It’s a dog-eat-dog world– and other animal idioms

An idiom is a combination of words that have a symbolic meaning. Understanding and using idioms is tricky because an idiom’s meaning is different from that of the words that comprise it. We know it’s hard, but we’re here to help!

Alright, lets begin with “dog-eat-dog”. This expression refers to a place or situation that is highly competitive. In a dog-eat-dog world, people will do whatever it takes to be successful, even if that means harming others. Here’s an example: “The music industry is dog-eat-dog; one day you’re on top and the next, everyone forgot you!”


What about “cat got your tongue?” This question is used when someone is at a loss of words or being unusually quiet. If someone asks you if the cat has got your tongue, it means you seem to be speechless and can’t think of something to say. “What’s the matter Lucy, cat got your tongue?”


To “weasel out” of something can mean two things: 1. that you are trying to avoid an obligation, duty or  job like in “I weaseled out of helping my mom with the laundry!”.  2. That you are literally squeezing your way out of something as in “my little sister got stuck under the bed but she weaseled her way out.”


And the last one for today, “let the cat out of the bag”. You do this when you accidentally reveal information you weren’t supposed to, like sharing a secret. “Tim let the cat out of the bag about my surprise birthday party”.

Can you think of other idioms with animals and their uses? Share more examples with us!! Don’t be shy, or cat got your tongue?


Mariana Aguilar Ramírez
Mariana is a Pedagogy and Research summer associate at Voxy completing her Master’s degree in Learning, Media and Technology at UMass Amherst with a Fulbright- García Robles grant. She is passionate about instructional design, educational technology and has been teaching ESL in Mexico for many years. She has studied foreign languages all her life and is now tackling German. She loves to travel and spends a lot of time in the kitchen perfecting her ice-cream making skills.