Popular Expressions Used in the U.S.
(the) early bird catches the worm: This well-known proverb is found in many countries. If you get up early or arrive at a place early, you will be rewarded for your effort.
We have to get to the sale right when the store opens tomorrow morning. The early bird catches the worm.
early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise: if you go to bed early and wake up early, you will be a successful and healthy person. This proverb is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, an important founder of the United States.
easier said than done: something looks like it’s going to be easy, but then you soon realize it’s more difficult once you start doing the work.
Ronald thought it would take just a couple of weekends to attach a second-story deck on his house, but it was easier said than done. Instead it took him three months to do the work.
easy come, easy go: usually used with money. Money made easily is lost or spent easily.
Oh well. I just made and then lost $50 at the horse track. Easy come easy go.
eat (or have) one’s cake and have (or eat) it too: to consume or use something yet still have it as if it were not used. (Of course, this is impossible. This expression is used for impossible situations.)
She’s interested in buying the house but she refuses to make a reasonable offer. She wants to have her cake and eat it too.
* eat = have
eating out of (one’s) hand: one person can easily control another person. (This expression comes from situations in which a human being feeds an animal by hand and the animal does whatever necessary to get the food.)
He’s so in love with her, she has him eating out of her hand.
eat someone out of house and home: to eat so much that the cost of the food causes financial problems. (This is usually used as an exaggeration.)
Jimmy is eating so much these days he’s eating us out of house and home.
egg on one’s face: to be embarrassed
Bill had egg on his face when he said he thought Tammy was pregnant. In fact, she had just gained a little extra weight.
(an) embarrassment of riches: to have a lot of stuff (not always money) or benefits. (In most cases, it’s not really embarrassing.)
The company has an embarrassment of riches with all of the talented people it has been able to attract.
(the) end justifies the means: to do whatever is necessary to achieve an important goal.
Andrew and Catherine aren’t concerned that they had to lie on their loan application to get money for their house. They figured the end justifies the means.
(at the) end of one’s rope: to be at the end of one’s resources; to be in need of help.
My unemployment benefits run out next month, and with all my expenses such as rent and credit card bills, it feels like I’m at the end of my rope.
(the) end of the line: the end of a situation. It also means that a location is the last stop for a train.
This is the end of the line. Everyone off the train!
every cloud has a silver lining: in every bad situation there may be something good that can come from it.
Tony lost his job, but every cloud has a silver lining. Now he’s going back to college to study nursing.
every little bit helps: any extra money is helpful for a particular situation.
Janet sold her old CDs at a used book store to help pay for her tuition* at school. Every little bit helps.
*tuition: money paid for school
every man for himself: each person must defend himself or herself from the present danger.
Oh no! The volcano just erupted! It’s every man for himself!
everything but the kitchen sink: everything; many different things.
They had everything but the kitchen sink at the electronics show. It was very impressive.
every time I turn around: very often; all the time.
Every time I turn around, my son is playing in the dirt. He loves to get dirty.
(ones) eyes are bigger than (one’s) stomach: to order more food or put more food onto a plate than can possibly be eaten.
There’s no way we can finish all this food we ordered. I guess our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.
eyes in the back of (one’s) head: to be very aware of the situation around you; to be alert and perceptive.
A teacher of elementary school children has to have eyes in the back of her head when her back is turned to the class.