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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #112053: Idioms and animals
    > Other English exercises on the same topic: Idioms [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Vocabulary: greeting people - Adjectives and prepositions - Vocabulary: asking and answering - Vocabulary: on the phone - Vocabulary: at the restaurant - Return thanks - English idioms: Food II - Idioms; human body
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    Idioms and animals

    English has lots of animal idioms . Here are a few of them.

    -A wolf in a sheep's clothing : someone who hides his/her wickedness under a pleasant and friendly appearance.

    The idiom probably originates from the Old Testament .

    -A white elephant: something ( a present) you don't like, but which  is difficult to give away .

    The idiom probably comes from the Indian world where a white elephant was considered as sacred and therefore very expensive to keep.

    -A leopard can't change its spots : a person's character (especially if it's bad) will not change .

    The idiom originates from a Greek proverb .

    -Cash cow : a stable, reliable source of income .

    A cow that produces milk every day was a reliable source of income especially in the past.

    -Rat race : today's living in modern society with ​people fighting for ​power and ​money.

    Probably referring to a rat's efforts to survive or shun a trap.

    -A fish out of water: someone who feels uncomfortable in a particular situation.

    It seems to go back to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales .

    -A paper tiger : something that appears dangerous but is in fact harmless .

    It originates from Mao's Little Red Book , referring to the USA Government.

    -When pigs fly : something that will never happen.

    Dating back to the XVIIth century when several writers used it to refer to something impossible to do.

    -(have) a bee in one's bonnet : be much worried about or obsessed with a thought or idea .

    Probably coming from the Scottish use of bonnets ( sort of headgear). Imagine having a bee in it.

    -A bull in a china shop. Move awkwardly / be tactless.

    Referring to cattle left to wander freely at markets.

    -A cock-and-bull story : a story which is not true, told to impress people.

    The idiom comes from the names of two English pubs in Buckinghamshire where travellers stopped on their way .

    -(to have) a whale of a time : to enjoy oneself , have a great time.

    Probably coming from students' jargon in the early XXth century ( whales are very big).


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    English exercise "Idioms and animals" created by carlabice47 with The test builder. [More lessons & exercises from carlabice47]
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    1. The nurse at the hospital seemed to be a very calm, caring person, but we later found out that she was a .

    2. When John came home at 3:30 a.m., he gave his wife some about having a late meeting at the office.

    3. Thank God, the foreign nation's threat to Europe soon revealed to be a .

    4. Perry is a very clumsy guy: he moves like a .

    5. While in Las Vegas we had a visiting all the casinos.

    6. I've tried to pass the driving license test three times, I'm desperate, I think I'll pass it only when .

    7. The present from aunt Carolina is a . What shall I do with it ?

    8. Marion is so tired of present society's that she's thinking of going to live in a remote village of Wales.

    9. When Kazumi joined the meeting she felt like a as she was the only Japanese there.

    10. She never stops talking about the latest fashion - she's got a real about it.

    11. Tabloids are that publisher's biggest , earning over 40% of group profits.

    12. I doubt that Pauline will ever change her eating habits : a !

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