I’ll give you a quick run down of what the meat is called that comes from each animal first:

  • pig (animal) – bacon, pork, ham
  • cow (animal) – beef, steak
  • sheep (animal) – lamb, mutton
  • chicken (animal) – chicken.
  • fish (animal) – fish

meat and protein idioms

Are you ready to learn some idioms and expressions about the different types of meat we eat?

egg idioms

egg expressions

a bad egg

meaning – a naughty/bad person
example – Antony is a bad egg, he’s always in trouble with the law.

egg expressions - bad egg

a good egg

meaning – a good person
example – The world can be a miserable place. I’m glad we have good eggs like you in it.

egg idioms - good egg

a nest egg

meaning – a person’s savings for the future
example – Hopefully, I can retire at 50. I’ve already got a nice little nest egg.

egg expressions - nest egg

an egghead

meaning – an intellectual person
example – Brian is such an egghead. He gets full marks on every test.

egg idioms - egghead

egg on

meaning – encourage someone to do something
example – I didn’t want to put my hand in the spider’s cage, but my brother egged me on.

egg expressions - egg on

have egg on one’s face

meaning – look stupid or be embarrassed/humiliated
example – If you accuse him and he is innocent, you’ll end up with egg on your face.

egg expressions - have egg on one's face

walk on eggshells

meaning – be very cautious around someone and try not to upset them
example – Since my sister was diagnosed with diabetes, we’ve all been walking on eggshells.

egg idioms - walk on eggshells

you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs

meaning – you can’t achieve something without having bad effects
example – Everyone hates me now I’m the boss. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

egg expressions - you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs

fish idioms

a big fish in a small pond

meaning – someone who is important in a small area
example – Joe was a big fish in a small pond. When he went to uni, that all changed.

fish sayings - a big fish in a small pond

a red herring

meaning – a misleading clue
example – There are so many red herrings in the film. You will never guess who the murderer is.

fish idioms - red herring

clam up

meaning – suddenly become quiet and stop talking
example – Whenever I ask him if he’s being bullied, he just clams up.

fish sayings - different kettle of fish

drink like a fish

meaning – drink too much alcohol
example – I think Tara has a problem; she drinks like a fish.

fish sayings - drink like a fish

fish for compliments

meaning – try and elicit compliments from someone
example – Kirsty always fishes for compliments, she is so annoying.

fish expressions - fish for compliments

have bigger fish to fry

meaning – have more important/interesting things to do
example – I can’t help you look for a new bike. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

fish expressions - have bigger fish to fry

like a fish out of water

meaning – feel uncomfortable in a certain situation
example – I felt like a fish out of water at Oxford university, everyone was posh but I’m not.

fish expressions - like a fish out of water

packed in like sardines

meaning – lots of people or objects close together with little room
example – I went to a hen farm. It was horrible, all the chickens were packed in like sardines.

fish expressions - packed in like sardines

plenty more fish in the sea

meaning – when a relationship fails, there are more people to have relationships with
example – Everyone is telling me there’s plenty more fish in the sea, but I only want Hugh.

fish sayings - plenty more fish in the sea

smell fishy

meaning – seem suspicious
example – The car I want to buy is way too cheap, something smells fishy.

fish idioms - smell fishy

meat idioms

meat idioms

a spring chicken

meaning – a young person
example – Helen is still a spring chicken; she has plenty of time to have kids.

meat idioms - spring chicken

all sizzle and no steak

meaning – a person/thing that is disappointing/fails to measure up to the hype
example – The film was all sizzle and no steak, I fell asleep halfway through.

steak idioms - all sizzle and no steak

be a lamb

meaning – an endearing way to ask someone to do something for you
example – Can you be a lamb and drive me to work as it’s raining?

meat idioms - be a lamb

beef up/beef something up

meaning – become stronger/meatier/more powerful
example – I’m 500 words short for my assignment, I need to beef it up a bit.

meat idioms - beef up

bring home the bacon

meaning – work to earn money for the family
example – I stay at home and look after the kids while my wife brings home the bacon.

bacon idioms - bring home the bacon

chicken out

meaning – decide not to do something because you are afraid
example – The boy chickened out of throwing a pen at the teacher.

meat idioms - chicken out

go cold turkey

meaning – completely stop taking a substance
example – I’ve quit smoking. It was easy, I just went cold turkey.

meat idioms - go cold turkey

have beef with

meaning – have a problem with someone
example – I’m not using that hotel chain. I have beef with them.

beef idioms - have beef with

in two shakes of a lamb’s tail

meaning – in a very short time
example – I’ll be with you in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. I’ve got to send a couple of emails first.

meat idioms - in two shakes of a lamb’s tail

like a lamb to the slaughter

meaning – be calm and unaware of the danger to come
example – Four boys waited like lambs to the slaughter outside the headmaster’s office.

meat idioms - like a lamb to the slaughter

make mincemeat out of someone/something

meaning – thoroughly defeat
example – Jeffreys made mincemeat out of Saunders in the ring.

meat idioms - make mincemeat out of someone

mutton dressed as lamb

meaning – an older woman who dresses in clothes that suit a much younger woman
example – My mum is mutton dressed as lamb; she should dress more appropriately.

meat idioms - mutton dressed as lamb

one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb

meaning – you will get the same punishment for a crime so may as well commit a bigger offence
example – I’ll borrow my sister’s shoes too; I might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

meat idioms - one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb

save someone’s bacon

meaning – rescue someone from a difficult situation
example – Thanks for lending me £50. You saved my bacon.

bacon idioms - save someone's bacon