Idioms for Friends – English Language Classes

belly laugh = to laugh hard from your abdomen 
conk out = to go to sleep
dude = idiomatic / slang greeting used when addressing someone
feel no pain = to have consumed a lot of alcohol or other drug and feeling very good 
hang five = to spend time relaxing
kick in the pants = a lot of fun
mellow out = to calm down relax
name your poison = to choose which type of drink / substance you would like
one for the road = a drink before leaving
party animal = someone who likes to consume a lot of alcohol or drugs
shoot the breeze = to speak have a relaxed conversation
speak of the devil = phrase used when someone appears shortly after s/he is mentioned
twiddle one’s thumbs = to waste time
veg out = to relax by doing nothing in particular watching TV or some other easy activity
wing it = to improvise do something by intuition rather than following a set plan

Party Animal Quiz
  1. I’m exhausted! I’m going upstairs to ______________ for a few hours.
  2. I’ve got vodka, gin and whiskey. _______________ and I’ll pour you a glass.
  3. My cousin Tom is a _______________. He never stops!
  4. Let’s go home and ___________ in front of the TV.
  5. Let’s have _________________ before we go home tonight. I’m buying!
  6. Bungee jumping is a real ___________________!
  7. What are you doing? – Nothing, I’m just _______________.
  8. I don’t know all the details. I’ll have to ____________ at the meeting. 
Answers to Quiz
  1. conk out
  2. name your poison
  3. party animal
  4. mellow out /veg out
  5. one for the road
  6. kick in the pants
  7. twiddling my thumbs / hanging five
  8. wing it

Idioms and Expressions in Context Stories
Party Animal
Three friends meet up after not having seen each other for a long time. It’s time for a party!
John’s Keys to Success
A story about a man was an accomplished businessman and happily gives advice to young people he mentors.

An Unpleasant Colleague
A story about a man who took himself a little too seriously and, as a result, was quite unpopular with his colleagues.
Odd Man Out
A story about a man who gossiped a little too much at parties making him the “odd man out” anytime he joined the fun.
Life of the Party
Bill was known as the life of the party for a good reason. Learn why he was asked to everyone’s party.
The Economy is Tough
Idioms appropriate for talking about the economy when it’s having difficulties. This story makes good discussion material in business English classes.
The Inventor’s Lesson
A story about a friend who invented a gadget that made him a millionaire. It’s the perfect story for engineers and those involved in business.
Young and Free
A short story about an what it takes to be successful in a small company. It’s good preparation for young adult English learners who are college age.
Advice from a Content Grandfather
Grandfather has some wise advice about how to lead a happy life. This is a good story for classes with older adult learners.
A Very Difficult Boss
Here is a story about a boss who makes the life of his employees difficult. This is a great story for classes that include lots of young professionals. They can complain and not get in trouble!
My Successful Friend
Here is a story about a man’s friend who has had a very successful career.
Missed Chance of a Lifetime My uncle made a huge mistake because of his big mouth. Learn more.
A Night on the Town
Here is a story about a friend who had a night on the town with his friend. Unfortunately, they overdid it and would up feeling pretty bad the next morning.
Wise Guy
This wise guy bothered everyone at the party.
The Road to Success
Here is a short essay on how to succeed in today’s difficult economic environment. It makes good reading for business English classes.
My Cousin Crazy Eddy
Crazy Eddy a businessperson with some success, who also knows how to defend himself and is not afraid of authority.
Will You Marry Me?
A story about a man who’s soon going to ask his loved one to marry him. It’s great for anyone who likes romance.
Licensing a Car
A man recounts the difficulties he had when licensing his car. This story includes many idioms used when speaking about dealing with agencies.
smooth sailing = an easy life with no problems
know which side one’s bread is buttered on = to understand what is most important for oneself
ride the gravy train = to make money by doing something that is already proven to be successful
keep one’s eye on the ball = to concentrate and continue doing well
mana from heaven = surprise riches
from rags to riches = from poor to rich
show someone the ropes = to explain and show by example how something is done properly
as busy as a bee = very busy (also busy as a beaver)
work out for the best = to end with the best possible result
quick on the uptake = to understand very quickly
have the presence of mind to do something = to be aware and able to grasp an opportunity
show one’s hand = to show others what advantages you have in a situation
put on one’s thinking cap = to concentrate
spread oneself too thin = to do too many things
have too many irons in the fire = to do too many things
Idioms Quiz
  1. My friend is as ________________ these days. He never gets time to relax.
  2. We’ve been lucky in life. It’s been _____________ since the very beginning. 
  3. I’m sure the situation will improve. It will _________________.
  4. You need to ____________________ for this problem. It requires a lot of concentration.
  5. Alan ___________________ during the negotiations for the business deal.
  6. Franklin went from ________________ in his life. He started with nothing and ended up a very rich person.
  7. Some artists are lucky and have a huge hit early in life. Then they ______________________ for many years afterwards.
  8. My boss _________ me ______________ at work because it was my first week.
Quiz Answers
  1. busy as a bee
  2. smooth sailing
  3. work out for the best
  4. put on your thinking cap
  5. showed his hand
  6. rags to riches
  7. ride the gravy train
  8. showed me the ropes