How Well Do You Know These Common English Clichés?

Becky Stigall

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Clichés are overused sayings or phrases. Let's use some in this fun quiz, to see how many you know and use yourself. Can you guess what each one of them means?

A ____ by any other name would smell as sweet.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is an expression that came from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." Even if you call a rose a... banana... it would still smell like a rose.

Waiting for the other ____ to drop.

When something isn't finished, or a series of events must continue, you might be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The _____ doesn’t fall far from the tree.

In this expression, the acorn is the child and the tree is the parent. Some people say that the apple or the nut doesn't fall far from the tree.

Actions speak louder than _____.

"Actions speak louder than words" is an expression that means you should walk the walk and talk the talk... or some other cliché.

Back against the ______.

If your back is against the wall, you have nowhere to go.

Raining cats and _______.

"Raining cats and dogs" means it's raining really hard. If the animals get even bigger, run!

Bite your ______.

"Bite your tongue" is an expression used to indicate that you should keep something to yourself.

We’ll cross that ______ when we come to it.

This expression means that you'll deal with something when you have to.

One foot on a banana peel, the other in the _____.

"One foot on a banana peel, the other in the grave" is used to indicate that someone is about to die.

Call a spade a _____.

When you call a spade a spade, you speak directly.

A picture is worth a thousand _____.

This expression means that looking at one picture is easier than a description that involves many words.

You can’t judge a ____ by its cover.

"You can’t judge a book by its cover" is an expression used to indicate that what's inside might be not be evident on the outside.

Champagne taste and a ____ budget.

The expression "champagne taste and a beer budget" is used to describe someone who has expensive taste but no money.

Caught with your hand in the ______ jar.

If you've been caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you've probably been caught stealing something more than cookies.

Fight like ____ and dogs.

Cats and dogs are said to be enemies, so if you fight like them, you fight viciously.

Fly by the seat of your _______.

Flying by the seat of your pants would indicate that you don't do much planning.

A fool and his _____ are soon parted.

We're selling the Brooklyn Bridge. Wanna buy it?

Get back up on the _____.

Some people might also say, "get back in the saddle." Either way, it means to try again after you've been thrown.

Give them an inch, and they’ll take a _______.

Some people are just greedy. Give someone a little of something, and they will want more.

Good ______ make good neighbors.

This expression means it's good to know your place and protect what's yours. Set some boundaries and such.

Good things come to those who ____.

"Good things come to those who wait" is an expression used to indicate that patience is a virtue.

Made of _____.

To be made of money is to be extremely rich. Must be nice.

Make a ________ out of a mole hill.

To make a mountain out of a mole hill is to make a big deal out of nothing.

To make a long _____ short.

To make a long story short is to leave out all of the unnecessary details and get to the point.

Monday morning ___________.

Hindsight is always better than foresight. To be a Monday morning quarterback is to critique a situation after the fact.

The more things change, the more they stay ________.

This expression is used to indicate that although new things come along, some things never change.

Necessity is the ______ of invention.

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a phrase used to indicate that new ideas are the result of some sort of need.

Nervous as a _______ on a hot tin roof.

"Nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof" is an expression used to describe someone who is so nervous they are literally or figuratively jumping. Tennessee Williams wrote a play about that!

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do _______.

"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today" means that procrastination might make you lose out.

Nothing ventured, nothing ______.

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained" means that if you don't try, you can't win.

Paint yourself into a ______.

To paint yourself into a corner is to leave yourself with no options.

Take the ____ of least resistance.

To take the path of least resistance is to do something the easy way.

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t _____ stones.

This expression means that you should not point out the flaws of others if you have your own flaws. And who doesn't?

Putting the ______ before the horse.

To put the cart before the horse is to do something in the wrong order.

Wake up on the wrong side of the _______.

You are probably cranky if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes