Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with P

prick ears up

prick ears up

also prick up ears

Meaning

  • listen carefully
  • begin to listen attentively
  • become very alert and start listening
  • start to listen with full attention

Example Sentences

  1. She pricked up her ears when she heard her name being mentioned by the group chatting animatedly at the corner.
  2. His ears pricked up when he heard the word “incentive” during the otherwise boring all employees’ meet.
  3. He pricked up his ears when he overheard a juicy bit of gossip being discussed at the office lobby.
  4. He pricked up his ears when he heard that they were going away for a vacation to a place he had always wanted to go to.
  5. An interesting piece of news always gets everyone to prick their ears up and listen carefully.
  6. Jeff pricked his ears up when he heard his wife’s name being mentioned.
  7. Everyone pricked up their ears when the announcement about the new policy came in.

Origin

The phrase alludes to the ability of some animals like dogs and horses to lift their ears in order to hear more clearly. It has been in use since the 1500s-1600s. An early reference is found in Francis Bacon’s Essays – On Fame in 1626.

pig in a poke

pig in a poke

Meaning

  • something that is bought without examining properly
  • an offer or deal that is accepted without properly evaluating it first
  • buying something without looking at it

Example Sentences

  1. If you buy a used car without examining it thoroughly first, you might end up buying a pig in a poke.
  2. Though online shopping has gained huge popularity, it can sometimes be something of a pig in a poke, as you cannot see what really you are buying.
  3. Instead of trusting your agent and ending up buying a pig in a poke, why don’t you go and have a look at it first?
  4. I am afraid if I accept that offer, I might end up with a pig in a poke.
  5. I am not closing that deal until I have all the details of what they are offering. I don’t want to end up having got a pig in a poke.
  6. The package I bought turned out to a pig in a poke.

Origin

The phrase is quite an ancient one and has been used in the literal sense. A poke is a sack or a bag. The idiom implies that if a a pig is bought when it is in a poke, or bag, the customer might be cheated. Written citations of the phrase have been found since the mid 1500s.

pedal to the metal

pedal to the metal

Meaning

  • do something at full speed
  • push something forward as fast and as hard as possible
  • put in maximum effort to do something
  • make something go forward as fast as you can

Example Sentences

  1. I need to submit this assignment in two days’ time. I have to put pedal to the metal else I will miss the deadline.
  2. We are running behind schedule. Unless we put pedal to the metal we won’t be able to submit the proposal on time.
  3. Let’s put pedal to the metal and finish this job fast, then we can plan for our next step.
  4. You are running late. You are going to miss the plane unless you put pedal to the metal.
  5. We hardly have time left for the event. We have to put pedal to the metal and make sure all the arrangements are in place.
  6. When he realized that he would not be able to finish the work in time if he continued at the same pace, he put pedal to the metal and completed it a day early.

Origin

The phrase originated during the 1950s when the floorboards of cars were made of metal. Drivers, especially racers, would press the accelerator all the way down to touch the floorboards to make the cars go as fast as possible.

pop the question

pop the question

Meaning

  • propose marriage to someone
  • to ask your romantic partner to marry you
  • ask someone to marry you

Example Sentences

  1. I heard you had a special date with Tom yesterday; so did he pop the question, then?
  2. Maggie was deeply in love with Stuart, so when he popped the question, she said yes without any further thought.
  3. Jim and Clara had been dating for about two years when he popped the question to her.
  4. He is taking you to the most lavish restaurant in town. Do you think he is going to pop the question?
  5. He popped the question to her in the middle of the sea, when they had gone on a cruise together.
  6. After months of deliberation, he finally mustered the courage to pop the question to her when they went for a movie together.
  7. The setting was perfect, and she waited expectantly for him to pop the question then, but when he didn’t, she was really disappointed.
  8. He had given her enough hints for the past few days, so when he finally popped the question, she was ready with her answer.

Origin
This phrase has been used since 1725, but with other meanings related to asking about something important. The specific sense of proposing marriage has been used since 1826.

puppy love

puppy love

Meaning

  • a mild infatuation, or a crush
  • a shallow but intense romantic attachment, usually associated with adolescents
  • temporary infatuation of a teenager
  • romantic love felt by a young person which disappears as they grow older
  • adolescent love that is not expected to last

Example Sentences

  1. Most teenagers are quick to fall in love and expect it to last a lifetime, but of course it is puppy love and they soon fall out of it.
  2. My friend had his first love affair when he was just twelve. It was just puppy love, but at that time, he felt on top of the world.
  3. When Beth fell in love with Joe at a young age, she was sure that she would marry him, but now she realizes that it was just puppy love and has moved on.
  4. I think Pam and Sid are the cutest young couple in town. Although it might be just puppy love, they look wonderful together.
  5. They do make a nice couple, but do you think they would really last together or is it just puppy love?
  6. Jane is crazy about him, but I think it is just puppy love and don’t expect it to last.

Origin
The phrase has been since the early 1800s. It refers to the love that a young dog expresses for its owner.

pin money

pin money

Meaning

  • A small amount.
  • In the olden times it was used to describe the money given to women to buy clothing for herself.
  • A small sum paid for a small service.
  • Something that is earned by a child.
  • An earning of someone low-paid.
  • Money that is small change used for incidentals.

Example Sentences

  1. The maid service in this area are no longer available at pin money. You have to shell out big bucks in order to get household help.
  2. I used to odd jobs when I was in high school to earn pin money.
  3. My niece will babysit for you for pin money.
  4. You can’t buy such a thing with pin money.
  5. It’s always good to have pin money set aside when running a business.
  6. The earning from this job is pin money but at least you get a good looking resume when you’ve survived here for a year.

Origin
As mentioned above, it began as the money which was paid as allowance to women so that they could make small purchases for themselves. It is no longer used in that sense. In 1542, it was used, albeit in a different form, in the work titled ‘The Testamenta Eboracensia – A Selection of Wills from the Registry at York’. The exact use of this phrase was in the work named ‘English Republic’ by J. Keble.

paddle own canoe

paddle your own canoe

Meaning

  • To be able to act without having to depend on anyone.
  • Decide your own fortune.
  • Go in your own direction.
  • Self-reliance.

Example Sentences

  1. He feels he can paddle his own canoe now so wants to move out of his parent’s house.
  2. Children need their parents around, they can’t just paddle their own canoe.
  3. She is a strong woman and can paddle her own canoe without having a man in her life.
  4. He prefers doing small and odd jobs to be able to paddle his own canoe rather than depending upon help that may never come.
  5. When you are out of school and have completed college education then it is time for you to paddle your own canoe.
  6. I have seen the world on my own, I like paddling my own canoe.

Origin
The phrase has been in existence since the early 19th century. In 1807 it was used in the work named, ‘The Selangor Journal: Jottings Past and Present’. In 1939 the phrase was used by Lord Baden-Powell as the tittle of his book and meant it in the way that it is being used today.

The phrase has been used by anonymous writers in poetries since 1851.

pitch in

pitch in

Meaning

  • join in and help with something
  • join forces with others
  • contribute something towards a common endeavour
  • do something helpful as part of a group

Example Sentences

  1. On Jane’s birthday her friends decided to pitch in and have a surprise party for her.
  2. As his medical expenses kept soaring, his entire family pitched in so that he could carry on his treatment.
  3. Last weekend we all pitched in and started mowing the field.
  4. During our camping trip, everyone pitched in and set up the tent.
  5. We are having a farewell party for him tonight, would you like to pitch in?
  6. It was a difficult task, but when everyone pitched in, it was finished quite fast.
  7. Why don’t you pitch in and help us with the arrangements?
  8. Let’s pitch in with the team and go for a hike together.

Origin
The origin of this phrase is not known.

pull leg

pull someone’s leg
or leg pulling

Meaning:

  • tease someone
  • joking around
  • deceive in a playful, harmless way
  • fool or trick someone in a humorous way

Example:

  1. Don’t worry about what he said. He’s just pulling your leg.
  2. You can’t be serious about that! Stop pulling my leg.
  3. Did he mean it when he said he’s leaving you or was he just pulling your leg?
  4. As a big brother, he was always pulling his sister’s leg, but he was there for her when needed.
  5. I think he was just pulling your leg when he said you’ve failed in the exam.
  6. I was just pulling your leg when I said that the company is going to shut down.

Origin:
The phrase first appeared in the late 1800s in America. The origin is not clear, though there are two popular theories, but both implausible. The first theory says that thieves used to pull the legs of their victims to put them off guard, so that they could rob them. The second one refers to hangings that were held in Tyburn, England. It is said that people were hired to hang on the victim’s leg to give them a quick execution.

when pigs fly

when pigs fly

or pigs might fly or flying pig

Meaning:

  • something that will never happen
  • impossible
  • highly unlikely to happen

Example Sentences:

  1. Her crazy mother said that being so lazy, Megan is going to be rich one day for sure and without any hard working job. Come on, when pigs fly!
  2. I asked my boss if I could go on a two month vacation, he said yes, when pigs fly!
  3. I think he’ll pay you back your money – when pigs fly.
  4. “I think I’ll start working on my project from tomorrow.” “Yes, and pigs might fly.”
  5. “Do you think our team will win the competition?” “Yes, flying pig.”
  6. John asked Sarah whether she would go to the movies with him, Sarah replied that would happen when pigs fly.
  7. He plans to clean his house every week, but he will probably do it only when pigs fly.
  8. “Someday, I’ll become a successful actor.” “And pigs might fly.”
  9. I’ll join your physics classes when pigs fly.

Origin:
The phrase “pigs might fly” or “pigs may fly” has been used in various forms since the 1600s, when it was said that “pigs fly with their tails forward”, used as a sarcastic remark something overly optimistic. The form “when pigs fly” is more common in America.

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