The Common Phrases Quiz


By: Kennita Leon

6 Min Quiz

Image: Getty Images / Blend Images / Marc Romanelli

About This Quiz

The English language is a funny thing, not only because it's very complicated- just ask the foreigners- but also because we say things that don't make sense while making perfect sense. In which other language can you tell a person to break a limb and they respond with a smile and a thank you? And while we're not sure why or how phrases came to be, we are thankful for their presence, because they do make speaking more fun. 

And we're about to have some fun in this quiz by asking you what some common phrases mean. We'll ask you a question about how a sentence or question should be phrased and it'll be your job to choose the idiom or figure of speech that does just that. We'll talk about breaking legs, costing arms and legs, letting cats go free and spilling some beans. If you can answer enough of our questions to pass this quiz, we'll crown you an English expert. 

So, if you'd like to prove to us that you know your phrases as well as you think you do, it's time to start answering our questions. 

Which of these phrases mean to joke with someone?

Someone who is teasing or joking with someone may use this phrase to let that person know that they are only joking around. Someone who is unsure if a joke or prank is true may use the phrase to find out if they are being tricked by saying, "quit pulling my leg."


Which do you think refers to someone making a decision or move?

Originating from a sporting perspective, this common idiom means that responsibility has now been passed to someone. The ball represents an action or decision, while ‘your court' would mean that it is up to that person to decide what they will do.


Can you tell us which phrase drives home the meaning of hard work?

A mantra that means in order to achieve something of higher quality may it be in fitness, lifestyle or education, it is necessary to put one's self through a measure of pain and suffering to attain greatness.


Which phrase refers to something that isn't very valuable?

The value of a dime is seen as worthless, and the dozen refers to a large amount. Therefore, when this common phrase is used, it means there are many of a certain item, which is probably cheap to acquire, making it not very valuable or special.


What must you not do if you want to keep a secret?

When a secret is revealed, this is referred to as spilling the beans. Spilling the beans or revealing a secret may happen accidentally or that person may do it intentionally with that information being revealed prematurely and may even lead to spoiling a surprise.


Completing more than one task at a time is a great accomplishment. Which phrase coveys that?

When a single action is used to complete two tasks at the same time, saving time, energy and effort, this term can be referenced. It can also be used in problem-solving and sharing of resources.


How would you say you're not feeling well?

This phrase is commonly used when one is feeling ill or sick. It is thought to be derived from the effect that the weather can have on an individual's health. For instance, getting caught in the rain can cause someone to have the flu.


Which of the following phrases say that advanced planning yields good results?

This phrase makes reference to achieving success through early planning and early starts. The worm represents an achievement and the bird represents the individual. To achieve a goal, that individual should start as soon as possible.


Do you know which option conveys how easy something is?

To say something is a piece of cake means that a task is easy to accomplish. Just like a cake is easy to slice into to retrieve a piece, something can be easily done when this common phrase is used.


Which is another way of asking someone what's on their mind?

This phrase can be told to someone who is in quiet reflection when an individual would like to know what that person is thinking. It is another way of asking, "What's on your mind?"


Which of the following actions is said when an unpleasant act must be done?

When someone has to accept or perform an unpleasant act, usually after initially hesitating. The history behind this term is said to be derived from the practice of having a patient bite down on a bullet to cope with the extreme pain of a surgical procedure.


How would you tell someone that something really isn't that difficult?

The concept of rocket science is one that is viewed as being extremely difficult to comprehend or perform. This phrase means that whatever action or level of understanding is needed is not at all difficult.


Which of the following phrases is synonymous with having patience?

Promoting the virtue of having patience, this phrase looks to remind individuals that having patience is the key to achieving good things. It also solidifies that patience will be rewarded.


Which phrase below means to not presume something until it's truly over?

A stereotypical opera involves a fat lady singing to signify the end of the proceeding. This term, therefore, means that while an activity is going on, one should not predict or presume the end result, until it is indeed over.


How do you tell someone you have more important things to handle?

To give something more importance over something else. When something is a waste of time and keeps someone from engaging in other tasks or actions that are deemed more valuable, this phrase can be used.


Which option is a very strange and somewhat harsh way of saying "good luck"?

Coming out of the theater realm, this phrase is a way to wish someone good luck. Superstition plays a major role in this phrase; it was believed that to wish someone "good luck" before going on stage would cause their downfall.


How would you tell someone that they better be careful, or they'll risk your wrath?

To be on thin ice means that an individual is in a risky situation where any wrong move can result in unpleasant circumstances. The thinness of the ice represents the shaky ground that an individual is walking on and the weight of the decision made can make that individual break through the ice and fall into cold water.


What do you do when you want to cut out the unnecessary details?

Leaving out non-essential parts of a story to get to the point or to get to the end of the story is what this common phrase is about. In essence, it means to summarize the story.


How you say you're going to bed?

If this phrase is thrown around, it means that an individual is tired. Hitting the sack means that someone wants to go to sleep, or wants to find themselves in a bed.


Which of the options is basically saying that having everything your way is not possible?

If someone eats their cake, they no longer have it anymore, so it simply means that a choice must be made. If an individual is struggling between decisions, this phrase is used to let them know that there can only be one choice.


Which phrase is saying that similar people tend to hang out with each other?

It refers to people who have similar traits or tastes in similar things andcharacteristics associated with each other. This common phrase gets inspiration from nature, that shows birds of the same species group together.


How would you convey that you're starting from scratch?

Having to come up with a new idea, after the initial one is viewed to have flaws or does not meet expectations. The drawing board is a figurative term to mean that new ideas and plans need to be drawn, written or produced.


This term also refers to telling a secret. Which is it?

This phrase can be used interchangeably with ‘spilling the beans' because the two have the same meaning. To let the cat out of the bag means to reveal a secret, usually unintentionally.


What would you happily mutter right right before you leave work?

Concerning the working environment, this phrase is used when all energy is gone and individuals engaging in an activity decide to end and take a needed rest. This phrase can be used when training for a sport, practicing for theater, decorating a cake, or just about any activity.


How would you say someone is being a bit frosty with you?

A deliberate attempt to stop being friendly toward someone or to start ignoring someone is referred to as giving a cold shoulder. This act of disregarding someone can usually leave the person wondering what brought on this sudden change in behavior.


Which phrase shows that two dissimilar items should not be measured on the same scale?

When an item or group of items are compared that have no comparable qualities about them. The two very different fruits are seen as incomparable and this common phrase is used to highlight the differences between two groups of things.


Which of these would you say just before giving up on something or someone?

After many bouts of irritation, annoyance or frustration, this phrase is used to signify that an action has crossed the boundaries. It's the final problem that breaks someone down, makes someone lose their patience and pushes that person beyond their limit.


Which phrase is used to describe an initially bad experience which yields great results?

When an event or a set of circumstances that seem unlucky, like being late for work, losing a coin toss or missing a bus, turns out to have good results in the end.


What's a pretty morbid way of saying something is expensive?

No one would consider selling their arm or their leg because these body parts are seen as extremely valuable. Therefore, when something is said to cost an arm and a leg, it means that it is very expensive.


How would one say that they'll judge you innocent until proven guilty?

To believe that someone is telling the truth or to retain a state of neutral opinion about an individual until all the facts of a situation are presented. In essence, to believe that person is honest.


What's a fun way of saying someone is stalling?

This is the opposite of the common phrase, "making a long story short." When beating around the bush, someone is avoiding the core details of a subject and discussing all irrelevant matters rather than pertinent issues.


How would you say that something happens very rarely?

This phrase is used to signify a rare occurrence. Since blue moons have wide gaps of time between them, this phrase is used to show time and the frequency, or lack of frequency, of an occurrence.


Of the following, which means to spoil something?

This phrase simply means to spoil something for someone. A parade is viewed as a happy celebration, but with rain or bad weather entering the picture, this could put a damper on the festivities. This phrase can be used to spoil someone's ideas, plans, attire or anything in which they try to engage.


Wasting your time is never a good feeling. Which phrase reflects that?

When someone keeps pursuing a certain path trying to get an outcome, but that path, action or choice is a wrong one. This term means their efforts are being wasted because they are expending their energy on the wrong thing.


Which of the options below points to something that just cannot be ignored?

When there is an obvious problem to which no one is paying attention. It is essentially an unpleasant situation or discussion that no one is willing to address.


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