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English Idioms and Sayings: Nature Sayings and Proverbs

Idioms and proverbs are sayings whose meanings are figurative rather than literal. Such sayings are often peculiar to a language. The English language has many sayings and proverbs that mention nature. The following sections define some common English proverbs and idioms that mention land, water, and sky.

Land Sayings

The following nature sayings contain references to land features and mostly describe negative situations.

  • to beat around the bush – to be indirect; to avoid coming to the point
  • between a rock and a hard place – a difficult situation
  • Can’t see the forest for the trees. – to look too closely at small details and not see the whole picture
  • clear as mud – unclear, confusing
  • cliffhanger – a situation that ends in suspense
  • down to earth – practical and realistic
  • to head for the hills – to run away from trouble
  • to make a mountain out of a molehill – to over exaggerate the severity of a situation
  • slippery slope – a course leading to disaster or destruction

Water Sayings

These English proverbs that include references to different forms of water describe both good and bad situations.

  • across the pond – the United States if in England; England if in the United States
  • to break the ice – to make a beginning in some undertaking or enterprise; to break through cold reserve or stiffness; to begin an initial conversation with a new unknown person
  • in deep water – in big trouble
  • a drop in the ocean – a quantity bearing an infinitesimally small proportion to the whole
  • to go with the flow – to act as others are acting, conforming to common behavior patterns with an attitude of calm acceptance
  • to make waves – to cause trouble
  • to sell down the river – to betray a trust
  • on thin ice – in a dangerous, hazardous, or delicate situation; at risk; in an unsafe, difficult, or vulnerable situation
  • tip of the iceberg – when there are bigger problems that it seems
  • up the river without a paddle – in an unfortunate situation

Sky Sayings

The following English sayings contain references to the sky including light, air, the sun, the moon, the stars, wind, and the weather.

  • to beat the living daylights out of someone – to be someone severely
  • a bolt from the blue – something that happened unexpectedly
  • in broad daylight – during the day with many witnesses
  • dead air – complete and total silence
  • full of hot air – talking rubbish, talking a lot without really saying anything
  • Make hay while the sun shines. – advice to do something at an opportune time
  • many moons ago – a long time ago
  • a ray of sunshine – someone or something that brings great joy
  • to reach for the stars – to set lofty goals
  • to scare the living daylights out of someone – to scare someone severely
  • scattered to the four winds – going in all directions
  • to shed light on something – to make something clearer
  • under the weather – not feeling well
  • up in the air – in an unfixed or uncertain state, in doubt
  • to weather the storm – to reach the end of a very difficult situation without too much harm or damage

Idioms and proverbs are sayings that are peculiar to a language and whose meanings are figurative rather than literal. Many sayings and proverbs in the English language mention nature features including the land, the water, and the sky.

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