Can You Complete All of These Common Phrases?

Olivia Seitz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you know what it means to "shoot from the hip"? Have you ever heard someone say, "I cut the cheese," when no cheese was around? Maybe someone told you to eat a "humble pie," but that didn't sound very tasty. These funny phrases are called idioms: words and phrases that have a culturally established meaning that is different from the literal meaning of the words. These phrases can often sound really silly, such as, "raining cats and dogs," which actually means it's raining really hard. Unless you know all of these idioms, you are going to hear some really hilarious sentences that don't make sense at all!

Some of the more bizarre idioms are rooted in history, such as "under the weather." In some cases, historians have no idea how they came into play! "Bob's your uncle" and "cat got your tongue" are both hilariously strange phrases that people use every day, with no truly logical reason to do so. Nonetheless, knowing these funky phrases will make your whole life make much more sense.

So, do you know all of your funny phrases and silly idioms? This quiz will challenge your knowledge of very common and very nonsensical phrases in 15 questions. Break a leg!

"It's raining _______!"

This idiom means it's raining really hard. The phrase is so old that we're not sure where it came from - one theory is that it came from an obsolete word, "catadupe," which meant "waterfall."

Asking for help when it's not needed is called "crying _______."

To "cry wolf" comes from an old children's tale, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." In it, the shepherd boy loses sheep because he "cried wolf" so many times that villagers stopped taking his alarm seriously.

Insincere or manipulative displays of emotion are called "_______ tears."

Someone overly dramatic who uses emotions to manipulate people might be accused of crying "crocodile tears." Ancient people believed that crocodiles wept during their meals -- perhaps to lure more victims.

He got an answer "straight from the _______'s mouth."

To get the truth "straight from the horse's mouth," you have to talk to a first-hand witness. The phrase originated from buying and selling horses; you could verify a horse's age, for example, by examining its teeth.

He "left no _______ unturned" in the investigation.

To 'leave no stone unturned' is to be extremely careful and thorough while researching something. The phrase is often used to describe a criminal investigation, a research project, or a search for a lost item.

"Shape up, or _______ out!"

The phrase "shape up or ship out" means that someone needs to perform better or leave. It originated in American military forces when soldiers or sailors were underperforming.

"Let the _______ fall where they may."

This fun idiom from poker means that you have to let things happen, and then react accordingly. Sometimes, there's just nothing more you can do.

Something rare only happens "once in a _______ moon."

Occasionally, there will be two full moons in one calendar month; in modern times, this phenomenon has been dubbed a "blue moon." In addition, the moon sometimes takes on a blue appearance when enough ash particles are in the atmosphere, such as when the volcano known as Krakatoa exploded.

Someone who's having a tough time needs to "hang in _______."

"Hang in there" is a phrase commonly used to comfort someone who's having a rough time. A popular theory points to a widely circulated photograph of a kitting hanging from a silk rope as the culprit for the now-popular phrase.

Someone who makes quick, possibly underinformed decisions is said to "_______ from the hip."

The phrase comes from the wild days when men whipped out pistols from their holsters and fired at hip level. Now, it refers to someone who makes snap decisions and says things without always thinking them through.

I'm so tired that I'm "running on _______."

When a car's gas tank gets low, the only thing keeping it running are the leftover fumes from the gas. This led to the expression "running on fumes," which is often used when someone just can't keep going without sleep and/or food. A similar expression is "running on empty."

The morning after prom, the store was operating with a "_______ crew."

Alas, this exciting phrase has nothing to do with graveyards or the walking dead: instead, it refers to the premise that a person's skeleton is the bare minimum for maintaining a human-looking appearance.

Someone who hasn't chosen a side is "on the _______."

In this idiom, the fence is an imaginary dividing line between one decision or another, and the indecisive person is straddling the divider - in other words, "on the fence."

Someone who failed to seize an opportunity has "missed the _______."

Missing the boat (arriving too late to board the vehicle headed the way you wanted to go) was a sorry thing indeed - so sorry, in fact, that it became an idiom for missing an opportunity.

I don't care either way, since I "don't have a horse in this _______."

If you "don't have a horse in the race," then you don't have anything staked on the outcome of a certain event. This idiom clearly came from the practice of betting on horse races.

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