Ever been asked if the cat’s got your tongue? Been told to let your hair down? The strange sayings of the English language can be confusing to get your head around. This isn’t helped by the fact that these expressions appear to make no sense whatsoever.


To save you from ending up dazed and confused by the strange sayings that might crop up with a native speaker, it could be a good idea to read through some of these phrases and their meanings.


Here’s a list of bizarre English phrases and their meanings, so you can make more sense of what Brits are really talking about.


A piece of cake

Something that is very easy.

E.g. “That exam was a piece of cake!”


Break a leg!

To wish someone good luck.

E.g. “Break a leg in your performance tonight.”


Raining cats and dogs

When it is raining very hard.

E.g. “Grab an umbrella – it’s raining cats and dogs out there!”


Skeleton in the closet

A hidden secret.

E.g. “You can’t trust politicians, they all have skeletons in their closet.”


Taking the Mickey

Making fun of someone.

E.g. “He was taking the Mickey out of his friend.”


Bob’s your uncle

To complete something easily.

E.g. “Add two cups of water, heat for five minutes and Bob’s your uncle, the soup is ready.”


Mad as a hatter

When someone acts crazy.

E.g. “Your uncle George is mad as a hatter!”


Getting your knickers in a twist

To get annoyed or flustered.

E.g. “Calm down, stop getting your knickers in a twist.”


In a nutshell

To summarise something.

E.g. “I had a great time at the party. In a nutshell, it went really well.”


Kick the bucket

When someone dies.

E.g. “We’ll all kick the bucket some day!”


Let your hair down

To be at ease and relax.

E.g. “It was nice to let my hair down at the weekend.”


Cat got your tongue       

When someone has nothing to say.

E.g. “What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?”


The next time someone surprises you with a strange phrase, refer back to this list and see if it can help you out. If you’re interested in learning more British phrases and slang, check out our previous blog post on Cockney rhyming slang.