In this article, we present the most commonly used idioms in English to describe people.

You will find an explanation of each idiom in English, as well as examples to illustrate its meaning. By using idioms, you can make your English speech more interesting.




A person or thing that is precious or loved above all else

  1. Richard is so attached to his daughter that he would do anything for her. She’s the apple of his eye.
  2. The boy won’t behave in school, but you can’t convince his parents. He’s the apple of their eye.

Centuries old, this expression stems from the ancient belief that the pupil of the eye was solid and shaped like an apple. The pupil was considered precious since one could not see without it.



An important, powerful, or influential person

  1. Now that you’ve been made a vice-president, you’re really a big shot, aren’t you?
  2. She must really think she’s a big cheese. She speaks to her co-workers as if they were her servants.
  3. Janet says she doesn’t want to become a big wheel in the company because she doesn’t want so much responsibility.

The expression big shot is often used sarcastically or disparagingly.



A person who is very excited and enthusiastic about pursuing some activity

  1. Paul just discovered jogging as a form of exercise, and he went out and bought new running shoes, a new tracksuit, and all the other gear that goes along with it. he’s a real eager beaver about jogging.
  2. Dieting must be done slowly and carefully. Don’t be such an eager beaver to lose weight that you harm yourself by not eating anything.

The expression suggests the image of an anxiously working beaver, which is reputed to be an active, industrious animal. It has a slightly negative connotation, as of someone eager to impress others with his/her effort.



An office worker

  1. This company doesn’t employ any manual laborers. Everyone who works for this company is a white-collar worker.
  2. Dick likes to work outside in the fresh air and sunshine. He wouldn’t be very happy as a white-collar worker in an office somewhere.

Antonym: blue-collar worker

The expression describes the color of the collar (and therefore the business shirt) worn by office workers. A manual laborer would not wear a white shirt because it would get dirty very quickly and be hard to keep clean.



A person who earns a living doing manual labor, or generally uses his or her body rather than his or her mind to earn a living

  1. Sam works on an assembly line mass-producing clock radios. He’s a blue-collar worker.
  2. People who work in factories doing heavy labor are usually blue-collar workers.

Antonym: white-collar worker

The expression originates from the color of the shirt generally worn by factory workers while on the job.


After the book “In the Loop: A Reference Guide to American English Idioms”


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