"When pigs fly" – what it means in English | EF Englishtown

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"When pigs fly" – what it means in English

"When pigs fly?" Now that just doesn't make sense. When did pigs grow wings? Yet, to a native English speaker, it makes total sense. The phrase when pigs fly is a great example of an idiom, or an expression that has a meaning completely different from that of the words of which it is composed. Let's take a look at some amusing idioms!


When pigs fly

Pig's can't fly! It's impossible, which is precisely what the expression means. For example, you hear someone say, "Do you think Mary will quit her job now that she's pregnant?" Another person responds, "Yeah, when pigs fly! There is no way she is giving up her career!" When he or she used the expression when pigs fly, it means that it's impossible that Mary will quit her job.

Get in someone's hair

If you get in someone's hair, you haven't climbed up onto their head! Instead, it means you are bothering them – perhaps invading their personal space. For example, "Susan was trying to prepare dinner, but her children were getting in her hair!" This means Susan's kids were bothering her when she was cooking. If someone is bothering you, you can tell them, "Get out of my hair!"

Hit the ceiling

The ceiling is quite far above our heads, so it's not easy to hit it – unless you're angry! If someone hits the ceiling it means they are reacting very angrily. For example, "When Carol's son got an F on his report card, she hit the ceiling!" This mean Carol was furious when her son failed a class.

Knock someone's socks off

Now, it might be possible to pull someone's socks off – but how do you knock them off? By impressing and exciting them of course! For example, "You should see Tom's new car! It'll knock your socks off, it's so amazing!" This means Tom's car is very impressive!

Bite the bullet

How would a bullet taste if you tried to bite it? Not very good. So why does someone bite the bullet? They do it when they bravely endure or face a difficult situation. For example, "She had to bite the bullet and give in to her boss's unreasonable demands." This means she acted bravely when faced with her boss's unfair requests.

Drive someone up a wall

Cars can't drive up walls, so who can drive you up a wall? Someone who is annoying you can! For example, "My mom is driving me up a wall! She won't ever let me stay out late." This means that I am greatly annoyed by the fact my mother won't allow me to stay out late.

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