There are many words or phrases in English language that we are using on a daily basis. Thus, we could not deny the fact that English is a colorful language, and also an important one.

One word may vary from one another, depending on how we use it.  Despite of these ambiguities, we can say that this language has been an essential language to all of us and it also became our way of life.

Here are some common phrases in English language and their meanings that you may never know when it comes in handy.

A diamond in the rough

Always look for a diamond in the rough
Always look for a diamond in the rough.

Remember what the Cave of Wonders, from Aladdin, was looking for? Yes, a diamond in the rough. This phrase actually refers to someone that is good hearted however lacks with social graces and respect for the law.

Aladdin is a famous theft but he is regarded as a diamond in the rough.

 Back to square one

This is seldom used by people after having been fired or have ended a relationship. By definition, back to square one is to start again or to start from the beginning.

I spilled my coffee on my research paper so I have to go back to square one.

Caught red-handed

When someone or anyone caught you doing something wrong; you are caught red-handed.

The robber was caught red-handed by one of the family members.

Dark Horse

Dark horse is a song by Katy Perry, where she was riding on a steel horse.  But, the phrase “dark horse” is not a steel or black horse. It is someone who is said to be the least expected winner but emerges to prominence in a competition.

Neymar Jr. was considered a dark horse when he was a little boy.

Ear Candy

Ear candy is not a candy brand.  It is a term used to describe a music or a song that has an immediate effect but intellectually challenging.

This song was an ear candy last month.

Fish Out of Water

Literally, fish out of water sounds impossible. However, figuratively, it is a person who is uncomfortable or unfamiliar with a specific situation.

My geek friend will surely be a fish out of water in that cool kids’ party.

Game of two halves

When you thought you are lucky then it became a game of two halves; you might be in danger, my friend. It is because “game of two halves” is a circumstance/s that has been suddenly changed.

Abort mission, the mission became a game of two halves.


Oh no! Any half-hearted is up to no good.
Oh no! Any half-hearted is up to no good.

A half heart has never been a good idea as well as anything that is half-hearted. Half-hearted is simply defined as not fully committed or not sincere.

Her enemy gave her a half-hearted apology.

If the shoe fits

The phrase “if the shoe fits” was inspired from the Cinderella Story, when the shoes fit her perfectly, the prince married her. Yes, that story. By it is something very natural, someone to accept the truthfulness of a description about him or her.

 If the shoe fits, it can be valid evidence.

Jack of all trades, master of none

This is not the Jack from the famous Grimm’s story or the famous Jack from Pirates of Caribbean. This is a kind person who can dabble in many skills rather than gaining expertise by focusing in one.

Last month, my brother took up a culinary course. Now, he is taking up carpentry, he is such a Jack of all trades, master of none.

Know the ropes

You should know the ropes
You should know the ropes

This rope cannot be used in a game of tug of war because it is a kind of rope that defined [know the ropes] as something to know the ways or methods of performing a certain task.

The newly hired secretary should know the ropes of her job.

La dolce vita

La dolce vita sounds mouth watery, right? No wonder because this phrase is from the country of baguette and pasta, the Italia or Italy. La dolce vita translates to “the sweet life”

The rich businessman is living a “la dolce vita” kind of life.

Mad as a hatter

This phrase was originated from one of the characters in the story of Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter. Mad as a hatter connotes to be completely crazy or insane.

Are you mad as a hatter to do that kind of stuff?

 Name is mud

This phrase cannot be cleanse with soap and bleach because “name is mud” is someone who is unpopular or having a tarnished reputation.

Because of that scandalous act, the young actress name’s is mud.

O ye of little faith

This is the rebuke given by Jesus Christ at the Disciples, when they seemed to doubt His divinity. This phrase is coined to describe a person that is full of doubts.

O ye of little faith trust me this event will be a successful one.

Paddle your own canoe

Canoeing is a fun hobby for you and your family. However, the phrase “paddle your own canoe” has nothing to do with canoeing, it means that one should be independent or self sufficient.

In selecting a course for college, you should paddle your own canoe to avoid regrets.

Quality Time 

Exercise some quality time
Exercise quality time

How will you maintain a good relationship? Here’s one tip for you folks, for a lasting and strong relationship, the couple should have plenty of quality time. Yes, lots of it.  Quality time implies spending time together, in order to strengthen a relationship.

My busy mother and father promised me to spend some quality time this weekend.

Red-letter day

We all love everything in red; red roses, red wine, and red -letter day. Red-letter day is a special, memorable occasion

20th of March is our red letter day, meaning a memorable day, since it is  our wedding anniversary.

Say Cheese

Parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella, just say cheeseeee! Hence, the phrase “say cheese” is an instruction of a photographer to make a person smile before clicking the camera. phrases in English

I want you all to smile so “say cheese.

Take a Back Seat

Nobody wanted a back seat especially while watching your most anticipated concert because take a back seat is, literally and figuratively a less prominent role.

The shy girl is always taking a back seat.

Ups- a- Daisy

Some of us thought it is “opsie daisy” but it is really “ups-a daisy”. Ups-a daisy is not a flower but an expression made to encourage a child to get up after a fall.

Ups- a daisy! you poor child, stand up.


Vis-a-vis is a French word for a fancy way of saying “face to face”.

The boy sat vis-à-vis to his girlfriend.

Walk the Walk

Walking is a good form of exercise. Nonetheless, the “walk the walk” is not an exercise; it is to back up one’s words with actions.

All politicians should walk the walk.

You can’t have your cake and eat it

Can't have your cake and eat it
Can’t have your cake and eat it.

A little piece of cake brings joy to anybody who will eat it. However, the phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it” means one can’t have everything they want at the same time, they have to choose.

What do you want to do? Let me know because you can’t have your cake and eat it. phrases in English

Zip your Mouth or Lip

Zipper plays a vital role in our lives. It zips our clothes, bags, and shoes. Nonetheless, zip your mouth does not involved zippers, it is an idiom that means keep quiet.

When you are in a library, you have to zip your mouth.

Learning these phrases in English is not as easy as 1-2-3 or A-B-C but it will make your life easy.

Here in, we are willing to take your learning to a more engaging and more fun experience. So, we are updating our blog time to time for you to learn more words or phrases in English language.

To get more inspiration in learning different words or phrases in English langauge, try checking out our blog post Celebrities who learned english as a second language!