Idioms that use parts of the body

As you already know, English is a very rich language. And very creative, if you ask me. For example, English has so many idioms with body parts, it’s hard to remember them all. But, as English learners, it’s our duty to try.:)

I thought we’d take a look at some of them which you can use from now on, on whenever you want to impress people with your language skills.

The Heart

  • learn something by heart = learn something completely, remember it

„I’ve learnt this by heart – I’m bound to pass the exam!”

  • hand on heart = promise with sincerity

„Hand on heart, it’s the honest truth.”

  • a heart of gold = be a very kind person

„She’ll always help – she has a heart of gold.”

  • have one’s heart set on something= really want something.

My son Tommy really has his heart set on that new bicycle. 

The Hands 

  • hand over = pass on something

„Before I leave, I have to hand over all my work.”

  • get out of hand = become impossible to manage

„You’ll have to deal with this problem before it gets out of hand.”

  • know something like the back of your hand = know something extremely well

„He knows London like the back of his hand.”

  • have your hands full = be very busy

„I can’t do anything about it now – my hands are full.”

  • give someone a hand = help someone

„He always gives me a hand with the housework.”

  • be caught red-handed = be caught doing something bad

„The children were caught red-handed picking the flowers.”

 The Fingers 

  • butter fingers = be clumsy and drop things

„You’ve dropped my vase! Butter fingers!”

  • keep your fingers crossed = wish something for someone

„Keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow – it’s my job interview.”

  • under your thumb = control someone

„She’s got him under her thumb – he won’t do anything without asking her first.”

The Arms 


  • twist someone’s arm = persuade someone

„I didn’t want to go out, but he twisted my arm.”

  • cost an arm and a leg = cost a fortune:

„The car cost an arm and a leg – it’ll take them ages to pay back the loan.” 

The Feet 

  • put your foot in it = say or do something you shouldn’t

„I think I’ve put my foot in it – I told her about the party.”

  • keep someone on their toes = keep someone alert

„Our teacher keeps us on our toes – we have to pay attention in class.”

  • walk on eggshells = be careful about what you say or do

„She’s in a terrible mood – you’ll have to walk on eggshells around her.”

The Back 

  • go behind someone’s back = do something secretly

„She went behind my back and told my boss I wanted a new job.”

  • back down = accept defeat

„He finally backed down and let me buy a pet rabbit.”

  • back someone up = support someone

„Thank you for backing me up in the meeting.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this idoms and found them useful!

Autor: Laura Sîrbu

Laura Sîrbu este absolventă a Facultăţii de Litere din cadrul Universităţii Bucureşti, specializarea Română – Engleză. Tot în cadrul Universităţii, ea a absolvit masteratul „Studii Americane”, organizat la Facultatea de Limbi şi Literaturi Străine.

Laura deţine autorizaţie de traducător pentru limba engleză şi atestatul lingvistic „Cambridge Proficiency Certificate.”