Idioms are a funny, tricky business. Literally translated, they’re a bunch of gibberish, but to native speakers, there’s often no better way to express a particular feeling or sum up a situation. English speakers use idioms constantly, which can be amusing or frustrating for those still learning the language. To help you improve your fluency, or even just give you a chuckle, here are 20 of the wackiest, most commonly used expressions in the US and their meanings.

1. Cool as a cucumber

Meaning: calm and composed, especially in stressful situations

Example: She was as cool as a cucumber during her job interview.

2. Hold your horses

Meaning: wait a minute; be patient

Example: He still has to shower before we can leave — hold your horses.

3. Kick the bucket

Meaning: to die

Example: Many people want to travel the world before they kick the bucket.

4. Blue in the face

Meaning: exhausted from great, generally futile, effort

Example: You can beg until you’re blue in the face, but you’re not having ice cream for dinner.

5. Head in the clouds

Meaning: oblivious or having unrealistic ideas

Example: He has his head in the clouds if he thinks he can pass his test without studying.

6. Dead as a doornail

Meaning: to be completely devoid of life

Example: I forgot to water my flowers, and now they’re as dead as a doornail.

7. Piece of cake

Meaning: very easy to do or accomplish

Example: She was nervous about her driving test, but it ended up being a piece of cake.

8. Out of the blue

Meaning: randomly or unexpectedly

Example: My grandmother came to visit out of the blue.

9. Raining cats and dogs

Meaning: raining extremely heavily

Example: We can’t go to the park today because it’s raining cats and dogs.

10. Cat got your tongue

Meaning: unable to speak or think of something to say.

Example: You’re being very quiet. Cat got your tongue?

11. It’s all Greek to me

Meaning: something incomprehensible or hard to understand.

Example: I’ve tried learning the rules to basketball, but it’s all Greek to me.

12. Pardon my French

Meaning: please excuse my profanity

Example: Pardon my French, but I’ve had a hell of a day.

13. Under the weather

Meaning: feeling slightly unwell

Example: Billy stayed home from school today because he was under the weather.

14. Chew the fat

Meaning: have a long, leisurely conversation; make small talk; gossip casually

Example: After running into a childhood friend, we chewed the fat over a cup of coffee.

15. Neck of the woods

Meaning: a specific neighborhood or area

Example: That man used to be my neighbor. He’s from my neck of the woods.

16. Thick as thieves

Meaning: very close friends

Example: My teammates and I are as thick as thieves.

17. Throw a wrench in the works

Meaning: create an obstacle that makes something more difficult

Example: She threw a wrench in the works by bringing a guest to my wedding without asking.

18. Pot calling the kettle black

Meaning: be hypocritical; criticize someone for something you’re guilty of

Example: You think I’m messy? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

19. When pigs fly

Meaning: something that is unlikely to happen, often said mockingly

Example: Doctors will recommend all-dessert diets when pigs fly.

20. Put a sock in it

Meaning: telling someone to stop talking or be quiet

Example: The whole movie theater can hear you whispering so put a sock in it.

This article was updated on July 11, 2019.