In every language there are phrases that mean something other than what the words at literally saying – an idiom.
Merriam-Webster defines an idiom as: an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own.
Here are 10 interesting idioms that are commonly used in North America.
Let the cat out of the bag
When someone lets the cat out of the bag, it means that they have told someone or a group of people a secret that they should have waited longer to tell.
For example, if you are planning a surprise party for your girlfriend and a friend tells your girlfriend about the surprise party before the party has happened, your friend has let the cat out of the bag about the party.
Break the ice
To break the ice means to initiate or start a social interaction, specifically with people one doesn’t know or doesn’t know well.
For example, if you are in a hostel and with people you don’t know, the person who speaks first, perhaps introducing themselves, breaks the ice.
Read between the lines
To read between the lines means to find an unspoken meaning in what is written on said.
For example, sometimes people don’t say exactly what they mean. Reading between the lines means you are able to infer what they really mean without them actually telling you what they really mean.
Out of the blue
Out of the blue means when something happens suddenly or unexpectedly.
For example, if you haven’t been in touch with a friend for a long time and then one day they call you, out of the blue.
Ring a bell
Ring a bell means to be familiar with someone or something but you can’t quite remember.
For example, you’re talking to a friend and they ask you if you remember Sarah Adams from grade school. The name sounds vaguely familiar but you don’t remember her, you could say, “The name rings a bell.”
You can also use ring a bell in the negative and say, “No, that name doesn’t ring a bell.”