Do You Know What These Phrases Mean?


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About This Quiz

Funny phrases and sayings have a long history in our verbal heritage. In this quiz, we're going to explore some of the most popular sayings, and​ we'll see which ones you know and which you don't!

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

This famous saying means that it's better to have a lesser, but sure, advantage. That way, that at least you have something!

Not for all the tea in China.

When you won't do something for all the tea in China, you're basically saying that you'll do it at no price! There must be a lot of tea in China.

Labor of love.

A labor of love is something that you do for pleasure. It can also be something you do for the benefit of a loved one.

Let the cat out of the bag.

When you let the cat out of the bag, you're sharing information that was previously concealed. This happens when someone comes out of the closet.

As mad as a hatter.

This means someone is completely crazy. it comes from Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," and perhaps from harmful chemicals once used in hatmaking.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

When you let a sleeping dog lie, you're not disturbing a situation. For that matter, you want to let a sleeping baby lie, too.

Barking up the wrong tree.

When you're barking up the wrong tree, you're making a false assumption about something. Imagine a hunting dog barking at a tree when the intended prey has already escaped.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" means that the perception of beauty is subjective. Someone can appear either ugly or beautiful, depending on who is looking.

Bite the bullet.

When you bite the bullet, you're accepting impending hardship or difficulty. You bite the bullet when you go to the dentist.

Booby trap.

A booby trap is a concealed or lethal trap. It can also be a practical joke.

Bury your head in the sand.

When you bury your head in the sand, you're not acknowledging a problem. You're refusing to confront something.

Put the cart before the horse.

When you put the cart before the horse, you're reversing the order of things - in other words, the logical order.


A catch-22 is a kind of paradox. The more you try to escape, the harder it is to escape. It comes from a novel by Joseph Heller.

Chickens come home to roost.

When the chickens come home to roost, it's a kind of karma. Bad deeds and words return to their perpetrator.

Cloud nine.

When you're on cloud nine, you're in a state of blissful happiness. It's a kind of heaven.

What is a hot potato?

A hot potato is a current issue that people are talking about. Politics is always a hot potato.

A picture paints a thousand words.

When a picture paints a thousand words, it means that a visual depiction is more efficiently descriptive than language.

Piece of cake.

When something is a piece of cake, then it's a simple task. Usually it's something incredibly easy.

Al fresco.

When you're dining al fresco, you're dining outside. This comes from the Italian, "in the fresh."

The whole nine yards.

The whole nine yards is all of something. When you buy a cookie, you want the whole nine yards.

A penny for your thoughts.

When you offer someone a penny for their thoughts, you're asking what they're thinking about. Made famous in "Waiting for Guffman."

Beat around the bush.

When you're beating around the bush, you're avoiding a main topic. This means there is an issue you're not speaking directly about.

Last straw.

The last straw is the final problem. This problem usually comes at the end of a series of problems, finally pushing someone's patience beyond their limit.

Don't have a clue.

When you don't have a clue, you're oblivious. It means you have no knowledge or understanding.

Double whammy.

A double whammy is an extra blow or setback. When you get sick, then your spouse leaves you, it's a double whammy.

At one fell swoop.

To do something with one fell swoop means to do it suddenly. It is done in a single action.

A frog in the throat.

When you have a frog in your throat, you're experiencing temporary hoarseness, usually due to phlegm.

Go postal.

When you go postal, you fly into a violent rage. This is often caused by workplace stress.

Hit the hay.

When you hit the hay, you go to bed. The phrase has been used in the USA since the early 20th century.

Not a spark of decency.

When you haven't a spark of decency, then you have absolutely no manners. No one wants to encounter someone without a spark of decency.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

If a description applies to you, then you must accept it. So when someone says, "if the shoe fits," or "if the shoe fits, wear it," they're telling you to accept something about yourself.

Just deserts.

To receive your just deserts is to receive a punishment that you deserve. If you killed someone, you receive your just deserts by going to jail.

Take a back seat.

When you take a back seat, you are subordinating yourself. You're being a follower, not a leader.

Rack and ruin.

Your rack and ruin is your total destruction. Booze is the rack and ruin of an alcoholic.

Mind your Ps and Qs.

When you are minding your Ps and Qs, you're being on your best behavior. You're also careful with your words.

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