English Idiom - The Idiomatic Fridge
We came across this fantastic cartoon by John Atkinson, from his site Wrong Hands, and thought it would be the perfect topic for a vocabulary lesson. It’s called The Idiomatic Fridge because all of the “foods” in here are actually idioms in English!
Before we get started, take a look! Do you know any of these?
fish out of water
icing on the cake
piece of cake
tall drink of water
milk and honey
full of beans
bowl of cherries
bunch of baloney
Definitions and Example Sentences
top banana 🍌
The idiom top banana is used to describe the best or most popular person in a show, group or organization.
Of all the comedians in the world, Robin Williams was the top banana. Would you agree?
second banana 🍌🍌
Going hand in hand with top banana is second banana which means the second best or most popular person in a show group or organization.
President Obama was top banana, but he would be nowhere without his second banana, Vice President, Joe Biden.
whole enchilada 🌮
The whole enchilada is a funny way of explaining that something is complete and comes all packaged together.
When considering vacation packages, I decided to go for the whole enchilada and get a deal that included the room, transportation to the airport, and unlimited food and alcohol. I didn’t regret it, I had an amazing trip!
small potatoes 🥔
If something is small, insignificant, or cheap, we might say that it’s just small potatoes.
The price we pay for health insurance is small potatoes compared to what we would pay for medicine without it.
bad apples 🍎
If a bad apple is stored in a container with good apples, it will typically cause the other apples to rot faster. Someone who is very negative can make people around them very negative as well, so we call a negative or badly behaved person a bad apple or a rotten apple.
Joey always complained about his homework in class, and then I started noticing my other students didn’t want to do their work either. I think he’s a bad apple!
good egg 🥚
A good egg is pretty much the opposite of a bad apple. If you someone is just all around (like an egg!) a nice, helpful, and responsible person, he or she is considered a good egg.
When I broke my leg, my neighbor mowed my lawn and made me dinner without me even asking! What a good egg!
big cheese 🧀
If someone is very important and successful, we might call them the big cheese, or a big shot.
After Alex got promoted, he thought it was the big cheese around the office, but he quieted down once he realized he still wasn’t such a big shot...
tall drink of water 🚰
This isn’t an expression that we use very often anymore, but it’s still a funny one! If someone is very beautiful, handsome, and overall just very attractive, you could say that they are a tall drink of water. Imagine drinking a tall glass of water on a hot day. This is how some people feel when seeing someone very attractive!
Even after all these years of marriage, when my wife comes into the room I still think she’s a tall drink of water!
milk and honey 🥛 🍯
This term is used to explain a land that has plenty of everything that you could possibly need to survive, and is therefore considered a perfect place to live.
When I moved to Florida, it had everything I could want, beaches, friendly people, and good food! I thought it was the land of milk and honey until I realized that I missed snow!
full of beans 🥫
If you have a ton of energy, are very happy, and can't sit still you’re full of beans.
On this beautiful summer day, we were full of beans and couldn't wait to go play outside!
bowl of cherries 🍒
When something is very nice, and everything is going perfectly in your day, or your life, we might say that it’s like a bowl of cherries.
Today I found $100 on the sidewalk! Life is a bowl of cherries!
However, this expression is actually used more often in a sarcastic or ironic way, meaning exactly the opposite of perfect.
My car broke down, and I was late for work so I lost my job. Life is a bowl of cherries, huh?
bunch of baloney 😡
If someone is telling you lies, or a fake story, we call this a bunch of baloney.
The car salesman promised me a good price on a car, but when I went to actually buy it, it was much more expensive than he originally said. What a bunch of baloney!!
fish out of water 🎣
A fish out of water is very uncomfortable, doesn’t know what to do and usually can’t survive. When someone is in a situation that they are unfamiliar with, or very uncomfortable with, we call them a fish out of water.
When Lexi visited China for the first time, she felt like a fish out of water because she didn't know anyone, couldn't speak Chinese, and had no idea where to find her hotel.
icing on the cake 🎂
This is another idiom that can be used positively or sarcastically. The icing on the cake is the colorful, sugary cream that goes on the top of the cake. It is the last thing done to make the cake look perfect.
We use this positively to talk about the final thing that made a situation just perfect:
The dinner was already amazing, but the waiter gave us a free bottle of wine, which was really the icing on the cake.
We also use it negatively, sarcastically, or ironically when a situation seems like it can’t get any worse, but then it does:
It rained on my wedding day, my mom couldn’t come because her flight was delayed, and the caterer canceled but the icing on the cake was that my husband got food poisoning! It’s ok though, the honeymoon was amazing!
piece of cake 🍰
Something that is very easily accomplished or achieved is known as a piece of cake.
I got the job! I had the right qualifications and had great answers prepared for their questions, so the interview was a piece of cake.