Top 20 Idioms for IELTS Speaking Success | Must-Know Tips Inside

Top 20 Idioms for IELTS Speaking: Improve Your Fluency and Score

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 Idioms for IELTS Speaking


In the realm of IELTS speaking, one of the most effective ways to elevate your language proficiency and impress examiners is by incorporating idiomatic expressions into your responses. Idioms not only add flair to your speech but also demonstrate a deep understanding of the English language. If you are also interested in learning idioms to increase your IELTS speaking band score, then read this blog till the end to know the most useful idioms for IELTS speaking.

What is An Idiom?

Idioms are figurative expressions in language that go beyond the literal meanings of individual words. They are frequently used in ordinary speech and writing and might be difficult for non-native speakers to understand. These expressions can be perplexing for non-native speakers because their interpretations are not straightforward; instead, they rely on shared cultural knowledge and context. Idioms are prevalent in everyday speech, literature, and even in standardised tests like the IELTS, where they demonstrate a deeper understanding of the language.

Best Idioms for IELTS Speaking Section

Now, below are some common idioms for IELTS speaking section, along with their meaning and usage. 


Idiom 1: Under the weather

Meaning: What does it mean? To feel ill

Example: In England, we love to talk about the weather and will do so often, but don’t be fooled by this common phrase. If someone says they’re feeling under the weather, your response should be ‘I hope you feel better!’, not ‘Would you like to borrow my umbrella?’.


Idiom 2: The ball is in your court

Meaning: It’s up to you

Example: It’s your move now, but this idiom refers to life rather than a sport. If you’ve got the ‘ball,’ the decision is yours, and someone is waiting for your decision.


Idiom 3: Spill the beans

Meaning: To give away a secret

Example: If you told someone about their own surprise party, you’d have ‘spilled the beans’ or even ‘let the cat out of the bag’. The secret is out.


Idiom 4: Break a leg

Meaning: To wish someone luck

Example: This idiom is not at all threatening. Often accompanied by a thumbs up, ‘Break a leg! ’It’s an encouraging cheer of good luck. It originates from when successful theatre performers would bow so many times after a show that they would break a leg.


Idiom 5: Pull someone’s leg

Meaning: To play a practical joke

Example: This is the perfect phrase to learn if you’re a fan of practical jokes. ‘Pull their leg’ is similar to ‘wind someone up’. Use it in context: ‘Relax, I’m just pulling your leg!’ or ‘Wait, are you pulling my leg?’


Idiom 6: Sat on the fence

Meaning: To be undecided

Example: If you’re sat on the fence, you’ve not decided which side of an argument you agree with. ‘I’m sitting on the fence about hot yoga classes’ translates as ‘I’m not sure whether I enjoy yoga in a sauna yet.’


Idiom 7: Through thick and thin

Meaning: To be loyal no matter what

Example: Often used to describe families or BFFs, ‘through thick and thin’ means that you’re by each other’s side no matter what happens, through the bad times as well as the good.


Idiom 8: Once in a blue moon

Meaning: Rarely

Example: This charming phrase is used to describe something that doesn’t happen often. Example: ‘I remember to call my parents from my study abroad trip once in a blue moon.’


Idiom 9: It’s the best thing since sliced bread

Meaning: It’s really, really good

Example: Sliced bread must have revolutionised life in England because it’s been used as the ultimate benchmark for things that are great. We love it almost as much as tea.


Idiom 10: Take it with a pinch of salt 

Meaning: Don’t take it too seriously

Example: ‘I heard that elephants can fly now, but Sam often makes up stories, so I take everything he says with a pinch of salt.’


Idiom 11: Come rain or shine

Meaning: No matter what

Example: You guarantee to do something, regardless of the weather or any other situation that might arise. ‘I’ll be at your football game, come rain or shine’.


Idiom 12: Go down in flames

Meaning: To fail spectacularly

Example: This phrase is fairly obvious. ‘That exam went down in flame, I should have learned my English idioms.’


Idiom 13: You can say that again

Meaning: That’s true

Example: Generally exclaimed in agreement. When a friend says, ‘Ryan Reynolds is gorgeous!’ you can reply, ‘You can say that again!’


Idiom 14: See eye to eye

Meaning: To agree completely

Example: We’re not suggesting a staring contest – to see eye to eye with someone is to agree with the point they’re making.


Idiom 15: Jump on the bandwagon

Meaning: Following a trend

Example: When a person joins in with something popular or does something just because it’s cool. See this brunch-based example: ‘She doesn’t even like avocado on toast. She’s just jumping on the bandwagon.’


Idiom 16: As right as rain

Meaning: Perfect

Example: Another weather-based idiom, but this one is slightly trickier. We moan about the rain, but ‘right as rain’ is actually a positive comment. ‘I’m as right as rain!’ may be exclaimed with glee when asked if everything is okay, and it is.


Idiom 17: Beat around the bush

Meaning: Avoid saying something

Example: Beating around the bush is when you speak nonsense, avoiding a question because you don’t want to express your opinion or answer truthfully.


Idiom 18: Hit the sack

Meaning: Go to bed

Example: This idiom is super easy to learn to use. ‘I’m exhausted, it’s time for me to hit the sack!’


Idiom 19: Miss the boat

Meaning: It’s too late

Example: Use this when you let an opportunity or deadline pass by. ‘I forgot to apply for that study abroad program; now I’ve missed the boat.’


Idiom 20: By the skin of your teeth

Meaning: Just barely

Example: ‘Phew, I passed that exam by the skin of my teeth!’ Hopefully you’ll ace your exams, but if you only just pass, you can whip out this idiom.


Idioms hold significant importance in the IELTS speaking test as they showcase a candidate's depth of language proficiency. When a test taker employs idiomatic expressions effectively, it demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the English language beyond just basic vocabulary and grammar. Examiners appreciate this, and it can contribute to a higher band score. Therefore, it is recommended to learn the idioms for your IELTS speaking test. 

So, if you are appearing for the IELTS exam and want to plan your test strategically, then we recommend you sign up for our IELTS Courses designed by our experts. If you need further guidance, please contact Prepare IELTS (PI) expert counsellors. Our team of education experts is dedicated to assisting you in the best possible way for the IELTS exam. You can also get a one-on-one counselling session online via our platform. Contact us at or call us at +91 9773398388.


Everybody describes things differently. Some languages and cultures have a series of phrases with specific meanings. Idioms and phrasal verbs are frequent in English as well. The use of idiomatic language is also tested as part of the IELTS speaking test. It is proposed that the candidate use less prevalent idioms and terminology, as well as emphasise knowledge of style and collocation.

Idioms can add weight to a candidate's discourse with the examiner. By using more relevant idioms during the IELTS speaking and writing tests, the applicant can boost their lexical resource, enhancing their chances of improving their band score and performing well on test day.

Idioms may be used in IELTS academic writing; however, common idioms used in IELTS speaking should be avoided. It is preferable to utilise informal and appropriate expressions. Using idioms needlessly will result in a low IELTS score.


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