English idioms in songs

English idioms in songs

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If you are learning English, we are sure that you listen to some songs in English. They can be English or American songs, but we are almost sure that when you sang one of those songs, you ran into some English idioms.

In this article, we will talk about some English idioms or English expressions that were used in some songs in English and we will discover the origins about those idioms so that you will be able not only to sing those songs but also to understand what they say!

Wildest dreams

“Say you’ll see me again even if it’s just in your wildest dreams

This English idiom was used by Taylor Swift in her song called “Wildest dreams”. What does it mean? This English expression refers to a thought that you might have; it is your thought about the best or the worst thing that could happen. The “wildest dream” is all the things that one has ever imagined or hoped for. This idiom appeared for the first time in 1717. The word “wild” is used as “enthusiastic, excited, unstrained”. There are also other English idioms that are generated by this one. An example can be “Beyond your (or one’s) wildest dreams”.This English idiom is used when you want to say that something is even better than you imagined!

Get down on it

“Tell me, what you gonna do? Do you wanna get down? Get down on it!

This English idiom was used by Kool & The Gang in the song “Get Down on It”. Did you ever ask yourself what that means while you were boogieing to this song? Well, you will finally discover the meaning of this English expression now!

We can say that depending on the context, the phrasal verb “to get down on” can mean different things. In this context, the meaning is “to dance”, “to enjoy yourself at a party”, “to get groovy”, “ to move funky to the music”.

Poker face

“Can’t read my, can’t read my

No, he can’t read my poker face

This English idiom was used in the popular Lady Gaga hit “Poker face”. A “poker face” is an expression on someone’s face that does not show what they are thinking or feeling. Of course, this English expression comes from the card game poker. In poker, all of the players have a hand of cards and they have to keep the value of his or her hand secret. For this reason, poker players try to keep their faces completely blank, so that no one can tell whether their cards are good or bad.

Bite my tongue + hold my breath

“I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath

How many memories does this song invoke! Do you know the meaning of all the English idioms and of all the English expressions that it mentions? We are sure you don’t!

We are going to discover those first two English idioms’ meaning used in Katy Perry’s song “Roar”. The first English idiom is “to bite (one’s) tongue”. To bite one’s tongue means to hold back from speaking, to refrain from saying something that could hurt or annoy the listener, saying something unpleasant. If you actually bite your tongue, you won’t be able to speak. This English expression seems to encourage the speaker to punish his tongue for saying something that he/she might regret. Let’s see the hidden meaning of the English expression “to hold (one’s) breath”. If you say that you are holding your breath, you want to say that you are waiting anxiously or excitedly for something to happen. This English idiom’s origins are not clear. By the way, from this English idiom, another one derived, that is “don’t hold your breath”: if you use it, you are suggesting to someone to not hold his breath while waiting for an event, because he would die before it happens.

A blessing in disguise

“Fighting shadows, in a game that you can’t win
Losing battles and no wonder your skin
Is just a blessing in disguise
Without darkness there is no light”

This idiom is used in several songs; it is also mentioned in Tori Kelly’s song “Something beautiful”. This idiom refers to an unfortunate event that later leads to an advantageous situation. The origin of this idiom is not clear; we know that it was used for the first time in 1746 by an English writer.

Not the sharpest tool in the shed

“Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me

I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed

This English idiom is used by Smash Mouth in the song “All Star”. We are pretty sure that you know this one by heart! But did you ever notice this English expression? Well, the meaning hidden behind the expression “not the sharpest tool in the shed” is “stupid, someone who is thought to be unintelligent”. But why? The origin of this English expression is this one: sheds are common structures found in backyards of many homes, used mainly for storage purposes. People often store their tools in sheds, both sharp and blunt tools. It must be highlighted that “sharp” is an expression that refers to intelligent, while “dull” to unintelligent. The origin of this expression is quite recent: in fact, it seems that this English expression was used for the first time in 1994.

To sweep someone off of (one’s) feet

“When your legs don’t work like they used to before

And I can’t sweep you off of your feet

How many times did you listen to this song or did you dance to it with your beloved one? Have you ever asked what its meaning is? In that case, we will now see the meaning of the English idiom “to sweep someone off of (one’s) feet”. This English expression was used in Ed Sheeran’s song “Thinking Out Loud”. This English idiom means that if someone sweeps you off of your feet, you fall in love with them very quickly because you find them very attractive or exciting. If someone sweeps you off of your feet, you immediately and completely fall in love with him/her.

Nothing but net

“Make it all black in one loop,
Never mind, I got the juice
Nothing but net when we shoot
Look at my neck, look at my jet”

This English expression was used in Ariana Grande’s song “7 rings”. What does that mean? This English idiom is super recent: it seems that it was used for the first time in the last decade; it is used among young people. In basketball, this term implies that a player shoots the ball and gets the basketball inside the rim without touching the rim with the ball. As you can see, using this English idiom Ariana wants to highlight that she is successful.

To be bound together

We were victims of the night
The chemical, physical, kryptonite
Helpless to the bass and fading light
Oh we were bound to get together

This English expression refers to something that is bound to be together, which means something that is connected, that it’s meant to be.

Eye of the tiger

“It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight

Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival”

We bet you know the song “Eye of the tiger” by Survivors! Do you know the meaning of this English expression? When you say that someone has the “eye of the tiger”, you are talking about someone who is focused and confident. This English expression refers to the fierceness of the tiger. In the wild, seeing the “eye” of the tiger means death, it means that the tiger will attack immediately. This English idiom became popular thanks to that song, which was used in the Rocky III soundtrack. When you have the eye of the tiger, you believe that you can and that just like the tiger you will! We hope that you will learn those English idioms and those English expressions! We hope that you will continue studying so that nobody will be able to say that you are not the sharpest tool in the shed!

If you want to keep on studying English expressions and idioms, we would recommend you to take a glance at the courses that we created for you on VocApp. With VocApp, you can create an account that gives you access to professional language courses to learn English in a fun and effective way. If you want to learn more expressions or idioms in English, you can have a look at the English idioms course and at Learn phrasal verbs and idioms with songs flashcards. Good luck!

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