Can You Complete These Common Phrases?

About this Quiz

Common phrases and popular sayings are products of culture and experience. You may hear them all the time and not think twice when you use them, but they are often very specific to the culture you are in, and may sound like total nonsense to someone who doesn't know the language well. Even if you do know the language well, some phrases still don't make much literal sense! In those cases, you will need to dig a little deeper to understand what the saying means, and for that you've come to the right place! After you take this quiz, you might learn a little something that you can pass on next time you hear someone using these phrases.

Knowing these common phrases and popular sayings is a sign that you are well embedded in your cultural surroundings. So go ahead, test how hip you are to this lingo!

Start Quiz!
Resume Quiz

1. Beauty is in the ____ of the beholder.

Shutterstock
  1. Brain
  2. Eye
  3. Mind
  4. Aura
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" means the beauty of an object is subjective, and is determined by the judgment of the person viewing that object with their eyes.
scroll to continue

2. Don't cry over ____ milk!

Shutterstock
  1. Spilled
  2. Spoiled
  3. Splattered
  4. Splashed
"Don't cry over spilled milk" means there is no use worrying about something that cannot be fixed, like spilled milk. Similar phrases have been noted dating back to 1659, so it seems humans have been spilling milk now for centuries, and trying not to cry about it.
scroll to continue

3. Sorry to burst your ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Balloon
  2. Bubble
  3. Pimple
  4. Dreams
"Sorry to burst your bubble" refers to telling the harsh truth to someone living in a bubble that shields them from information, but is easy to break. The exact origin of this phrase is unknown, but the bursting of an actual bubble may evoke the same disappointment as being told a harsh truth.
scroll to continue

4. Back to ____ one.

Shutterstock
  1. Circle
  2. Position
  3. Square
  4. Step
"Back to square one" means going back to the start, often after going down the wrong path. This phrase may refer to the children's game of hopscotch or Snakes and Ladders, both of which feature square shapes, where one wrong move means you have to go back to the start.
scroll to continue

5. A fool and his ____ are soon parted.

Shutterstock
  1. Money
  2. Wallet
  3. Pockets
  4. Coins
"A fool and his money are soon parted" means someone who acts foolishly in general, will probably act foolishly with their money, and therefore lose it or waste it, leaving them empty-handed.
scroll to continue

6. So easy it's a piece of ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Cake
  2. Tart
  3. Dessert
  4. Pastry
"Piece of cake" means something is very easy. Both cake and pie have a history in American English of being metaphors for being easy or simple, like saying something is "Easy as pie!"
scroll to continue

7. ____ killed the cat.

Shutterstock
  1. Stupidity
  2. Cleverness
  3. Curiosity
  4. Mice
"Curiosity killed the cat" is often used as a warning against someone whose curiosity is leading them to dangerous places. For example, a cat curious about what is at the end of a branch.
scroll to continue

8. The ____ doesn't fall far from the tree.

Shutterstock
  1. Branch
  2. Leaf
  3. Apple
  4. Peach
"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" is used to describe children who are similar to their parents. In this metaphor, the parents are the trees that produce the apples that are children.
scroll to continue

9. I'll believe it when pigs ____!

Shutterstock
  1. Sleep
  2. Fly
  3. Shit
  4. Paint
"When pigs fly" is used to describe a situation that will never happen, so is added as a condition to something that the person saying it never wants to do.
scroll to continue

10. We can have the best of both ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Cosmic orbs
  2. Spheres
  3. Planets
  4. Worlds
"Best of both worlds" means you can enjoy the benefits of two different situations.
scroll to continue

11. Good luck and break a ____!

Shutterstock
  1. Curse
  2. Branch
  3. Leg
  4. Bow
"Break a leg" is a phrase used to wish good luck to someone, most commonly before a performance.
scroll to continue

12. Who let the cat out of the ____?

Shutterstock
  1. Backpack
  2. Luggage
  3. Bag
  4. Blue
"Letting the cat out of the bag" means revealing a secret.
scroll to continue

13. You can't judge a book by its ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Spine
  2. Story
  3. Cover
  4. Pages
"You can't judge a book by its cover" means things are not always as they seem on the surface, and may surprise you once you dig deeper.
scroll to continue

14. It only happens once in a ____ moon.

Shutterstock
  1. Misty
  2. Dark
  3. Blue
  4. Full
"Once in a blue moon" refers to something that happens only very rarely.
scroll to continue

15. All is ____ in love and war.

Shutterstock
  1. Fair
  2. Tragic
  3. Fine
  4. Dramatic
"All is fair in love and war" means that there are no rules in life, even in situations as opposite as love and war.
scroll to continue

16. Well that's just the bee's ____!

Shutterstock
  1. Hive
  2. Buzzers
  3. Knees
  4. Flowers
"Bee's knees" is used to describe something of the best quality.
scroll to continue

17. I'm sorry, you're going to have to ____ the bullet.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
  1. Dodge
  2. Bite
  3. Take
  4. Break
"Bite the bullet" means forcing yourself to do something you do not want to do.
scroll to continue

18. Blood is ____ than water.

Shutterstock
  1. Redder
  2. Thinner
  3. Thicker
  4. Better
"Blood is thicker than water" means that relationships with family, who are related to you by blood, are the strongest.
scroll to continue

19. It's so hot, I'm sweating like a ____!

Shutterstock
  1. Sun
  2. Swine
  3. Pig
  4. Sauna
"Sweating like a pig" means you are sweating a lot, but in reality pigs do not really sweat a lot as a cooling mechanism, but instead roll around in the mud to cool down.
scroll to continue

20. I bet you dollars to ____ it's true!

Pixabay at Pexels
  1. Donuts
  2. Euros
  3. Danishes
  4. Diamonds
"Dollars to doughnuts" is used when you are very sure about something. It may refer to the fact that you are willing to bet actual valuable currency against something perceived to be worthless. But doughnuts are totally delicious and valuable.
scroll to continue

21. She's so mad, she gave me the cold ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Flower
  2. Turn
  3. Back
  4. Shoulder
"Cold shoulder" means ignoring someone on purpose, by turning your shoulder away from them so they cannot talk to your face.
scroll to continue

22. It's so expensive it costs an arm and a ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Thigh
  2. Pocket
  3. Leg
  4. Hand
"Costs and arm and a leg" means something is very expensive, comparing its cost to giving up something as valuable as your limbs.
scroll to continue

23. Let's stop fighting and bury the ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Past
  2. Hammer
  3. Bad blood
  4. Hatchet
"Bury the hatchet" means to reconcile and let old fights die, where a hatchet represents a weapon you might use during a fight.
scroll to continue

24. Don't look a gift horse in the ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Eyes
  2. Mane
  3. Mouth
  4. Face
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" means you should not question the origin or value of a gift.
scroll to continue

25. No, you are barking up the wrong ___!

Shutterstock
  1. Fire hydrant
  2. Tree
  3. Branch
  4. Dog house
"Barking up the wrong tree" means you are following the wrong path or line of thinking, as a dog might bark towards a tree where they think prey has run into the tree, but has in fact escaped.
scroll to continue

26. Everyone is ignoring the elephant ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Making a mess
  2. In the room
  3. Just standing there
  4. Stomping around
"The elephant in the room" refers to something very obvious, but that people tend to ignore because it is too troubling to deal with.
scroll to continue

27. He's so spoiled, he was born with a ____ in his mouth.

Shutterstock
  1. Golden pacifier
  2. Silver spoon
  3. Magic wand
  4. Diamond fork
"Silver spoon in your mouth" is used to describe someone who is spoiled, as they were fed with expensive silver spoons since birth. Most utensils, although they are called "silverware", are actually made of less expensive stainless steel.
scroll to continue

28. It's his one weakness, his ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Zeus' anger
  2. Apollo's arrow
  3. Poseiden's power
  4. Achilles' heel
"Achilles' heel" refers to someone's one weakness, in particular when that person thinks he or she is otherwise infallible. Achilles was a Greek god who was protected from death by being dipped into a river, but his mother held him by the heel while dipping him, so his heel was left unprotected, and this one weakness eventually became his downfall.
scroll to continue

29. Were you talking about me? My ___ were burning.

Shutterstock
  1. Hairs
  2. Phone
  3. Head
  4. Ears
"My ears were burning" is what someone says when they think others have been talking about them behind their back.
scroll to continue

30. They went all out, the whole ____ yards.

Shutterstock
  1. Million
  2. 9
  3. 101
  4. 50
"The whole nine yards" means the entirety of something; everything. It may have originated in the 19th century when a seamstress mistakenly put "the whole nine yards" of fabric into one shirt, instead of making three shirts, of three yards of fabric each.
scroll to continue

31. Go on, spill the ____!

Shutterstock
  1. Beans
  2. Candies
  3. Colors
  4. Jelly Bellies
"Spill the beans" means to tell everything.
scroll to continue

32. Tonight, we're going to paint the town ____!

Shutterstock
  1. Golden
  2. Rainbow
  3. Red
  4. Brown
"Paint the town red" means to have a great time.
scroll to continue

33. Just tell me, don't beat around the ____.

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels
  1. Bend
  2. Shrub
  3. Bush
  4. Hedge
"Beating around the bush" means avoiding talking about a difficult topic.
scroll to continue

34. Keep going! No pain, no ____!

Shutterstock
  1. Rain
  2. Gain
  3. Power
  4. Pleasure
"No pain, no gain" is used as a phrase of encouragement, literally meaning that you cannot achieve any gains unless you go through some pains to get there.
scroll to continue

35. These phrases are so common, they're a ____ a dozen!

Shutterstock
  1. Dime
  2. Handful
  3. Donut
  4. Bunch
"Dime a dozen" means that something is common, meaning out of every 12 (referring to a dozen), there are 10 (referring to the number of cents in a dime).
scroll to continue

36. She got so obsessed, she went down the rabbit ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Pouch
  2. Hole
  3. Tail
  4. Path
"Going down the rabbit hole" means following a topic or path so deeply that you no longer know where you are or where you started. The phrase may originate from the story "Alice in Wonderland" wherein Alice follows a literal rabbit down a literal rabbit hole, ending up in Wonderland.
scroll to continue

37. He's still so mad, he has a ___ on his shoulder.

Shutterstock
  1. Birdie
  2. Tee
  3. Chip
  4. Golf ball
"Chip on his shoulder" means that someone is still angry about something that happened in the past. The origin of the phrase may refer to a wood chip that a man might put on his shoulder, daring someone to fight him by knocking it off his shoulder. This phrase has nothing to do with golf, though the man in the photo may still be mad about missing his "chip" shot!
scroll to continue

38. Let's stop beating the ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Poor horse
  2. Angry horse
  3. Dead horse
  4. War horse
"Beating the dead horse" means discussing a topic so thoroughly that it is no longer useful to discuss it, just as beating something that is dead is pointless.
scroll to continue

39. This is the calm before the ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Rain
  2. Storm
  3. Chaos
  4. Sunset
"Calm before the storm" refers to a peaceful period before a difficult time. The origin comes from actual weather patterns, where often the period right before a storm appears to be calm.
scroll to continue

40. Don't count your chickens before they ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Bacaw
  2. Run
  3. Hatch
  4. Fly
"Don't count your chickens before they hatch" is a warning to not count on something until you are sure it is going to happen; for example, counting the number of chickens that will hatch from eggs until those chickens have actually hatched!
scroll to continue

41. I'm drawing a ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Note
  2. Sticky
  3. Blank
  4. Post-it
"Drawing a blank" means you cannot remember something, or that when you are trying to dip into your memory for a piece of information, your memory returns a blank space.
scroll to continue

42. Elvis has left the ____!

Shutterstock
  1. Concert
  2. Building
  3. Stage
  4. Guitar
"Elvis has left the building!" is used to tell a crowd of people to go home, because the main act of the show has finished. The origin is the literal phrase that was uttered to get Elvis fans to stop crowding a space by telling them there was no longer a chance to spot Elvis!
scroll to continue

43. Every cloud has a ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Gold rim
  2. Meatball inside
  3. Silver lining
  4. Sunny soul
The "silver lining" refers to the good part of a bad situation. The imagery is of a dark cloud that is outlined with light from the sun shining behind it.
scroll to continue

44. You have to fight fire with ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Water
  2. White walkers
  3. Sand
  4. Fire
"Fighting fire with fire" refers to using the same weapon that is used against you, against your attacker. But in the literal case of fire, it would be smarter to fight fire with water. Or Whitewalkers, if you live in Westeros.
scroll to continue

45. I feel like a fish out of ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Ocean
  2. Tank
  3. Sorts
  4. Water
Being a "fish out of water" means you are outside of your comfort zone, or in the case of an actual fish out of actual water, outside of your survivable environment.
scroll to continue

46. I'm ____ as a clam!

Shutterstock
  1. Happy
  2. Sweaty
  3. Salty
  4. Clammy
Being "happy as a clam" is not hard to decode -- it just means you're happy! But why do we think clams are happy? It makes more sense with the full phrase, "happy as a clam at high tide", meaning the clams are happy when tide is high and they are less likely to be found and eaten!
scroll to continue

47. They are head over ____ in love.

Shutterstock
  1. Feet
  2. Heart
  3. Hands
  4. Heels
Being "head over heels" describes the act of falling in love. An older version of this phrase, "heels over head" described what a person looks like in the actual act of falling over.
scroll to continue

48. He hung me out to ___.

Shutterstock
  1. Fly
  2. Dry
  3. Air
  4. Shine
Getting "hung out to dry" means to be abandoned. The origin of this phrase may refer to hanging clothes outside to dry in the sun, though presumably most people retrieve their clothes and do not abandon them.
scroll to continue

49. I spy with my ____.

Shutterstock
  1. Mind's eye
  2. Little eye
  3. Camera lens
  4. Magnifying glass
"I spy with my little eye" is a phrase used in a children's game to identify an obscure object by describing the object.
scroll to continue

50. That TV show has ____ the shark.

Shutterstock
  1. Hugged
  2. Eaten
  3. Killed
  4. Jumped
"Jumped the shark" is used to describe a TV show that has employed an ridiculous plot twist for the sole purpose of trying to shock the viewer, than trying to meaningfully advanced the plot. In other words, the TV show writers have decided to do something absurd, like jump over a shark.
scroll to continue

51. Speak of the ____ and he shall appear.

Rachata Teyparsit / Shutterstock.com
  1. Kangaroo
  2. Gherkin
  3. Devil
  4. Angel
This means that the person you’re just talking about actually appears at that moment.
scroll to continue

52. They’ve always seen eye to ____.

WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com
  1. Dog
  2. Eye
  3. Toast
  4. Hand
This means two people or parties have always agreed with one another.
scroll to continue

53. To feel under the ____.

sezer66 / Shutterstock.com
  1. Cloud
  2. Barn
  3. Sleep
  4. Weather
This means someone is feeling ill.
scroll to continue

54. To kill two ____ with one stone.

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com
  1. Birds
  2. Giants
  3. Pies
  4. Problems
This means accomplishing two tasks with one effort.
scroll to continue

55. To cut ____.

Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com
  1. Corners
  2. Heads
  3. Lettuce
  4. Cheese
To do a bad job in order to save time or money.
scroll to continue

56. To hit the nail on the ____.

Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com
  1. Side
  2. Head
  3. Moon
  4. Feelings
To describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem.
scroll to continue

57. Like getting ____ from a stone.

Elizaveta Elesina / Shutterstock.com
  1. Information
  2. Blood
  3. Fudge
  4. Secrets
An impossible task no matter how hard you try!
scroll to continue

58. When ____ freezes over.

Just dance / Shutterstock.com
  1. Hell
  2. Aspen
  3. Scotland
  4. The Throne
If you say that something will happen 'when hell freezes over,' you mean that it will probably never happen.
scroll to continue

59. To catch ____ in a bottle.

Just dance / Shutterstock.com
  1. Lighting
  2. Lies
  3. Pizza
  4. Air
To achieve or succeed at doing something that is incredibly difficult or unlikely.
scroll to continue

60. The ____ pajamas.

Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com
  1. Bat's
  2. Shoe's
  3. Cat's
  4. Aunt's
A highly admired or exceptionally excellent person or thing.
scroll to continue

Just a sec, we're calculating your result!