Interesting English Idioms | Everyday Phrases to describe how you FEEL

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Idioms are fantastic parts of language! They are so expressive! Learning these English idioms will help you to understand more native English speakers and help your English sound more interesting and fun! Choose a few of these idioms that you *LOVE* and think about how you can use them to tell stories or share experiences.

And I’m covering a whole range of emotions in this English lesson!
happiness x 3 idioms
sadness x 3 idioms
fear x 3 idioms
disgust x 3 idioms
anger x 3 idioms
surprise x 3 idioms

Emotions are expressed in a range. You can be mildly happy about getting a day off work, or extremely happy about winning the lottery. These idioms are useful to express the degree of emotion. Learning them will help you express the emotional side of English – what you really feel!

So buckle up! Today’s lesson is going to be an emotional rollercoaster (ooohhhh that was a *bonus* idiom that I’ve added to the workbook!).

Video Transcript
Section 1
Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish and today we are gonna be going over eighteen everyday conversational idioms that will help you to describe feelings and emotions. These are really useful idioms, ones that I use all the time to describe

  • sadness
  • happiness
  • fear
  • disgust
  • anger
  • surprise

So that’s six different emotions and for each one, there’s gonna be three idioms.

Now I’ve got a really fun and great little challenge for you at the end so make sure you stick with me all the way through. It’s gonna be an emotional roller coaster. Have you heard that idiom before? It’s a bonus one. I’ve added the meaning to it on the worksheet that I’ve created for you. The link is down in the description.

I’ve got all of the idioms that we’re going over today with the meaning and some examples to help you know when and how to use them. Plus there’s a little mini quiz to help you put everything that you learn into practice.

Are you ready to get into it? Let’s go!

Happy, sad, angry.

These are all really common adjectives that we can use to talk about our feelings in English but so common that they can sort of feel a little dull especially if they’re the only adjectives that you use to talk about these feelings.

But to be totally honest, these words actually describe a really wide range of emotions because we can say: I’m really happy that I get to finish work early tonight or I’m really happy I just won a trip to Italy.

The idioms that we’re going to go through in this lesson will help you talk about that range of emotions but also help to make your English more interesting, more fun, more meaningful.

Thanks very much. Bye!
Oh my gosh, I just got the promotion at work.
Emma, that’s fantastic!
You must be over the moon!

over the moon

Over the moon is when you are really pleased about something. You’re ecstatic.

If you just won a trip to Italy, you would be over the moon.

as happy as Larry

  • How was your meeting?
    It was great! They gave me the time off so I’m happy as Larry.

Now this one is quite an Australian expression actually, I think, unless anyone’s going to jump in and say that they use it too but I really love this expression, happy as Larry. It’s kind of got that rhyming pattern in it.

To be honest, we don’t really know who Larry is but we all generally agree that he’s a really happy guy so we all want to be as happy as Larry.

You can use it anytime you’re feeling happy not crazy, crazy happy, not ecstatic but just right there in the middle.

  • There’s a public holiday coming up and I’m going away with my friends so I’m as happy as Larry.

a happy camper

  • I had no idea that I’d enjoy my new job so much. I’m a very happy camper.

So this one is kind of similar to ‘happy as Larry’, a happy camper indicates that you’re really content, really satisfied rather than extremely happy but interestingly, ‘happy camper’ is often used in the negative form as well.

So for example:

  • When the company reshuffled the organisation, the team were not happy campers. They were unhappy.

But it’s really important to note that this is an exception. ‘A happy camper’ can be used in the negative, we wouldn’t use the negative form with ‘over the moon’ or ‘happy as Larry’. We wouldn’t say I’m not as happy as Larry. For some reason. I don’t know why.

So remember if you want to use an idiom to describe happiness you can say:

  • over the moon
  • happy as Larry
  • or that you’re a happy camper

Okay let’s talk about some idioms for sadness. And again, sadness can move from feeling a little down about your day to downright awful, you know feeling like life is super hard, something dramatic has happened, something awful has happened so there’s some really big extremes here. We’ve got to be careful about how we use these idioms.

a heavy heart

And our first one is a heavy heart.

  • With a heavy heart, he spoke at his father’s funeral.

Have you ever had that feeling where it seems like there’s something heavy on your chest, maybe it’s hard to breathe or just your heart feels heavy and that’s this feeling that comes through in this idiom.

It’s a terrible feeling to experience and definitely on the more extreme side of sadness. Let’s see if we can lift the mood a little.

down in the dumps

  • They thought they were buying their dream house but another couple offered more for it. They’ve both been feeling down in the dumps all week.

They’re really sad, they’re really disappointed.


  • I’m a bit bummed by missing my best friend’s birthday.

So this just means that you’re low on energy, a little disappointed, a bit sad so it’s not as bad as down in the dumps and this one is definitely not as extreme as a heavy heart, right? So it’s really not appropriate to say:

  • He’s a bit bummed because his friend died, right?

That would sound really insensitive. And similarly, it seems a little over the top to say:

  • It’s with a heavy heart that I tell you, I can’t come to your birthday.

It’s quite dramatic so just be wary of how and when it’s appropriate to use these idioms.

Now our next emotion is fear and again fear is felt in a range. There’s anxious and nervous right through to utter terror. I really hope that you haven’t felt utter terror too often in life.

scare the living daylights out of

Sometimes that can scare the living daylights out of you so this idiom describes a terrifying feeling, it’s right at the top of our scale. You know when it’s 3am in the morning and the phone rings randomly?

Something must be wrong. You get worried, terrified.

  • When my brother called me at 3am, it scared the living daylights out of me.

jumped out of my skin

‘I jumped out of my skin’ is a little less severe. Maybe you’ve just walked into a room and a sibling or a friend is jumped out from behind a wall to scare you, right? You get such a fright.

  • I nearly jumped out of my skin.

the heebie jeebies

I quite like this next idiom too, it’s used to describe a feeling of unease or discomfort, nervousness. That sound gives me the heebie jeebies. Say it, it’s fun to say, heebie jeebies.

You know when all the hairs on your arms prickle and they stand up on end, that’s the heebie jeebies. So to talk about fear we have:

  • It scared the living daylights out of me
  • I jumped out of my skin
  • I got the heebie jeebies

So our next set of idioms are about the feeling of disgust, a really strong feeling of revulsion and disapproval. And our first disgusting idiom is to make you want to vomit.

(to) make (one) want to vomit

So this is really gross, right? It is so disgusting, whatever this thing is, is so disgusting it makes you want to be sick, to throw up, to vomit. The smell was so foul it made me want to vomit. Okay, that’s not really a great image so let’s move along.

Actually, this next one is not much better, it’s just not quite as graphic.

(to) make (one’s) stomach turn

Something can make your stomach turn. I can’t watch those medical shows that show you close-ups of knee and hip surgeries in the middle of an operation.

  • They make my stomach turn.

The thought of it sends you these feelings that your stomach sort of is twisting and turning and upside down and you feel a little ill. No thank you. I don’t like that one either. Not quite as graphic as the last one but still not a pleasant feeling.

(to) make (one’s) skin crawl

Okay to make your skin crawl. This one would also fit into the fear category I think because it’s that similar, uneasy uncomfortable feeling that you get.

  • I remember watching a documentary on Netflix last year when they showed the picture of a serial killer and honestly he looked so scary, he made my skin crawl.

If you have a phobia of insects or leeches like me, spiders and bugs and things, they might make your skin crawl. The thought of spiders and snakes makes your skin crawl.

All right let’s leave disgust behind and move on to the next emotion anger.

  • My neighbour had just got a new car, he pulled up onto the street out the front of our house and then got out to admire it and out of nowhere someone hit the back of the car. Oh my gosh, he flew off the handle.

(to) fly off the handle

So this expression is used to describe someone who’s really angry. If anyone is in this state, it’s best to stay out of their way right?

  • He flew off the handle when someone rammed into his car.

Now keep in mind, it’s not he flew off his handle, flew off the handle, okay?

(to) be up in arms

To be ‘up in arms about something’ it also describes feeling really angry but it’s less aggressive than to ‘fly off the handle’. Sounds less aggressive, right?

You think about throwing your arms up in the air, we do this when we’re frustrated, we’re annoyed about something, we’re irritated.

So there’s a difference, right? ‘Flying off the handle’ is really angry but we can say she was up in arms about how messy the shared kitchen was.

(to) be at the end of (one’s) tether

And lastly, I’m at the end of my tether. If you’ve got young kids then this could be a really useful idiom for you.

Imagine that moment when your kids have been really naughty, really disobedient all day. You’ve been asking them to tidy their room, clean up all their toys all afternoon and they’re not doing it and you keep hearing them yelling and screaming. It’s driving you nuts, right? And then A ball breaks through the kitchen window. And you yell at them.

  • I’m at the end of my tether with you!

meaning you’ve pushed me to my limit. I’m at the end of my ability to be patient with you, I’ve had enough.

Cool so now you’ve got three idioms to use if someone is driving you crazy.

Another idiom or maybe someone is making you really angry or annoyed or even if you’re thinking about describing a situation where you felt that way, use these idioms to add flavour and colour to the way that you’re describing that situation.

Couldn’t you believe that? I had to do a double-take there. We’ve already been through fifteen idioms together. Time flies when you’re having fun. Before we get into our last emotion, let me know what you think about this video. Are you enjoying it?

Hit that subscribe button, give it a like, all of these things help me to know what lessons you really want to see here at mmmEnglish.

That came out of the blue. I hope it didn’t stop you dead in your tracks. I’ve already used all three idioms that I’m going to go through now. I wonder if you picked up on any of them?

do a double-take

To do a double-take is to look again at something really quickly like you see it and then you go back to normal and then you suddenly think oh my gosh what was that?

It’s surprise, right? It’s caught you by surprise and we often use it with the verb do. I did a double-take. I couldn’t believe it and when something comes at you from out of the blue it’s like it came from nowhere, it was completely unexpected.

out of the blue

  • They got married just a few weeks after meeting, it was completely out of the blue.

Now this one is almost quite literal, it’s when you suddenly stop moving because you’re so surprised by something.

stop dead in your tracks

  • She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Maria. She hadn’t seen her in over twenty years.

So all of these idioms helped to express shock or surprise in some way. They’re really great to add to stories and to make your English more interesting and exciting, right?

  • I stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn’t believe it was her. It came out of the blue.

Okay, so we’ve been through all of those different idioms. Now I’ve got a little challenge for you to help you put into practice what you’ve been learning so get your fingers ready to type. I want you to share a little story with me down in the comments.

Take me on an emotional roller coaster. Tell me a story, maybe one that you’ve experienced, maybe it’s a fictional one that you make up but tell me a story where the emotions go up, go down, go up and go down and try to use one of the idioms from each section of this video.

And don’t forget to download the free workbook that I’ve created for you, it’s got all of the idioms from this lesson, their meanings, example sentences as well as a bonus little quiz to help you test what you learned.

I’m super excited about my next video coming out on the mmmEnglish Channel. I hope to see you in there. Bye for now!

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