his sleeve, so it’s easy to tell when he’s upset.“
Turn a blind eye
Meaning: To ignore something intentionally.
Example Sentence: “You can’t just turn a blind eye to the environmental issues our planet is facing.“
Put your foot in your mouth
Meaning: To say something embarrassing or inappropriate.
Example Sentence: “I really put my foot in my mouth when I asked about her husband, not knowing they had recently divorced.“
Have a gut feeling
Meaning: To have a strong intuition about something.
Example Sentence: “I have a gut feeling that this is the right decision for me.“
Head over heels
Meaning: To be extremely in love with someone.
Example Sentence: “She fell head over heels for him the moment they met.“
Keep your chin up
Meaning: To remain cheerful in a difficult situation.
Example Sentence: “Even though she was going through a tough time, she kept her chin up and stayed positive.“
Stick your neck out
Meaning: To take a risk for someone else.
Example Sentence: “He stuck his neck out for his friend, even though he knew it might cause him problems.“
See eye to eye
Meaning: To agree on something.
Example Sentence: “Although they are from different political parties, they see eye to eye on this issue.“
Back to the drawing board
Meaning: To start a task all over again.
Example Sentence: “Our plan didn’t work out as we expected, so it’s back to the drawing board.“
Off the top of your head
Meaning: To say something without thinking about it in advance.
Example Sentence: “Can you give me the answer off the top of your head, or do you need time to think about it?”
Have a chip on your shoulder
Meaning: To seem angry all the time because you feel that you have been treated unfairly or feel you are not as good as other people.
Example Sentence: “Ever since he was overlooked for the promotion, he’s had a chip on his shoulder.“
On the tip of your tongue
Meaning: When you know something but can’t quite remember it.
Example Sentence: “His name is on the tip of my tongue, but I just can’t remember it.“
Meaning: Hard physical work, especially cleaning.
Example Sentence: “This old furniture will look like new with a little elbow grease.“
Pain in the neck
Meaning: Someone or something that is very annoying.
Example Sentence: “My neighbor’s loud music is a real pain in the neck.”
Shoulder the burden
Meaning: To take on a responsibility.
Example Sentence: “He had to shoulder the burden of his father’s failed business.“
Nose out of joint
Meaning: To feel upset or annoyed because you believe you have been treated unfairly.
Example Sentence: “He got his nose out of joint when he wasn’t invited to the meeting.“
Twist someone’s arm
Meaning: To persuade someone to do something.
Example Sentence: “I didn’t want to go to the party, but she twisted my arm.”