Intermediate (متوسط)شنیداری

Animal Idioms

Hello everyone, I’m Hamidreza Ahmadi and this podcast is brought to you by Lingophoenix.

In this podcast, we are going to talk about some animal idioms in English. Well, there are quite a few expressions with animals in English that have a day to day use, from insects and birds, to reptiles and mammals.

I remember when I was a kid, my parents sometimes sent me away to find Nokhod Siah. If you’re sent away to find nokhod siah, you’re tasked to do something which is impossible, worse yet, something which may not even exist. In English, If you’re sent on a wild goose chase you’re looking for nokhod sia. There can be several reasons why we send somebody donbale nokhod siah or on a wild goose chase. One reason is because we don’t want them to be around, so that we can discuss or do something that can’t be discussed or done in their presence. “My parents always sent me on a wild goose chase, when they wanted to invite people over for my birthday party.”

I believe this next idiom is very much common in Persian as well. My uncle has demons for children, and his oldest son is the devil himself. He is weird. He likes breaking people’s stuff and causing havoc everywhere. When his parents confront him, he begins crying and apologizing promising that he will never do it again, but they know him too well now, and don’t care too much about his alligator tears. As you can see, alligator tears are insincere and hypocritical. According to Wikipedia, the origins of this idiom is based on an ancient belief that alligators cry when they eat their prey.

Elephants have a good memory and It is said that they live up to 40 or 50 years old because of that. The saying ‘an elephant never forgets’ comes from this very belief. When we want to describe someone as having a very good memory, we can use the expression ‘to have a memory like an elephant’ to talk about them. Here’s an example. “I’m very happy that my father shows no symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, he has a memory like an elephant; he remembers things that happen to him in so much detail you’d sometimes wish he’d forget a few things.”

Elephants are among the biggest animals in the world, and you can see them kilometers away. If they’re inside your house, in your room probably, it’s rather impossible that you don’t see them. If you don’t see them, and you’re not visually impaired, there can be only one reason and one reason only YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THEM. The reason I’m saying this is because of the idiom ‘the elephant in the room’. You see, this expression is used when we want to refer to a very important and enormous topic that those who are present are aware of but consciously avoid talking about because it makes them feel uncomfortable. For example, “Everyone knew why Jamal was not himself yesterday. He had gotten divorced a few weeks ago and was way too sad, but everybody pretended that they didn’t see the elephant in the room and talked about everything with him but his divorce.”

Insects are known for their small size. If something is small, there is less chance that they can be seen. The next

expression takes advantage of this logical conclusion . If you don’t want to be in the limelight and remain unseen or unnoticed in a gathering or a party while passively observing what’s happening, you are a fly on the wall. For example, when people discuss politics, I prefer to be a fly on the wall and listen to what everybody has to say. But to get involved in the discussion, well, no, not gonna happen, not in a taxi cab at least.

Imagine driving through the woods. Your headlights are on and a deer darts out from the dark in front of your car. Frozen, confused and awe-stricken, they stand still scared out of their mind not knowing what to do. Now if you say you are like a deer (caught) in the headlights, you mean that you have the exact same feeling as the deer does. “I once had a job interview, and the interviewer asked so many personal questions, none having anything to do with my area of expertise. Each time he asked me one of those questions, I was like a deer caught in the headlights. I just kept looking at the guy and didn’t speak a word. He was shocked and tried to make things cool by asking me “Hey, cat got your tongue?”

Thank you very much. I hope you’ll find the content of this podcast useful. Talk to you soon.

Download the Animal Idioms List & PDF Worksheets
PDF Animal Idioms PDF

The idiom worksheets and games are also free to download.

Download and print the PDFs.
Use the materials for interactive learning activities in class.
Students can also complete the worksheets to review or for self-study.

Animal Idiom Worksheets for ESL Students
PDF Worksheet A: Defining Idioms & Writing Sentences with Idioms

PDF Worksheet B: Reading Idioms in Context & Describing Meanings

Fun Animal Idiom Games for the Classroom
PDF Animal Idioms Crossword

PDF Animal Idioms BINGO

PDF Animal Idioms Checklist (for BINGO)

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