Animal Phrases, Dog and Cat Sayings, Plus More

Here you will find a list of common phrases related to animals and their meaning. Each of these animal sayings can be tapped for additional details. Additionally, you may notice different groupings listed. This is because certain animals, like dog and cat phrases, have more expressions associated with them. For fun, a more general list was included too.

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Tip: Some of the animal phrases and sayings on here can be tapped for further details. You can learn where they came from and even see their first appearance in print.

Common Cat Sayings & Idioms

There are several sayings about cats that are commonly heard in English. This is unsurprising given how popular these animals are. You may know most of these cat idioms because they are old, so they’ve been around for a while. However, if this is your first time seeing these cat sayings, well meow might be a good time to look through them to learn what they mean.

Cat SayingsMeaning
Cat burglarA thief who stealthily steals from houses and other places
Cat fightA quarrel or fight between two women
Cat got your tongueOne who is speechless, having nothing to say
Cat napSleeping for a short while
Copy catSomeone who copies from another person
Curiosity killed the catTypically said to those who are nosy because their prying behavior may lead to harm
Having nine livesOne who has escaped a dangerous situation
Let the cat out of the bagThis phrase means to make secret information known
Raining cats and dogsA common saying used to describe heavy rainfall
Scaredy-catSomeone who is afraid or terrified

Familiar Dog Phrases & Expressions

It is only fair for these dog phrases to be here too. These expressions are used regularly by people, even though they do not come up all the time during conversations. Still, these phrases will be familiar to many people because they occur and are used frequently enough. Despite being related to one animal, these common dog phrases can be used in a number of situations, depending on the context.

Dog PhrasesMeaning
All bark and no biteBeing full of talk, but with little or no action behind it
Barking up the wrong treeTo make a wrong assumption about someone or something
Doggy bagA bag used at a restaurant to put leftover food in
Let sleeping dogs lieLeaving a situation alone in order to not stir up more problems
Puppy dog eyesMaking one’s face and eyes look a certain way so as to look innocent
Sick as a dogA person who is very ill
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dogThis is a popular pangram in English, a sentence that uses all letters of the alphabet
UnderdogA person who is not favored to win
With your tail between your legsLeaving a situation because of being embarrassed
You can’t teach an old dog new tricksIt can be challenging to teach a person something new, especially if they are used to doing things a certain way

A List of Animal Phrases & Sayings

These animal phrases and sayings are related to birds, horses, fish and other animals. They are all grouped together instead of having their own individual category. For many of these common sayings, you can tell which animal they are associated with simply by reading the phrase.

Animal SayingsMeaning
An elephant never forgetsA person with a good memory
Beating a dead horseBringing up old issues that have already been resolved or that have already been talked about at length
Birds of a feather flock togetherPeople tend to associate with others who share similar interests or values
Bull in a china shopSomeone who is clumsy
Crocodile tearsExpressing sorrow in a way that fake or insincere
Cry wolfSomeone who is lying
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouthOne should show appreciation after receiving a gift rather than being ungrateful
Elephant in the roomIgnoring a large, obvious problem that stands out in a major way
Fish out of waterBeing in an unfamiliar situation
Give a man a fishIt can be more beneficial to teach a person a useful skill than filling a need for them once
Go down the rabbit holeStarting to do something that may appear simple at first, but later it becomes more complex than previously thought
Happy as a clamThe state of being happy; feeling delighted
Hold your horsesA way of saying to wait, stop, or hold on
I smell a ratA suspicious feeling that someone is not trustworthy
Like shooting fish in a barrelSomething that is easy to do; an activity that is simple to accomplish
Long in the toothBeing old in age
Love birdsTwo people who are displaying affection towards each other
Playing possumPretending to be dead, or being purposefully deceitful
Sitting ducksSomeone that is in a vulnerable position; being in danger
The early bird gets the wormArriving early to a place can be advantageous
The straw that broke the camel’s backA series of annoying occurrences that eventually lead to one final thing that causes a person to lose patience
Ugly ducklingA person who appears plain at first in appearance or capability, but later they turn out to be spectacular
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drinkYou can provide someone with a great opportunity, but you can’t force them to take it

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