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’ll 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.


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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

Unfortunately, the origin of some old sayings are not known. When that happens, here’s what you’ll generally see on the phrase’s page:

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, a quote that contains the saying will be included on its page. The purpose of these quotes is to give the reader an idea on how old the phrase is. These quotes are usually the earliest known appearance of the expression in print. For example, if a phrase’s earliest appearance is from a newspaper in the year 1900, then I’ll quote that newspaper and include it on the saying’s page. Keep in mind, however, that this doesn’t mean the term originated from that exact year. It simply means that the phrase is at least that old.

Moreover, it’s possible that older citations exist than the ones I have listed. If that happens, feel free to email with a correction. I’d appreciate it!

About Us

Find common phrases and sayings, learn their meaning, and discover their origin! That’s what this site is all about, really. We have an alphabetical list containing hundreds of common sayings, so use it to find the one you’re looking for, then learn all about it! Just the menu at the top to start exploring, and remember, more sayings are being added to the list, so be sure to check back another time to see what’s new.

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