{December 1, 2008}   Idioms and Slang in the Classroom

Very frequently, teen students ask their English teachers about swearings and slang phrases. The answer provided is almost always the same: “you are here to learn English, not to learn swearings“. However, as it has been pointed out here before, different styles, accents, formalities, regional slang, idioms, and well, swearings too, make up the English language.

I think that we should include at least some slang phrases in our teaching practices since it is a really important part of the language. I remember one of my teachers at the language school saying “If you know nothing about colloquial English you know no English“.

So, I’ve made my good deed of the week and I’m sharing it with you. To teach slang, you have to know slang. Here, I’m posting a full set of websites where you can fin slang phrases to work with. They are really awesome!

From the very beginning, It must be clearly stated to the students that the context where these phrases and words are used is really important not to be misunderstood. Then, you can present these prhases as a “slang class”, where you focus just on the vocabulary students want to learn, or, to contextualize the different phrases, you can choose to work with some 5 or 6 slang phrases related to the unit of studies you are working with. Here, for instance, if you are working with a unit about crime, you can either work with those idioms and slang phrases that contain a word related to crime, or, whose meaning is related to crime.

I always try to teach some idioms and slang to my students in each unit of studies. so, if you are in need of ideas, just ask me!

American Slang
American Slang for ESL students
Animal Idioms and Expressions (
Some of these idioms are not commonly used. However some are.’s Idiom Pages
a bad sort, a bit, a bolt from the blue, a closed book, a crying shame, …
Australian English Glossary from A to Zed
Berko, Bikies, Damper, Floater, Joey, …
Australian Words & Phrases (Sally Lawrence)
Ankle-biter = infant; Arvo = afternoon, Croc = crocodile, etc.
Caroline Brown’s English Lessons – Phrasal Verbs
Study with examples, then try the Flash quizzes.
Comenius Group’s Idioms
This is only a partially functioning website located at
Common American Slang (Charles I. Kelly & Lawrence E. Kelly)
Over 280 Common American Slang Expressions in a Quiz Format
Dave’s ESL Slang Page (Dave Sperling)
English slang, explanations and examples. See the
Dictionary of American Idioms (
Scroll past the Russian and you’ll find all 8,000 idioms here all on one page.’s Animal Idioms and Expressions (Holly M. Burns)
work like ants, bark up the wrong tree, blind as a bat, (Some are rarely used.)
English Daily – American Slang Expressions (Hon Long)
See the expression, its definition and an example sentence.
English Idioms & Idiom Quizzes (Kenneth Lawrence)
Idioms, each with a definition and a sentence example. Minimal images.
English Idioms new link thanks to Sam!
Study the idioms, then take the quizzes.
English Language Idioms (Vancouver English Centre)
101 idioms with explanations and examples
Everyday English and Slang in Ireland (Gerry Coughlan)
afters = dessert; ages = long time; agro = fight; ,,, – The Lighter Side – 5 Idioms
from English Teaching Forum Online, Volue 41, Number 1 (January 2003)
RSS FEED: Get used to American slang by getting dayily idioms via this RSS feed
Global English Salon – Idioms (David Temple)
Color Idioms, Animal Idioms and Body Part Idioms (Windows Media Player Required)
GMAT Idiom List (Raman Virk / Sukhi Singh)
Idioms and example sentences.
Go English – Today’s English Idioms (Adam Sullivan)
Get the meaning and origins of English idioms on fast-loading pages with no advertising. – Daily Idiom & Browsable Idiom Dictionary (Adam Sullivan)
After seeing the daily idiom, you can click to the next or previous idiom.
Hakan’s ESL (English As a Second Language) Pages (Hakan Senturk)
An idiom quiz, a slang quiz, a ‘common errors’ quiz and bookstore.
Idiom Page (Dennis Oliver & Dave Sperling)
A collection of about 200 idioms
Idiom Site . Com (Over 200 English Idioms) (Eric Borgos)
1 idiom per page: absent without leave, doubting Thomas, chow down, deadline, ..
Idioms, Slang & Phrasal Verb Quizzes (The Internet TESL Journal)
See the answers right away. Produced by teachers around the world.
INGLÊS ONLINE – Idiomatic Expressions (Waldinei L. Cruz)
Expressions used in a sentence. Definitions in Portuguese.
John Finley’s Idioms (John Finley)
One idioms per page. Examples and uses. It’s raining cats and dogs and others.
John`s ESL Community – Idioms (John Erskin)
Includes meaning and usage with an example sentence.
Learn American Idioms by Example (Hon Long)
Smell a rat, go to the dogs, fishy, for the birds, horse around, …
Learn English with the Idioms Collection (Diego Riesco)
Idioms and set phrases along with black and white cartoons.
8,000 idioms with sentence examples.
Map of English Idioms – English Idioms in Common Use in Europe & Asia (Glen Wheeler)
‘easier said than done’ and 4 other idioms
Map of English Idioms – English Idioms in Common Use in North America (Glen Wheeler)
‘How’s it going, eh?’ and 12 other idioms
Map of English Idioms – Main Page (Glen Wheeler)
Small collection of English idioms. Requires downloading images.
Paint by Idioms (FunBrain.Com)
Multiple-choice questions for native English-speaking children, but OK for ESL.
Phrasal Verbs Page at Dave’s ESL Cafe (Dennis Oliver & Dave Sperling)
About 180 phrasal verbs, each with a definition and an example sentence.
Slang Dictionary (by Distance Learning, Inc) @
searchable or browsable by category
Slang Dictionary (by Distance Learning, Inc) @
searchable or browsable by category
Slang uses of the word ‘dog’ (Ian Evans)
A page which lists all the slang, and idiomatic, uses of the word ‘dog’
Some Irish Slang (Trish Loughman)
Acting the maggot, Bags, Banjaxed, Bold, Culchies, Flitters, Holliers, … – American English Sports & Games Idioms (Jean Henry)
Sports and Games idioms for the Student of American English
The Daily Idiom (Diana O’Connor)
Register to have an idiom emailed to you.
The Online Slang Dictionary – A Collaborative Project (Walter Rader)
For native English speaker to use as a reference. Not for memorization.
The Phrase Finder (Gary Martin)
Browse a list of phrases: bed of roses, bee in your bonnet, dead ringer, …
Toon into Idioms (Adam Rado)
Toons and Voices or Text. Idioms illustrated with cartoons.
Twists, Slugs and Roscoes: A Glossary of Hardboiled Slang (William Denton)
Alderman, Babe, Bing, Bop, Chick, Cop, Dame, Flat, Fry, … – A Dictionary of English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions (Adam King & Richard Flynn)
You can find one sentence per page with the idiom. No definitions – Phrasal Verb Glossary (Adam King & Richard Flynn)
The phrasal verb, its definition and a sample sentence.
Wayne Magnuson’s Idioms Web Site
Mirrored web site at
Winfield College – Idiom Page
‘Make ends meet’ and 7 other idioms. 1 idiom per page along with an ad. – Slang
Has 1 slang expression. Apparently changes each week. Includes advertising. – Learn American Idioms (Hon Long)
Examples and definitions. – Learn American Slang Expressions (Hon Long)
Examples and definitions. (eye-opener, have a screw loose, dry run, …) – Today’s English Idiom (Aaron Aardvark)
Get a randomly-chosen idiom and its meaning each time you visit. – Idioms and Expressions and Slang to Go (Paul Forde)
12 idioms: canon arm, rock star, hit the lights, hot chick, two left feet, – Business Idioms (Nancy Gregory)
belt-tightening, bite the bullet, work down to the wire, and others – Everyday Idioms [FRAME] (Nancy Gregory)
rule of thumb, stab someone in the back, pull an all-nighter, and others. – Idiom Dictionary (Amanda Wu)
The interface is a bit slow. It requires Flash. – Idioms and Proverbs (Kenneth Simmons)
A short list with explanations. The page is for native English speakers, not ESL – Ask Mr. ESL (Idioms) (Clay Belcher)
Many of the links on this page get NOT FOUND errors. However, there is some material here.
Online English idiom dictionary’s American Slang (Robert McAlister and Harmon Abilene)
Dime a Dozen, All Ears, Ammo, Around-the-Clock, etc. – Alphabetical List of Phrasal Verbs (Kathleen Beke)
Phrasal verbs listed with their meanings – Idioms & Proverbs (Kathleen Beke)
Idioms, proverbs and wordgames for esl.efl students. – List of Business English Idioms
Across the board, at a loss, bail a company out, deliver the goods, … – Phrasal Verbs (Patrick Thompson)
See the meaning and example sentences. – Animal Idioms (Drag and Drop Quiz) (Requires Java)
escape the ___ race, get the ___ share, flog a dead ___, get paid ___ feed, … – 52 Idioms (Educational Software Products)
with a pinch of salt, touch and go, toe the line, fly off the handle, …’s Phrasal Verb Lesson (Cuauhtemoc Zepeda Arriola)
Requires Flash. – The Weekly Idiom
Sample dialogues and audio: As a Rule, To Bug Somebody, …’s Slang Dictionary
searchable or browsable by category – Idioms for ESL Students [FRAME] (Masataka Aoki)
decked out, wrap it up, give in, sleep on it, get back to, … (Juan Antonio Prez)
Listening, Corpus, Dictionary, Particles, Quizzes, Reading, Games, Grammar, … (George Ivanov)
8,000 idioms with sentence examples. (Pee Yush)
Mostly Australian Slang; Not designed for ESL (A. C. Kemp)
Online guide to adult American slang. – Idioms, Slang, Phrasal Verbs, and Proverbs (Sally Jennings)
About 700 Expressions, each with an example. – 25 Common English Idioms (Joseph DeVeto)
as easy as pie, be sick and tired, bend over backwards, change one’s mind, …
Tigtag’s List of Idioms (A-C) (Huang Ting)
The idiom, what it means and an example of how it is used.
Tigtag’s List of Idioms (G-I) (Huang Ting)
The idiom, what it means and an example of how it is used.
Tigtag’s List of Idioms (M-O) (Huang Ting)
The idiom, what it means and an example of how it is used.
Wayne Magnuson’s English Idioms, Sayings and Slang (Wayne Magnuson)
Look for idioms by sections, … containing a specific word, … (Warwick Bone)
Australian Slang Dictionary and Customs.

Previously recommended here:

English Slang of the UK
London Slang
London Film Slang
Dublin Slang Dictionary
Online Slang Dictionary
Black American Slang
Commonly-Used American Slang
Slang Discussion
Hip Hop Slang Dictionary
Australian Slang Dictonary
Street Terms: Drugs and the Drug Trade
Drug Slang
Drug Slang Dictionary
Buzz Slang
Sex Slang
Street Slang
Gay UK Dictionary
American Gay Slang
Toilet Slang
The Online Dictionaryof Playground Slang
College Slang
OFFENSIVE SLANG ::: A Dictionary of Offensive & Insulting Slang
Military Slang
Air Force Slang
Crime Slang
Surf Slang
Sillicon Valley Slang
Vietnam Veteran’s Terminology and Slang
60’s Slang
Bankruptcy Dictionary
A prisoner’s Dictionary
The Devil’s Dictionary
The Skeptic’s Dictionary
Cool Western Slang
A 19 th Century Slang Dictionary
Prison Slang
Prison Slang 2
Prison Slang 3
Prison Slang 4
Prison Slang 5
Prison Slang 6
Prison Slang 7
Source: google, Yahoo Groups

One of my favorites is This website seems to have everything. I especially like the word of the day.

Another good one is World Wide Words: This is a website created my Michael Quinion. He has written several books about words. He writes from a British English prospective.

Sam says:


My name is Samuel and I have found that there is a broken link of your page at

The link for “Idiom” at no longer works.

The new link is at

Please update the link and let me know when the link is updated.

Thank you.


treandpep says:

Thanks a lot for the link, Sam! I already modified the post. Hope their are useful!

Hello my friend! I want to say that this post is awesome, nice written and include almost all significant infos. I would like to see more posts like this .

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