Can You Get a Perfect Score on This Common Phrases Quiz?


By: Monica Lee

6 Min Quiz

Image: PeopleImages/DigitalVision/Getty Images

About This Quiz

To help people understand a story or information, common phrases and idioms are oftentimes used to provide more emphasis or insight. For example, if you were stating that your friend was exhausted after running a marathon, you might say, "stick a fork in him, he's done," to underscore his exhaustion. 

These phrases, sayings and idioms are so common that many of us don't even realize we're using them. And they spring from many different situations in everyday life, including many related to sports, food, animals and weather, to name a few. But it's not brain surgery to understand them. 

From boxing, you get the idiom "throwing in the towel," which means to give up or surrender. From farmers purchasing horses and livestock, you get the saying "long in the tooth" to convey old age, because horses' teeth grow with age.  Whether these common phrases came from daily life or early writings in France, England or elsewhere, they are now part of today's vernacular. 

If you're someone who picks up phrases quickly and easily, you'll score big on this quiz. In fact, we bet you'll get a perfect score. Sure, it may be easy, but that doesn't mean you should look a gift horse in the mouth. Take it now and challenge yourself to a quiz that's easy as pie. 

"Open a can of _______." What should go in the blank?

If you open a can of worms, you're bringing into a conversation or situation different issues that are troublesome and complicated. Nothing to do with fishing!


"The ________ before the storm." What word should be in the blank?

"The calm before the storm" means a peaceful period of time before things get busier or more difficult. In weather, there usually is a lull in the wind before a storm hits.


"Two ________ in a _______." What should be in the blanks?

"Two peas in a pod" means that two people are very much alike. It seems like they must have grown up together with the same experiences.


If you have a "chip on your shoulder," what does that mean?

Someone who has a chip on his or her shoulder is angry about something that happened in the past and won't let the feeling go. That person is holding a grudge.


What does "a dime a dozen" mean?

When something is extremely common or simple to acquire you can use the phrase, "a dime a dozen" to convey the same meaning. Not even penny candy is that cheap.


"A _____ and his _____ are soon parted." What words are missing?

"A fool and his money are soon parted" means that someone who is foolish with their money can easily lose it due to carelessness or believing bad investment advice. Don't get scammed.


When you say something is or was "a piece of cake," what are you saying?

If it's "a piece of cake," the task is or was easy to accomplish. This phrase is similar to "as easy as pie."


What's a "rainmaker"?

There is more than one meaning for "rainmaker." Both cause a type of riches, as farmers need water to grow crops and corporations need money to grow dividends.


"An ________ and a _______." What should be in the blanks?

If it costs you "an arm and a leg," it means whatever you are describing is either very expensive or the price that has to be paid is costly in another way.


What is the meaning of "back to square one"?

It means going back to the beginning. It's a popular saying that means a person has to start over, similar to "back to the drawing board."


What other common saying means the same as "cut to the chase"?

"Cut to the chase" means that you need to get to the point of the conversation quickly and leave out the unnecessary details. It means the same thing as "stop beating around the bush."


What might be a similar meaning as the phrase, "between a rock and a hard place"?

"Between a rock and a hard place" means being faced with two difficult choices, or having a difficult decision. It can be used to describe a dilemma.


What does the common phrase "burst your bubble" mean?

"Bursting someone's bubble" means you are ruining someone's happy moment or mood. Generally you're telling them disappointing news or information.


Let's get into animal phrases! What does "sitting duck" mean?

When a person or thing has no protection against an attack or other source of danger, they are a sitting duck. This was originally a hunting term, used to convey how easy it is to shoot ducks when they are sitting on the water, compared with when they are in flight.


Curiosity killed what animal?

Have you heard the phrase, "Curiosity killed the cat; satisfaction brought him back"? The phrase is used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation.


What does it mean when someone says, "birds of a feather flock together"?

The saying means that people tend to associate with others who share similar views, interests and values. But be warned - that can lead a person to become close-minded and set in their ways.


"You can't teach an old dog new tricks." What does that mean?

It's challenging to teach an older person (dog) something new, usually because that person has been doing the same task for so long that learning something new is difficult. Or they don't see anything wrong with the old way and would rather keep the status quo.


"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." What does that mean?

Instead of looking for flaws in a gift, you should show appreciation. Don't be ungrateful.


If someone is "long in the tooth," what does that mean?

A horse's age can be determined by inspecting its teeth. Basically, the longer the teeth, the older the horse. Today, "long in the tooth" means old age. It is mainly used when referring to people or animals.


What does "crocodile tears" mean?

Crocodile tears (or superficial sympathy) is similar to fake tears of grief. While crocodiles do have tear ducts, they weep to lubricate their eyes when they have been out of water for a long time.


Which phrase means the same as "like shooting fish in a barrel"?

All of these answers are correct. They all mean that the task at hand is an easy one to accomplish.


If you describe a person as "happy as a clam at high tide," is the person happy?

Clams are most vulnerable when the tide is low because people can easily dig them up and eat them. In higher water, however, clams are difficult to find. Thus, the clam is happy at high tide because it has escaped being on the dinner menu!


Which phrase is the most similar to "I smell a rat"?

"I smell a rat" means something is suspicious or it is a stinky situation. Both A and B are correct.


Which phrase is most similar in meaning to "it's not rocket science"?

Both of the phrases mean something is easy, not complicated to accomplish, whereas both brain surgery and rocket science are indeed complicated. What about rocket surgery?


What does "in a pickle" mean?

If you're in a pickle, you're in an awkward situation or in a rough spot. Here's an example: Joey ordered a pizza but was in a pickle when he realized he didn't have any money to pay for it.


What does "the straw that broke the camel's back" mean?

A series of annoying occurrences eventually leads to one final thing that causes a person to lose their temper - that's the straw that breaks the camel's back. The ultimate reaction is out of proportion to the final small irritant itself.


"Throw in the _______." What word is missing from this common phrase?

The expression is "throw in the towel," and it means to quit the task before you complete it. It is believed to come from boxing, where the coach would literally throw a towel into the ring in order to signal that his fighter concedes.


"Don't _______ the ________ unless you can walk the walk." What word should be in both blanks?

This phrase implies that a person should back up their talking with action. Prove it by doing it, not just by talking about it.


Let's do a food phrase! What does "stick a fork in it" mean?

This phrase means that someone or something is exhausted or finished. "Stick a fork in him, he's done!"


"What am I, chopped liver?" What does this phrase mean?

This is the complaint of someone who feels their opinion is being given less consideration than somebody else's. As comedian Rodney Dangerfield would have said, "I get no respect."


If someone is "quitting cold turkey," what are they doing?

Quitting cold turkey involves stopping an unhealthy habit immediately, right then and there. There are no incremental steps involved.


What does it mean to "spill the beans"?

"Spilling the beans" refers to someone who makes private information known. Here is an example: Jane spilled the beans about where you hid the mint chocolate chip cookies.


What does it mean when someone tells you, "Don't cry over spilled milk"?

This phrase means it is rather pointless to worry about things that have already happened. You are not able to change the outcome, even if you cry.


If it's "not your cup of tea," what are you actually trying to convey?

If you don't like something, you might say, "it's not my cup of tea." For example: Pineapple on pizza is not my cup of tea.


"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." What does this saying mean?

If the circumstances of a situation are resulting in too much pressure for you to handle, you should probably leave. Otherwise, calm down!


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