Animal Idioms

I started writing down a few things I hear all too often … that involves animals in our world of humans.

  • Canary in the coalmine
  • Elephant in the room
  • Monkey in the middle

So I decided to organize them with the ones I knew from above … for no good reason. And then I gave up because there’s a superior list on the Internet already :+).


  • Canary in the coalmine
  • Watch it like a hawk
  • Birds and the bees
  • Getting your ducks in a row
  • Chicken out
  • Kill two birds with one stone
  • A little bird told me
  • Which came first? The chicken or the egg?
  • Nest egg
  • Eagle eyes
  • Wild goose chase
  • Quitting cold turkey


  • Ants in my pants
  • Mad as a hornet
  • Birds and the bees (hybrid)
  • Wouldn’t hurt a fly
  • At a snail’s pace
  • Busy as a bee
  • Dropping like flies
  • Make a beeline
  • Opening a can of worms
  • Butterflies in my stomach

Marine Animals

  • Clam up
  • The world’s your oyster
  • A whale of a tale
  • Like a fish out of water
  • Fish or cut bait
  • That’s a red herring
  • Like shooting fish in a barrel
  • There’s something fishy


  • Cat nap
  • The cat’s meow
  • Copy cat
  • The cat’s got your tongue
  • Let the cat out of the bag
  • Kitty corner from your house


  • Going to the dogs
  • Let sleeping dogs lie
  • Dog days
  • All bark and no bite
  • Dog eat dog world
  • Puppy love
  • Can’t teach an old dog new tricks
  • In the dog house
  • Raining cats and dogs
  • You get the pick of the litter


  • Rat race
  • Smell a rat

Cow, Bull

  • Until the cows come home
  • Holy cow!
  • Have a cow
  • Take the bull by the horns
  • Like a bull in a china shop


  • Pig-headed
  • Pig out
  • They can be the guinea pig
  • Black sheep of the family
  • That really gets my goat
  • He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing


  • Hold your horses!
  • One trick pony
  • Straight from the horse’s mouth


  • Monkey in the middle
  • Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle
  • Monkey see, monkey do


  • The lion’s share

Forest Animals

  • Acting squirrely
  • It’s a bear market
  • Eager beaver
  • Weasel out of it


  • My pet peeve