The role of an idiom is to create a vivid visual through commonplace and expressive language.
When it comes to food, it unveils various perspectives, from enjoyment to necessity, difficulty, or even abundance, in a compact and picturesque manner.
An idiom is a frequently used figurative phrase that has a meaning separate from the literal interpretation of its constituent words. For instance, saying “as cool as a cucumber” to describe being calm and composed under pressure.
Idioms for Food
1. As cool as a cucumber
Meaning: This idiom paints a picture of being calm and composed, much like a well-kept cucumber staying cool and fresh.
When to use: Use this idiom when expressing a state of cool-headedness, especially during challenging situations.
In a sentence: “Despite the rising tension in the room, he stayed as cool as a cucumber, acknowledging each problem with a composed demeanor.”
2. Apple of my eye
Meaning: This idiom suggests valuing someone or something highly and caring deeply about them, just as we cherish a fresh and juicy apple.
When to use: Employ this idiom when expressing deep affection or cherishment towards someone or something.
In a sentence: “My daughter is the apple of my eye; her happiness is my utmost priority.”
3. Spill the beans
Meaning: Similar to “letting the cat out of the bag,” this idiom captures the act of revealing a secret, much like accidentally knocking over a bag of beans and spilling its contents.
When to use: Use this idiom when describing the disclosure of confidential information or secrets.
In a sentence: “I didn’t mean to, but I spilled the beans about their surprise party to Hank.”
Read Also: Similes for Food
4. Bite off more than you can chew
Meaning: This idiom equates the act of accepting or starting a task that is too large or difficult to one literally attempting to consume more food than they can handle.
When to use: Use this idiom while discussing situations where one has taken on a task beyond their capacity.
In a sentence: “He bit off more than he could chew when he promised to complete the project in one day.”
5. The cherry on the cake
Meaning: This idiom means something nice that happens on top of an already good situation or experience, making it even better just like a cherry topping makes a cake more appealing.
When to use: Apply this idiom when discussing an additional good event or aspect that improves an already positive circumstance.
In a sentence: “Winning the game was brilliant, but having my family there to witness it was the cherry on the cake.”
6. Bring home the bacon
Meaning: This idiom refers to earning money to support your family, much like bringing home bacon, a staple food item.
When to use: Use this idiom when talking about someone who is the primary earner for their family.
In a sentence: “Ever since she got promoted, she’s been bringing home the bacon and making sure her family’s needs are met.”
Read Also: Metaphors for Food
7. As easy as pie
Meaning: This idiom equates the simplicity of a task to making or eating a pie, suggesting that it’s very easy.
When to use: Use this idiom to describe tasks or activities that are simple to execute or understand.
In a sentence: “She found the test as easy as pie and completed it within half the time.”
8. Bite the bullet
Meaning: This idiom refers to facing a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and fortitude, much like biting into a challenging food.
When to use: Employ this idiom when talking about confronting hard situations with bravery.
In a sentence: “Knowing the procedure would be painful, he decided to bite the bullet and move forward with it.”
9. The meat and potatoes
Meaning: This idiom represents the most important or fundamental aspects of something, just as meat and potatoes are the staple parts of a meal.
When to use: Use this idiom when discussing the essential elements or aspects of a project, event, or topic.
In a sentence: “Before we get lost in details, let’s first discuss the meat and potatoes of this project.”
10. Sour grapes
Meaning: This idiom refers to individuals pretending to disdain something they cannot have, much like how one might claim they don’t want “sour” grapes.
When to use: Use this idiom to describe someone’s false pretense of calm indifference towards something they can’t possess.
In a sentence: “Their criticism is just sour grapes because they didn’t get the job.”
11. Have your cake and eat it too
Meaning: This idiom refers to wanting more than one can handle or desiring to have it both ways, like preserving a cake but also wishing to consume it.
When to use: Use this idiom when someone wants multiple incompatible things at once.
In a sentence: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too – if you want more local services, you’ll have to be willing to pay the taxes for them.”
12. Go bananas
Meaning: This idiom suggests behaving in a mildly insane or wildly excited manner, just as monkeys get excited over bananas.
When to use: Employ this idiom when illustrating wild excitement or nonsensical behavior.
In a sentence: “The crowd went bananas when the band came on stage.”
13. A piece of cake
Meaning: This idiom depicts a task or situation that is easy to accomplish, much like eating a piece of cake.
When to use: Use this idiom to discuss tasks that are straightforward and simple to perform.
In a sentence: “For a seasoned mountain climber, this hike is a piece of cake.”
14. Butter someone up
Meaning: This idiom refers to flattering or praising someone excessively, much like spreading butter generously over a slice of bread.
When to use: Use this idiom when someone is trying to win favor through excessive praise or flattery.
In a sentence: “He’s always buttering up the boss to get the best assignments.”
15. Cream of the crop
Meaning: This idiom denotes the best of a particular group or category, like the rich cream that rises to the top of a pot of milk.
When to use: Use this idiom when referring to the highest quality or top choice among a selection.
In a sentence: “These students are the cream of the crop. They consistently receive the highest scores.”
16. Egg on your face
Meaning: This idiom signifies embarrassment due to a failed attempt or mishap, akin to having egg splattered on one’s face.
When to use: Use this idiom when describing instances of embarrassment arising from blunders or unsuccessful endeavors.
In a sentence: “He left the meeting with egg on his face after his proposal was rejected.”
17. A bun in the oven
Meaning: This idiom usually refers to someone who is pregnant, just as a bun being baked in an oven takes time to be ready.
When to use: Use this idiom to casually refer to a woman being pregnant.
In a sentence: “Did you hear the news? Susan has a bun in the oven.”
18. Bread and butter
Meaning: The idiom refers to a person’s main source of income or livelihood, just as bread and butter are basic sustenance.
When to use: Use this idiom when discussing one’s principal earnings or day-to-day work.
In a sentence: “As a teacher, grading papers is his bread and butter.”
19. Smart cookie
Meaning: This idiom depicts a person who is clever or quick-thinking, likening their intelligence to a desired or prized cookie.
When to use: Use this idiom to compliment someone on their wit, intelligence, or cleverness.
In a sentence: “She’s a smart cookie, able to solve complex mathematical problems in seconds.”
20. Hard nut to crack
Meaning: This idiom refers to a problem that’s difficult to solve or a person who’s hard to understand, much like the difficulty of cracking a hard nut.
When to use: Use this idiom to describe challenging problems or situations, or to denote people who are difficult to understand or deal with.
In a sentence: “This case is a hard nut to crack; we have very little evidence to go on.”
21. Cook up a storm
Meaning: This idiom refers to spending a lot of time and effort preparing and cooking a lot of food, often for a special occasion or large gathering.
When to use: Use this idiom when someone is making a lot of food, especially in a hectic but organized manner.
In a sentence: “She always cooks up a storm for family gatherings; no one leaves her house hungry.”
22. Full of beans
Meaning: This idiom signifies being lively, energetic, and in high spirits, as if one had ingested invigorating beans.
When to use: Use this idiom when describing people, especially children, who are brimming with energy and enthusiasm.
In a sentence: “The kids were full of beans after the birthday party and took forever to calm down for bed.”
23. Gravy train
Meaning: This idiom symbolizes an easy way of making a lot of money over a long period of time, much like enjoying a rich and endless supply of gravy.
When to use: Use this idiom when referring to a lucrative project or business that generates a substantial and constant income with little effort.
In a sentence: “Creating and selling his innovative app put him on the gravy train.”
24. Out of the frying pan into the fire
Meaning: This idiom compares moving from a bad or difficult situation to one that is worse, to jumping out of a frying pan and into a fire.
When to use: Use this idiom when describing a scenario where escaping from one problem results in encountering a bigger one.
In a sentence: “She left her boring job only to end up in one that was even more stressful. Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire.”
25. Hot potato
Meaning: This idiom refers to a controversial issue or situation that is awkward or unpleasant to deal with, much as a literal hot potato is difficult to handle.
When to use: Use this idiom to describe an issue or topic people avoid because it is problematic or controversial.
In a sentence: “The politicians avoided discussing the tax increase because they knew it was a hot potato.”