Can You Complete These Common American Phrases?



By: Becky Stigall

5 Min Quiz

A day late and a ______ short.

The phrase is a day late and a dollar short. This means the same as too little, too late.


Out in left _____.

The expression is out in left field. It means you don't know what's going on.


Can't dance and it's too ___ to plow.

The expression is "can't dance and it's too wet to plow." This means you might as well do something, because there's nothing else to do.


Built like a Mack _____.

The expression is "built like a Mack truck." This means something is built solidly.


Put a ____ on a bullet wound.

The expression is "put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound." This means that what you're doing is not likely to solve the problem or keep it from getting worse.


Does a ____ duck swim in circles?

The expression is "does a one-legged duck swim in circles?." Since the answer is yes, the question is clearly redundant.


Caught with his ____ in the cookie jar.

The expression is "caught with his hand in the cookie jar." This means that he was caught in the act of doing something wrong.


Dog and pony ____.

The expression is "dog and pony show." This refers to something that is quite a display but that has no substance.


Go ___ a kite.

The expression is "go fly a kite." It's a not-so-nice way of saying "get lost."


Kick up your _____.

The expression is "kick up your heels." This means to go celebrate (probably with dancing).


Lower than a ______ belly in a wagon rut.

The expression is "lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut." Since this is clearly very low, the person to whom this refers is not to be trusted.


He doesn't have two _____ to rub together.

The expression is, "He doesn't have two dimes to rub together." This means he is poor. Pennies and nickels may be used in place of dimes, as well.


Beat around the ____.

The expression is "beat around the bush." This means to take one's time or avoid getting to the point.


That and _____ will buy you a cup of coffee.

The expression is "that and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee." That means that something is worthless.


Whole ____ of wax.

The expression is "whole ball of wax." This refers to everything.


More ____ for your buck.

The expression is "more bang for your buck." This means something is the best value or the best option.


Like taking _____ from a baby.

The expression is "like taking candy from a baby." This refers to something that is easy to do.


Like a ____ on a log.

The expression is "like a bump on a log." This means that you are doing nothing.


Fine as ____ hair.

The expression is "fine as frog hair." This is very fine indeed, since frogs don't have hair.


Different strokes for different _____.

The expression is "different strokes for different folks." This means "to each his own," or everybody does things differently.


Cooking with ___.

The expression is "cooking with gas." This means that you are moving along very efficiently.


Beat a ____ horse.

The expression is "beat a dead horse." It means that you are not going to get anywhere with your current tactic.


Get off your ____ horse.

The expression is "get off your high horse." This means that you are no better than anyone else.


Go to the ___.

The expression is "go to the mat." This refers to fighting until the end for something or someone.


Monday morning ___________.

The expression is "Monday morning quarterback." This is the same as saying "hindsight is better than foresight."


Paint yourself into a ______.

The expression is "paint yourself into a corner." This means that you have gotten yourself into a situation that it's going to be hard to get out of.


Slower than ________ going uphill in January.

The expression is "slower than molasses going uphill in January." This is clearly very slow.


The squeaky wheel gets the ___.

The expression is "the squeaky wheel gets the oil." This means that he who complains the loudest gets the attention.


Can't get _____ out of a turnip.

The expression is "can't get blood out of turnip." This means that you can't get something from someone that they don't have.


Wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot ____.

The expression is "wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole." This means that you wouldn't get involved under any circumstances.


Paddle your own _____.

This expression is "paddle your own canoe." This means to make your own decisions and do things for yourself.


Where the ______ meets the road.

The expression is "where the rubber meets the road." This means the moment of truth. Tire can also be used in place of rubber.


Can't have your cake and ____ it, too.

The expression is "can't have your cake and eat it, too." This means that you can't get everything you want.


Water under the ______.

The expression is "water under the bridge." This refers to something that is in the past.


Make a mountain out of a ________.

The expression is "make a mountain out of a molehill." This means to make a big deal out of nothing.


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About This Quiz

Do you remember having at least one relative that was fond of spouting colorful phrases? Take this quiz to see if you can complete the 35 phrases we've compiled here.

Have you ever seen pigs fly? Have you ever wondered what it would look like if hell froze over (fun fact: there actually is a Hell, Michigan, and it does get pretty cold there)? Have you ever wondered if it was wise to look a gift horse in the mouth? If you are familiar with these types of sayings, then you might know enough to take this quiz.

These types of phrases are quite confusing to people who are learning to speak English because they do not make any literal sense. But almost every country and language has its own set of unique sayings that make sense only to those who both speak the language and who have become familiar with these phrases. 

Some of these phrases make perfect sense, but others, such as "go fly a kite," are a bit more confusing. After all, flying a kite is fun, right? Unless you are familiar with the phrase, you might not understand that it means the speaker wants you to go away.

Let's get started with this quiz to find out how many of these common American phrases you can complete.

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