Idioms of the Week: Money

Learning English as a second language is hard enough, but it can be especially difficult when you run into idioms in casual conversation that don’t mean what they seem. In this weekly series, we’re breaking down common English expressions that are used in everyday conversation, so you’ll be able to expand your language skills and have fun with new English phrases.

Today, we’re keeping to the theme of money, so you’ll be able to clear up your confusion over which expressions actually refer to situations involving the bank!

1. a dime a dozen (noun phrase): used to describe something very common or easily acquired

Ex. Romantic movies are a dime a dozen in movie theaters now, each one with predictable plotlines and happy endings.

2. from rags to riches (noun phrase): a situation where a person rises from poverty to wealth

Ex. Samantha went from rags to riches overnight when she won the multimillion dollar lottery.

3. on the other side of the coin (noun phrase): a different and opposite view of a situation previously talked about

Ex. The house has a beautiful backyard, but on the other side of the coin, it is in the middle of nowhere.

4. a penny for your thoughts (noun phrase): to ask what someone is thinking about, or ask for someone’s opinion

Ex. Penny for your thoughts?” Jack asked Jen when he noticed she was silent for the entire meeting.

5. my two cents (noun phrase): to give one’s opinion

Ex. Anna put her two cents worth in about the new color scheme for the office.

6. to cost an arm and a leg (verb phrase): used to describe something very expensive

Ex. The designer purse cost an arm and a leg.

7. to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth (verb phrase): used negatively to describe someone who has come from generations of wealth

Ex. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so he doesn’t have to worry about working full-time after college graduation.

8. saving for a rainy day (verb phrase): to keep money for the future, especially for an emergency

Ex. Every month, they transferred a set amount of money into their savings account to save for a rainy day.  

9. money talks (noun phrase): used negatively to describe how money can be used to influence one’s actions or make things happen

Ex. There is no clearer evidence that money talks than how congressional representatives’ opinions are easily swayed by the small fee of $30,000.

10. penny pinching (noun phrase): the practice of trying to spend as little money as possible

Ex. After John had to unexpectedly repair the leaking pipes in his attic, he resorted to penny pinching to save for his new winter coat.

Try using these idioms the next time you practice your English skills. You’ll find yourself using them more naturally in conversation in no time!