Try Your Best to Pass This Common Phrases Quiz


By: Olivia Cantor

7 Min Quiz

Image: mrPliskin/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Have you noticed that many common phrases we use today are idioms or idiomatic expressions? Count how many you use!

The dictionary defines "idiom" as "a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deductible from those of the individual words." In short, these phrases shouldn't be taken at face value, so to speak. For example, if you say "a no-brainer,' that doesn't mean someone has no brain. It doesn't translate to a "literal meaning." Rather, this is what's called "figurative language" in literature.

You're always using examples of figurative language in daily speech but you may not know it. The most common type is simile, wherein you compare two things. If you say "My boss is as slow as a turtle in approving my leaves," that's simile. You're getting the qualities or characteristics of a turtle's slowness and comparing that to how your boss makes slow decisions.

Another common type is metaphor, wherein you also do comparisons but it's more of the symbolic kind. For example, when you say "I work better with night owls," that doesn't mean you work in a zoo! Rather, you're using the night owl image to symbolize people who are more productive during the night. If you say, "I'm an early bird," then that means you're using the traits of a bird to symbolize your work ethic or productivity mode. 

Other types of figurative language you can discover later on are personification, oxymoron, hyperbole, onomatopoeia and many more. For now,  see how much you know of figurative language examples through the common phrases we use every single day. Have fun!

When you've reached "the end of your rope," which specific place can you also land on?

A person who has already exhausted all remaining amount of patience or level of thinking can be at wits' end if they've hit a wall. This means being in a confused or confounded state that you don't really know the next step to take, hence the "end" of your mental and emotional efforts.


"Patience is a virtue" if you can practice which action?

Aside from "hold your horses" which means to be patient and wait, there are many more idioms in the English language featuring horses. Examples are: straight from the horse's mouth, be on one's high horse, lead a horse to water, look a gift horse in the mouth, and beat a dead horse, to name a few.


If you're trying to impress coworkers with tons of ideas, what are you unpacking?

Like a magician who can pull out anything amusing from their bag of tricks, you're also the same when you don't run out of ideas or innovations. On the one hand, you make work easier for your team since you're oozing with solutions. On the other hand, some might see you as brown-nosing the boss.


Singularity in skill leads one to be which kind of creature?

In this multimedia-driven multitasking world, a person who's a one-trick pony won't survive for long. Not only does a person need to develop several hard skills, but having soft skills is also huge in today's business climate.


Taking shortcuts in life is like doing which action?

Certain people get attracted to "get rich quick" schemes since it's a way of earning money by cutting corners. Instead of putting in the hard work, they opt to take their chances on the easy and quick route to fame and fortune. Unfortunately, they are the kind of people who get swindled easily, too.


It's something that supports the soul whether intangible or not. Unfurl the answer, please!

Thank toddlers for giving us the concept of the "security blanket" or that piece of cloth they cling to for comfort. In adulthood, this security blanket morphs into things that give them reassurance and stability. It can be money or financial things, material things or property, or relationships.


When does a lifesaver arrive to save a cliffhanger?

"Nick of Time" is also the title of a Johnny Depp '90s movie with a ticking bomb plot pattern. This means his character needs to do something drastic to save the life of his kidnapped daughter. If he doesn't execute plans in the nick of time, it's a life or death situation for the both of them.


A "titan of the industry" also belongs to which category?

The top dog or head honcho in a company is usually a titan of their particular industry, too. If they're influential and visionaries to boot, then they're also part of the movers and shakers of society, not just their industry.


If you walk away for good, what are you doing?

Certain professional life coaches advise us to not burn bridges when we're transferring from one job to another. This advice is helpful, especially if you're moving within a small industry where people might know each other. That's why one should never bad-mouth former coworkers to new ones.


Unpredictable predicaments can make a person do what?

Sudden bouts of anger cause a person to hit the roof. The intensity and the suddenness of this emotional surge makes this figurative "roof-hitting" possible. This is an example of hyperbole or exaggerated statements made for added emphasis; don't take it literally!


Getting the "luck of the draw" allows a person to have which hopeful option?

Success doesn't happen overnight for most people, so it's important to seize opportunities as they come. Grabbing these brass rings leads to getting one foot in the door. This means you're slowly inching your way inside the industry or company you're aiming to enter.


When you want to go really, really fast from point A to point B, what are you doing?

Make a beeline for something when you're in a rush! This common phrase takes a page out of the worker bee manual, since these creatures are fast-moving workers in the animal kingdom. But humans have their own respective reasons for rushing, though; it's not necessarily work-related!


Indecision is in commission when which action is in motion?

In a country using a jury in their judicial system, this collective body makes the decision that leads to sentencing or acquittal. So if "the jury is still out," no decision will literally happen in court. Countries that don't have a jury system might not get this idiomatic phrase, though.


When you're a "stranger in a strange land," as the novel said, how do you feel, too?

If you feel like you stick out like a sore thumb in a given place, situation or scenario, then you can feel like a fish out of water. It means you're not in your element and you feel so alienated being there. We've all felt wet behind our ears during our greenhorn days, for sure.


When "haters gonna hate" as they say on the internet, what kind of "work" gets done here?

People who execute the published kind of hatchet job obviously hasn't heard of libel. It's a crime that a maligned person can file against an attacker who wrote and/or published the demeaning piece. People can sue any malicious hatchet job publication using this defense.


When there's no knack in being unique, what quality will leak?

The agricultural origin of "run-of-the-mill" has something to do with how grains are ground. The resulting quality will get scrutinized immediately by the mill worker to determine if they got good grain results or not. If they get ordinary or average yields, they say that's just "run-of-the-mill."


Being a "bundle of nerves" mean you're harboring what?

Nervousness can clearly manifest physically in a person in various forms. Some break out a sweat and get cold, clammy hands, while some feel something at the pit of their stomachs. That's why we also call it having "butterflies in your stomach" when feeling anxious.


A person getting ticked off can soon head toward which direction?

This term comes from Native American lore, and historically had an actual connection to physical paths. Today, to be "on the warpath" means you're on your way to battle with somebody. It could also mean you're furious about something that it can push you to war mode.


If something drives you up the wall, what else is it doing?

When something or someone gets you angry or irritated for a reason (or even for no apparent reason), then it's obviously getting your goat. In millennial speak, you're "getting triggered" if they're getting your goat.


Before "familiarity breeds contempt," what state should you be in first?

Aside from being the name of a popular '90s boy band, "new kid on the block" refers to any new person who finds themselves in a company, group, place or community whose members are tightly knit already. To gain acceptance and respect, newbies need to prove themselves worthy first.


Enforcing Murphy's Law can result in what?

Murphy's Law states that "anything that can go wrong will go wrong," so the disastrous consequence of that is to have a "bad hair day." The two concepts share the same idea of having things out of control, messing up stuff that can get chaotic in our lives.


Humongous portions get hauled out in which fashion?

In the division of things such as duties or goods, one gets the "lion's share" if they receive the biggest chunk of it. Its animal kingdom reference points to the king of the jungle getting its rightful portion. But in human terms, getting the lion's share doesn't necessarily mean you're the boss.


News that's spread by word of mouth can also have which faster effect?

A wildfire can consume prairie lands, grasslands or forests very fast and can burn down everything on its path. So for something to "spread like wildfire" means it catches on so fast that it becomes uncontrollable already. But the parallelism only refers to the spreading, not the burning down part.


When, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread," as they say, what's one possible result?

It's a painful and traumatic experience if you get taken for a ride, especially if the one who "drove" was a close friend or relative. It means getting fooled or swindled by gaining your trust first. The ride part is the betrayal that they'll do next to con you out of something valuable.


When the cat's got your tongue, what's the result on your mind?

"To draw a blank" is an amusing idiomatic phrase that's also philosophical as well as existential. Drawing a blank means producing nothing in particular, so there's no result or evidence. If you ask someone and they draw a blank, that means they didn't give you anything substantial.


Point out the know-it-all wise guy from this list!

Back seat drivers are passengers who dictate directions and driving tips to the driver, appearing like a know-it-all. Meanwhile, an armchair critic is someone who's good at theoretically analyzing and critiquing a situation they don't have practical knowledge of. Both can be a smart aleck, too.


What's the standard stellar time for mere mortals?

"Fifteen minutes of fame" is a phrase commonly attributed to artist Andy Warhol, who mentioned it in his exhibit catalog. He theorized that people will pursue fame and will become famous for a grand total of 15 minutes on average. Media scholars say social media enables this theory right now.


To "go the extra mile" on a project, where are you willing to come?

"Come hell or high water" is a common phrase to use when you want to encourage yourself to push things further. Nothing will drown you to surrender and no devil can prohibit you from achieving your goal.


When two choices aren't actual options, what's the singular warning here?

"Shape up or ship out" originated as a military threat during times of war. It's a North American idiom that warned soldiers to get their act together and behave properly as military men. If they don't, then they'll get sent out to battle at the war zones.


If someone disproves that, "No man is an island," what did they just do?

To "paddle your own canoe" means you're making moves to be independent, self-reliant and self-sufficient. You're also taking charge of your destiny and where you want to go in life since only you can paddle that canoe and no one else.


Comparing apples and oranges is useless because they are what?

When two things are "as different as night and day," then there's an obvious differentiation between two parties or entities. Often, this differentiation points to being opposites, too, just like how nighttime and daytime are opposite times of a given day.


To keep someone posted, what should you avoid doing?

"To be out of touch" can have different meanings depending on how the phrase gets used. Its primary meaning refers to lack of communication with someone, whether for a long time or even briefly. It can also mean not updating yourself with the latest knowledge in specific sectors or domains.


When you're feeling like a "drop in the ocean" at work, what's your job status like?

Two common phrases refer to feeling mechanical in a workplace: "cog in the machine" and "cog in a wheel." Both idioms refer to a worker who has a small role in the company's upkeep so they don't have a big influence or authority to make big decisions.


"To boldly go where no one has gone before," what path is the best for this route?

Each time we use "the road less traveled" in a sentence, Robert Frost might inadvertently turn in his grave! That's because the line is a misquote from his poem entitled "The Road Not Taken" which says "I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference."


When others don't "forget about the price tag," what will you realize?

There was such a thing as a free lunch in the U.S. during the 19th century but only in concept. Saloon owners advertised that people can get free food for lunch if they buy drinks. So "there's no such thing as a free lunch" indeed when hidden costs in drinks actually pay for the freebie.


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