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

How many popular sayings can you think of? The total number of common phrases 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 existing, you will likely come across some that you’re unfamiliar with. Then you’re left to wonder: “What does that mean, and where does it come from?”

Well, that’s what Know Your Phrase is for! We have a list full of hundreds 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. Simply choose a letter to start exploring, or choose one of the categories below.

A List of Phrases and Sayings For Animals, Sports, & More

A list of animal sayings, cute dog icon

Animal Phrases

Here is a list of common phrases related to animals. You’ll find birds, dog and cat sayings, and more! It is paw-some, so what are you waiting fur?

phrases related to sports

Sports Phrases

A dictionary of popular sayings that come from sports. These include baseball, boxing, horse racing, etc. It’s game time!

Food Phrases

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

Newly Added Phrases:

happy sayings faceHappy and Sad Sayings

People use a variety of phrases to express their emotions. If you want to see some of the commonly used sayings for feelings such as happiness and sadness, then here you go.

Houston, We Have a Problem

You’ve probably heard of this one before. While the meaning of this expression needs no explanation, you can now read about its origin story and see where it came from.

short sayings - paint the town redPaint the Town Red

Another phrase has been added to our collection of sayings. This one is about ‘painting the town red.’ Now you can read up on its definition and check out its origin story.

Let Bygones Be Bygones

Look, how about we let bygones be bygones, what do you say? This is an old English phrase that has to do with forgiveness. Learn about its meaning.

Common Phrases In English

Here is a list of 15 commonly used phrases in the English language. These are just some examples, for the full list, use the top menu:

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.

The Origin of Sayings

Some of the old sayings on here have their own individual page where you can learn all about them, including their origin. Unfortunately, where these expressions come from is not always clear. So in cases where the origin is not known, here is what will generally happen:

If any plausible explanations exist that talk about how the phrase originated, these will be included on its page. If no explanations exist, then nothing will be included. However, you will still be able to find the earliest known quote of the saying being used. The purpose of these quotes is to give you an idea on how old it is. For example, if a phrase’s earliest appearance is from a newspaper in the year 1900, then we’ll quote that newspaper. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean the term originated from that source nor that year. It simply means it’s at least that old.

In addition, it’s possible that older citations exist than the ones we have listed. If that happens, feel free to email us with a correction. We’d appreciate it!

About Us

What is this site about? Look, it’s simple. We have hundreds of common phrases and sayings for you to explore. You can learn all about their meaning and origin! That’s us in a nutshell. Our goal is to help people understand what all of these old common sayings mean. So be sure to use the alphabetical list at the top and start exploring. Remember, more phrases will be added to the list in time, so be sure to check back again to see what’s new.

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