Common Phrases, Popular Sayings – A List With Their Meaning and Origin

How many common phrases and popular sayings can you think of? The total number of them that are used around the world is quite staggering, yet you might only be able to name a few. You’ll often hear these expressions in every day conversations while at work, school, or even at home. With so many of them existing, you’ll likely come across some that you’re unfamiliar with. Then you may wonder: “What does that mean, and where does it come from?”

Well, that’s what Know Your Phrase is for! We have a list that’s full of phrases and sayings. You can use this list to learn about their meaning and origin. To get started, tap (or click) the menu above. Then pick a letter to start exploring, or you can choose a category from the slider below.


Newest – Phrases and Sayings


The phrase 'a friend in need is a friend indeed'A Friend In Need Is a Friend Indeed

You’ve probably heard the phrase “a friend in need is a friend indeed,” but what does it mean? And what about its origin? Learn the answers to those questions here.


phrases - have your cake and eat it tooYou Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

This proverb says “you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” but why can’t you do both? Learn more on that, plus see the meaning and origin of this common phrase.


The saying - you can lead a horse to waterYou Can Lead a Horse To Water, But You Can’t Make It Drink

​When someone says the proverb “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink,” what are they trying to say? Find out, plus see examples of it.


The saying, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder– Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Do you think this painting I worked on looks nice? No? Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Find out the meaning of this phrase, and more.


Here you will find several popular sayings that come from sports, including baseball, boxing, and more. This list will grow as more terms are added to the site, so check back to see more.

phrases, football sports

Here is a list of common phrases that are related to animals. There are dogs, cats, and more! This page will get bigger as more expressions are added.

phrases about animals

A delicious list of sayings related to food, drink, and eating. Take a look, it's as easy as pie! Unless it's not your cup of tea. Alright, I'll stop.

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Common Phrases In English

What are phrases? A phrase is a group of words. They can be long or short. Below you will see 15 popular phrases that begin with the letters A, B, and C. These are only a few examples. If you want the full list, use the menu at the top.

A – Phrases

1. A Chip on Your Shoulder
Being angry about something that happened in the past; holding a grudge.

2. A Dime a Dozen
When something is extremely common and/or simple to acquire.

3. A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted
Someone acting foolish with their money can easily lose it due to carelessness.
 
4. A Piece of Cake
A task that is simple to complete; something that is easy to do. Similar to the common phrase “as easy as pie.”

5. An Arm and a Leg
Something that’s very expensive; an idiom meaning the price that has to be paid is costly.

B – Expressions

6. Back to Square One
Going back to the beginning; a popular saying that means a person has to start over, similar to ‘back to the drawing board.’

7. Barking Up The Wrong Tree
To make a wrong assumption about someone or something.
 
8. Beating Around the Bush
This means a person is talking about something, but they are avoiding the main point, intentionally or not. 

9. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Being faced with two difficult choices; popular saying used to describe a dilemma.

10. Burst Your Bubble
To ruin someone’s happy moment or mood, usually by telling them disappointing news or information.

C – Phrases

11. Close But No Cigar
Coming close to a successful outcome only to fall short at the end.

12. Cry Over Spilled Milk
One shouldn’t worry over things that have already happened and that cannot be changed.

13. Cup of Joe
A cup of joe is an American nickname for a cup of coffee.
 
14. Curiosity Killed The Cat
An idiom meaning mind your own business, as too much poking and prodding could lead to harm.

15. Cut To The Chase
To get to the point, leaving out all of the unnecessary details. Similar to popular sayings such as “beating around the bush.”

There’s plenty more expressions on here to learn about, over 170+ and more will be coming. So go learn about their meanings and where they come, or in other words, their origin.

Popular Sayings And Their Origin

I want to be clear and say that the origin of some sayings are unknown. So, in cases such as this, here’s what will generally happen:

If any plausible explanations exist that talk about how the phrase originated, then these will be included on  its page. If no explanations exist, then at the very least, there will be a quote included on its page. These quotes are to give you, the reader, an idea on how old the phrase is. They are also typically the earliest known appearance of the expression in print (that I could find). So, for example, if the earliest I could find a saying in print is from a newspaper in the year 1900, then I’ll quote that. However, this does not necessarily mean the term originated from this exact year. All it means is that the phrase is at least that old.

Anyways, these citations most often come from old books, newspapers, poems, or plays, and are sometimes many centuries old. It’s possible that older citations exist than the ones I have listed, and if that happens, feel free to email with a correction.

So, that’s it I guess. Remember, more common sayings and their meanings are being added on here, so use that menu at the top and get exploring!


About Us

Put simply, the purpose of this site is to help people learn the meaning and origin of popular sayings. Yes, with so many phrases existing, at some point, we may hear some and have no idea what they mean. But that’s okay, because if that ever happens, then let this site help! Just use our alphabetical list of common phrases at the top to find and learn all about them.