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100 Best Idioms for IELTS Speaking Exam: How to Use Them?

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Updated on Jul 11, 2024, 06:52

Have you ever noticed how languages have their own unique ways of expressing things?
 

When you're learning a new language, the way words come together might not always be crystal clear. In English, we often use these special expressions called idioms that help us chat and convey ourselves in a more interesting way.
 

Idioms are the secret weapon of a fluent English speaker. They're a fun and creative way to add flavour to your language. Mastering idioms can make all the difference in your IELTS Speaking test.  
 

Here, we'll explore common and effective Idioms for IELTS Speaking, along with tips on using them confidently and appropriately to boost your fluency and score.

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1. What are Idioms for IELTS Speaking?

Idioms for IELTS Speaking are expressions that don't literally mean what they say. They're used in everyday conversation to add flavour and interest to what you're saying. Think of them like spices in your language - they can make your speech more engaging and fun!

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2. List of 100 Best Idioms for IELTS Speaking

Idioms are an important part of the English language. They can really make your speaking sound more natural. Just make sure not to overuse them or use them incorrectly, as it could impact your score.

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3. Difference between IELTS Idioms and Phrases

Both idioms and phrases are important for the IELTS Speaking test. 

 

Idioms can add creative and engaging aspects to your language, making your speech more engaging and interesting. On the other hand, phrases are essential for clear and effective communication.

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4. Top 20 Phrasal Verbs to Help You for the IELTS Speaking Exam

Phrasal verbs are tricky combinations of verbs followed by prepositions or adverbs that native speakers use frequently. They make your speech sound more natural and less formal, which can really help boost your score on the IELTS speaking test. 

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5. Tips to Practice Idioms for IELTS Speaking Effectively

Idioms can be tricky to use correctly. You need to understand what they mean, how to use them in context, and how to pronounce them correctly.

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1.

What are Idioms for IELTS Speaking?

Idioms for IELTS Speaking are expressions that don't literally mean what they say. They're used in everyday conversation to add flavour and interest to what you're saying. Think of them like spices in your language - they can make your speech more engaging and fun!
 

For instance, if someone says they're "feeling under the weather," they don't mean they're literally under the weather. They're just saying they don't feel well.
 

When you're taking the IELTS Speaking test, the examiners are actually listening for how well you can use this kind of idiomatic language. That is why using them in IELTS can help you to achieve a higher band score.
 

Why Use?


 

Using idioms can really spice up your language and make it more engaging. They help you sound more natural and fluent in English, which is especially handy for the IELTS Speaking test.
 

So, why should you use idioms for IELTS Speaking?
 

  • Using idioms correctly shows that you have a strong command of the English language. It's a great way to show off your ability to use the language in a creative and effective way.
     
  • Idioms often carry meanings that are deeper than their literal words suggest. When you use these in your IELTS Speaking test, you can present your ideas more clearly and persuasively to the examiner. While they might be tricky at first, but with practice, you'll get the hang of even the toughest ones.
     
  • The IELTS speaking test assesses your "lexical resource," which basically means your vocabulary range. Using idioms can demonstrate that you have a rich vocabulary, which can help boost your band score.

 

That's why it's crucial to grasp the meaning of idioms and how to use them.

 

How to Use?

 

Before you use idioms in your language, It's important to ensure that they are appropriate and used in the correct context. Using them incorrectly can affect your fluency and score. 

 

Here are some ways how you can use idioms for IELTS speaking:


 

  • Don't overdo it: Using idioms strategically is great, but using them too much can come across as unnatural and even annoying. You don't want to give the wrong impression to your examiner!
     
  • Get your verb tenses right: Some idioms use irregular verbs like "gotten" or "drove", so make sure you adjust them according to the tense you're using. Otherwise, it'll be out of context.
     
  • Avoid cliches: Using super common idioms can give the impression that you didn't prepare well. Instead, try to come up with more original sentence structures.
     
  • Context is key: Make sure the idioms you use fit the conversation. Don't force them in where they don't belong! Just be sure to use them in context and appropriately, or it might sound like you're trying too hard.
     

Now, let’s look at the list of common idioms for IELTS speaking.

2.

List of 100 Best Idioms for IELTS Speaking

Idioms are an important part of the English language. They can really make your speaking sound more natural. Just make sure not to overuse them or use them incorrectly, as it could impact your score.

 

The list covers 100 of the most common and useful idioms for the IELTS speaking test.

 

 

Idiom

Meaning

Example

A blessing in disguiseSomething good that isn't recognised at firstLosing that job was a blessing in disguise.
A dime a dozenSomething common and not specialSouvenirs are a dime a dozen in tourist areas.
Beat around the bushAvoid saying what you mean, usually because it is uncomfortableStop beating around the bush, and tell me what you really think.
Better late than neverIt's better to do something late than not do it at allShe finally turned in her assignment; better late than never.
Bite the bulletTo get something over with because it is inevitableI'll just bite the bullet and get my wisdom teeth removed.
Break a legGood luckBreak a leg at your performance tonight!
Call it a dayStop working on somethingI'm tired; let's call it a day.
Cut somebody some slackDon't be so criticalCut him some slack; he's having a rough week.
Cutting cornersDoing something poorly in order to save time or moneyHe got into trouble at work for cutting corners on the safety checks.
Easy does itSlow downEasy does it! There's no need to rush.
Get out of handGet out of controlThe party got out of hand, and the police were called.
Get your act togetherWork better or leaveYou need to get your act together if you want to stay employed.
Give someone the benefit of the doubtTrust what someone saysI don't think he meant to hurt you; give him the benefit of the doubt.
Hang in thereDon't give upI know it's tough, but hang in there.
Hit the sackGo to sleepI'm exhausted; I'm going to hit the sack.
It's not rocket scienceIt's not complicatedJust follow the instructions; it's not rocket science.
Let someone off the hookTo not hold someone responsible for somethingShe let him off the hook for breaking the vase.
Make a long story shortTell something brieflyTo make a long story short, we missed the flight.
Miss the boatIt's too lateI forgot to apply for the job, and now I've missed the boat.
No pain, no gainYou have to work for what you wantNo pain, no gain if you want to build muscle.
On the ballDoing a good jobShe's really on the ball with her project.
Pull someone's legTo joke with someoneRelax, I'm just pulling your leg.
Pull yourself togetherCalm downPull yourself together and tell me what happened.
So far so goodThings are going well so farThe project isn't finished yet, but so far so good.
Speak of the devilThe person we were just talking about showed upSpeak of the devil; there he is now.
The best of both worldsAn ideal situationShe has the best of both worlds: a great career and a happy family.
Time flies when you're having funTime seems to pass quickly during enjoyable activitiesI can't believe it's already midnight. Time flies when you're having fun.
To get bent out of shapeTo get upsetDon't get bent out of shape about the new rules.
To make matters worseMake a problem worseI was late and to make matters worse, I forgot my keys.
Under the weatherNot feeling wellI'm feeling a bit under the weather today.
We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.Deal with a problem if and when it becomes necessaryWe don't need to decide now; we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Wrap your head around somethingUnderstand something complicatedIt's hard to wrap my head around these new regulations.
You can say that againThat's true; I agreeThis weather is awful! You can say that again.
Your guess is as good as mineI have no ideaWhen will we get the results? Your guess is as good as mine.
A perfect stormThe worst possible situationIt was a perfect storm of bad luck and poor planning.
Break the iceMake people feel more comfortableThe joke helped to break the ice at the meeting.
Costs an arm and a legVery expensiveThe new car costs an arm and a leg.
Hit the nail on the headDo or say something exactly rightYou hit the nail on the head with your analysis.
Let the cat out of the bagReveal a secretShe let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party.
On thin iceIn a risky situationYou're on thin ice with your boss after being late again.
Once in a blue moonVery rarelyWe only see each other once in a blue moon.
The ball is in your courtIt's your decision or responsibility to do somethingI've done my part; now the ball is in your court.
The last strawThe final problem in a series of problemsHer rude comment was the last straw.
Through thick and thinThrough good times and bad timesThey've stayed together through thick and thin.
To add insult to injuryTo make a bad situation worseHe was late, and then, to add insult to injury, he forgot his keys.
A penny for your thoughtsAsking someone what they are thinkingYou seem quiet. A penny for your thoughts?
Actions speak louder than wordsWhat you do is more important than what you sayActions speak louder than words, so show me you care.
Barking up the wrong treeLooking in the wrong place, accusing the wrong personIf you think I took it, you're barking up the wrong tree.
Burn the midnight oilWork late into the nightShe burned the midnight oil to finish her report.
Hit the roadTo leaveIt's time to hit the road before traffic gets bad.
A piece of cakeVery easyThe test was a piece of cake.
Back to square oneStart overWe failed, so it's back to square one.
Bite off more than you can chewTake on more than you can handleHe bit off more than he could chew by accepting two jobs.
Break the bankSpend all your moneyThe vacation will break the bank if we stay in a luxury hotel.
Bring home the baconTo earn a livingHe works hard to bring home the bacon.
Burn bridgesDestroy relationshipsDon't burn bridges by being rude.
Call it a nightStop working for the eveningLet's call it a night and finish tomorrow.
Cross that bridge when you come to itDeal with a problem when it arisesWe'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Cry over spilled milkComplain about a loss from the pastThere's no use crying over spilled milk.
Curiosity killed the catBeing inquisitive can lead to troubleBe careful with your questions; curiosity killed the cat.
Devil's advocateArgue for the sake of itI'll play devil's advocate and question your assumptions.
Down in the dumpsFeeling sad or depressedHe's been down in the dumps since he lost his job.
Draw the lineSet a limitWe need to draw the line at disruptive behaviour.
Elephant in the roomAn obvious problem that's being ignoredWe need to address the elephant in the room.
Every cloud has a silver liningThere's something good in every bad situationAfter losing his job, he found a better one. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Feeling under the weatherFeeling illI'm feeling a bit under the weather today.
Go the extra mileMake an extra effortShe's always willing to go the extra mile for her friends.
Hit the booksStudy hardI need to hit the books if I want to pass my exams.
In the same boatIn the same situationWe're all in the same boat regarding the budget cuts.
It takes two to tangoBoth parties involved in a situation are responsibleDon't blame him entirely; it takes two to tango.
Jump on the bandwagonJoin a popular activity or trendShe jumped on the bandwagon and started yoga.
Keep your chin upStay positiveKeep your chin up, and things will get better.
Leave no stone unturnedSearch thoroughlyWe'll leave no stone unturned to find a solution.
Let sleeping dogs lieDon't disturb a situation as it isLet's not discuss that issue again; let sleeping dogs lie.
Make a mountain out of a molehillExaggerate a small problemShe's making a mountain out of a molehill with this issue.
On cloud nineExtremely happyShe was on cloud nine after getting the job.
Out of the blueUnexpectedlyShe called me out of the blue.
Play it by earDecide as you goLet's play it by ear and see what happens.
Rain on someone's paradeRuin someone's plansDon't rain on my parade with your negativity.
Rome wasn't built in a dayGreat things take timeBe patient; Rome wasn't built in a day.
See eye to eyeAgreeWe don't always see eye to eye on everything.
Sit on the fenceRemain neutralHe's sitting on the fence and won't take sides.
Sleep on itThink about something before making a decisionLet me sleep on it, and I'll give you an answer tomorrow.
Spill the beansReveal a secretShe spilled the beans about the surprise party.
Steal someone's thunderTake credit for someone else's achievementsHe stole my thunder by announcing the news first.
Stick to your gunsMaintain your positionDespite the criticism, he stuck to his guns.
Straight from the horse's mouthFrom a reliable sourceI heard it straight from the horse's mouth.
Take it with a grain of saltDon't take it too seriouslyTake his advice with a grain of salt.
The early bird catches the wormSuccess comes to those who prepare wellShe always gets up early; the early bird catches the worm.
The whole nine yardsEverything, all the wayShe went the whole nine yards for her wedding.
Throw in the towelGive upHe threw in the towel after a tough match.
Turn a blind eyeIgnore somethingThe manager turned a blind eye to the minor infraction.
Under the radarNot getting attentionThe new policy change went under the radar.
Up in the airUncertainThe decision is still up in the air.
Water under the bridgeSomething in the past that is no longer importantLet's forget about our disagreement; it's water under the bridge.
When pigs flyNeverHe'll clean his room when pigs fly.
You can't judge a book by its coverDon't judge by appearancesShe may seem quiet, but you can't judge a book by its cover.
Your callYour decisionIt's your call whether we stay or leave.
3.

Difference between IELTS Idioms and Phrases

Both idioms and phrases are important for the IELTS Speaking test. 
 

Idioms can add creative and engaging aspects to your language, making your speech more engaging and interesting. On the other hand, phrases are essential for clear and effective communication.
 

Let’s understand the difference between the IELTS Idioms and Phrases.

 

Aspect

Idioms

Phrases

MeaningIdioms are fixed expressions with a non-literal meaning.phrases are commonly used groups of words that have a specific meaning
ContextOften used in informal or conversational contexts.It can be used in both formal and informal contexts.
PurposeUsed to add colour and emphasis, often making speech sound more native-like.Used to clearly convey ideas and information.
FlexibilityOften culture-specific and might not translate well across languages.Generally, it is more universal and easier to understand across different cultures.
ExamplesKill two birds with one stone (achieve two things with one action)In my opinion (expressing a personal belief)
4.

Top 20 Phrasal Verbs to Help You for the IELTS Speaking Exam

Phrasal verbs are tricky combinations of verbs followed by prepositions or adverbs that native speakers use frequently. They make your speech sound more natural and less formal, which can really help boost your score on the IELTS speaking test. So, it’s definitely worth practising and using them correctly in relevant parts during the test.
 

Check out this list of 20 phrasal verbs to help you prepare for the IELTS Speaking Exam.
 

 

Phrasal Verb

Meaning

Example

Break downStop functioning (usually machinery)My car broke down on the way to work.
Bring upMention a topicShe brought up the issue during the meeting.
Call offCancelThey called off the wedding due to unforeseen circumstances.
Carry onContinue doing somethingDespite the interruption, he carried on with his presentation.
Come acrossFind unexpectedlyI came across an old friend at the mall yesterday.
Find outDiscoverI need to find out what time the movie starts.
Get alongHave a good relationshipThey get along well with each other.
Give upStop tryingHe gave up smoking last year.
Go onContinuePlease go on with your story.
Look afterTake care ofShe looks after her younger brother.
Look forward toAnticipate with pleasureI look forward to meeting you.
Make upInvent, lie about somethingShe made up a story to cover her absence.
Pick upCollect or liftI need to pick up my dry cleaning.
Put offPostponeWe had to put off the meeting until next week.
Run intoMeet unexpectedlyI ran into my teacher at the supermarket.
Set upArrange, organiseThey set up a new company last year.
Take afterResemble a family memberHe takes after his mother in looks.
Take offRemove (clothing)Please take off your shoes before entering.
Turn downRejectShe turned down the job offer.
Turn upAppear or arriveHe turned up late to the party.

 

To know more such vocabulary words, click here.

5.

Tips to Practice Idioms for IELTS Speaking Effectively

Idioms can be tricky to use correctly. You need to understand what they mean, how to use them in context, and how to pronounce them correctly.
 

Here are tips that will help you practise idioms effectively for IELTS Speaking:
 

Accuracy matters
 

Idioms are expressions that can totally change what you're trying to say—if you use them in a right way.  But if you get them wrong, it can be confusing. 
 

Make sure you understand the meaning of each idiom before using it in your IELTS Speaking test. Don't just memorise - learn how to use them in context!



Use Suitable idioms  
 

Using idioms is all about appropriateness. You don't want to use a formal idiom in a casual conversation or vice versa. Ensure you're using the right idioms for the right situation, and don't force them in where they don't belong. 
 

It's all about sounding natural and fluent! Practice using idioms in various contexts to ensure you can use them effectively during the IELTS speaking test.
 

Pronounce correctly
 

This is where a lot of people trip up - they know the idiom, but they're not sure how to pronounce it.  Some of these idioms can sound a bit tricky if you're not used to them. 
 

It's worth practising saying them out loud; maybe record yourself and play it back.

Practise your pronunciation so that you can use idioms confidently and clearly.
 

Read and listen to idioms regularly. 
 

To get more familiar with idioms, you can watch TV shows or read scripts, articles, or books where people use them frequently. Also, listen to English podcasts to hear how native speakers use idioms in everyday conversation.
 

Practice
 

Remember, practice makes perfect! The more you practise using idioms, the more natural they'll sound in your speaking test.

 

Also Read: IELTS Speaking Practice Test

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FAQs

Q. Can I use idioms for IELTS speaking?

Ans. Yes, you can use idioms in the IELTS speaking test. They can help showcase your language proficiency if used correctly and naturally. However, avoid overusing them and ensure they fit the context of your conversation.

Q. How can idioms be used for the IELTS speaking test?

Ans. Idioms can be used to add colour and authenticity to your speech during the IELTS speaking test. You should use them when they naturally fit into your response, ensuring you understand their meaning and use them appropriately. This demonstrates a higher level of fluency and vocabulary.

Q. What are some commonly used idioms for the IELTS speaking test?

Ans. Some of the commonly used idioms for the IELTS speaking test include:
 

"Break the ice" (to start a conversation)

"Piece of cake" (something easy)

"Hit the nail on the head" (to be exactly right)

"Burn the midnight oil" (to work late into the night)

Q. How do idioms differ from collocations?

Ans. Idioms are phrases with meanings that aren't obvious from the individual words (e.g., "kick the bucket" means to die). Collocations are combinations of words that are often used together in a way that sounds natural (e.g., "make a decision"). Idioms often have a metaphorical meaning, while collocations are straightforward.

Q. In which parts of the IELTS speaking test can idioms be used?

Ans. Idioms can be used in all parts of the IELTS speaking test: during the introduction, in response to the short questions in Part 1, the long turn in Part 2, and the discussion in Part 3. They are particularly useful for expressing opinions and describing experiences.


 

Q. If I Use a Lot of Idioms, Will It Boost My IELTS Speaking Score?

Ans. Using idioms can boost your score if done correctly, as they demonstrate your grasp of the language. However, overusing them or using them incorrectly can hurt your score. It's better to use a few idioms well than to force them into your speech unnaturally.

Q. Are there any idioms for IELTS speaking that I should avoid using?

Ans.  You should avoid using idioms that you’re not completely confident about, as well as those that are overly informal, outdated, or culturally specific and might not be understood by the examiner. Stick to common idioms that fit naturally into your conversation.


 

Q. How Many Idioms Should I Use in the IELTS Speaking Test?

Ans. There’s no set number of idioms that you should use. You should focus on using them naturally and appropriately rather than aiming for a specific count. Even a few well-placed idioms can significantly enhance your performance if they fit the context and are used correctly.


 

Q: How can I ensure I use idioms correctly in context?

Ans. Understand the exact meaning and typical usage of each idiom. Practice by writing sentences and getting feedback from native speakers or teachers. Using idioms in various contexts will help you grasp their proper application.
 

Q: What if I can't think of an idiom during the IELTS speaking test?

Ans. Don't worry if you can't recall an idiom on the spot. Focus on speaking clearly and fluently. It's better to speak naturally without idioms than to force them into your speech. Idioms are just one aspect of demonstrating language proficiency.

Q: Will the examiner be impressed if I use rare or complex idioms?

Ans. Using rare or complex idioms can be risky. The examiner might not be familiar with them, or you might use them incorrectly. It's safer to use common idioms correctly and naturally, as this will effectively demonstrate your language skills.