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27 Common Idioms about Geographical Features in English


Geographical Idioms! Learn useful idioms about geographical features in English with meaning, ESL picture and example sentences.

Idioms about Geographical Features

List of idioms about Geographical Features

  • (It’s a) Small World!
  • (The) Grass Is (Always) Greener in the Next Pasture (on the Other Side)
  • Across The Pond
  • Back Forty
  • Back Of Beyond
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place
  • Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
  • Beyond the Pale
  • Go with the Flow
  • King of the Hill
  • Living Under a Rock
  • Make a Mountain out of a Molehill
  • Man Cave
  • Out in the Sticks
  • Over the Hill
  • Over the Moon
  • Set the Thames on Fire
  • Slippery Slope
  • Stem the Tide
  • Swim Against the Tide
  • Test the Waters
  • The Coast Is Clear
  • Tip of the Iceberg
  • Too Busy Fighting Alligators to Drain the Swamp
  • Up a Creek
  • Virgin Territory
  • Water Under the Bridge

Geographical Idioms with Meaning and Examples

(It’s a) Small World!

  • Meaning: It is surprising to encounter connections with familiar people in unexpected places.
  • ExampleI went all the way to Indonesia, and I met someone from my hometown. Small world!

(The) Grass Is (Always) Greener in the Next Pasture (on the Other Side)

  • Meaning: A different situation may often seem better than one’s own
  • ExampleYes, it may look as though things would be better if you changed jobs, but remember, the grass is always greener in the next pasture.

Note: This is a proverb.

Across The Pond

  • Meaning: On or to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • ExampleAcross the pond, you’ll find that the English language changes quite a bit!

Note: Generally refers to the UK and the USA.

Back Forty

  • Meaning: Remote, inaccessible land
  • ExampleWe have lots of land that we’re not doing anything with. We could at least put in some paths through the back forty.

Note: This idiom is American.

Back Of Beyond

  • Meaning: A remote location
  • Example: We’re so far out in the back of beyond that I can’t even get a cell phone signal.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

  • Meaning: Caught between two undesirable options
  • ExampleWe’re between a rock and a hard place: if we keep Arnold on the payroll he’ll continue to screw up, but if we fire him he’ll take our secrets to others.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

  • Meaning: In a difficult position
  • ExampleThe new law has put cellular phone companies between the devil and the deep blue.

Note: Between a rock and a hard place” is more common in the USA.

Beyond the Pale

  • Meaning: Too morally or socially extreme to accept
  • ExampleLady Gaga’s stage shows are beyond the pale for authorities in some conservative countries.

Go with the Flow

  • Meaning: To accept the way things naturally seem to be going
  • Example: It’s best to go with the flow for a while after you start a new job. Later, after you’ve been there a while, you can challenge established procedures.

King of the Hill

  • Meaning: At the top of one’s field; the most influential person in a given field or area
  • ExampleJeff is king of the hill among the chess players around here.

Living Under a Rock

  • Meaning: Ignorant of imporant events. Usually used as a question: “”Have you been living under a rock?”
  • ExampleYou don’t know that the mayor lost the election? Have you been living under a rock?

Make a Mountain out of a Molehill

  • Meaning: To take something too seriously; to make too much of something
  • ExampleBarbara, you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Yes, Joe was wrong, but what he did doesn’t really matter much.

Man Cave

  • Meaning: A part of the house, often the basement, that is left to the man of the household, perhaps with a workshop, a television for watching sports, etc.
  • ExampleLet’s make sure we buy a house with a finished basement. I need a man cave where I can relax.

Note: This idiom is North American.

Out in the Sticks

  • Meaning: In a remote location; far from a city
  • ExampleThat restaurant is way out in the sticks. It takes an hour to drive there, but it’s worth it.

Over the Hill

  • Meaning: Past one’s prime
  • Example: Our striker is over the hill – we need to start bringing along a replacement for him.

Over the Moon

  • Meaning: Extremely happy
  • ExampleGina was over the moon when Don proposed to her.

Note: This is rather old-fashioned.

Set the Thames on Fire

  • Meaning: Do something amazing. Usually used in the negative.
  • ExampleTony will never set the Thames on fire, but he comes to work on time every day and gets a lot done.

Slippery Slope

  • Meaning: A series of undesirable effects that, one warns, could result from a certain action
  • ExampleMarijuana may not seem to be a strong drug, but some argue that it can put you on the slippery slope to addiction.

Stem the Tide

  • Meaning: To stop or control the growth of something, usually something unpleasant.
  • ExampleTo try to stem the tide of intolerance, the president named a racially and religiously diverse cabinet.

Swim Against the Tide

  • Meaning: Do something contrary to a trend or usual opinion
  • ExampleHonda is swimming against the tide, continuing to put emphasis on small cars even though gas prices are low.

Test the Waters

  • Meaning: Experiment with something cautiously
  • ExampleLet’s test the waters in the European market with sales in three cities. If it goes well, we’ll roll out the product everywhere.

The Coast Is Clear

  • Meaning: We are unobserved; it is safe to proceed.
  • ExampleYou can come out from under the bed now. The coast is clear!

Tip of the Iceberg

  • Meaning: A small, visible part of a much larger problem
  • ExampleThe problems with the sales team are just the tip of the iceberg. This company has deep management failings.

Too Busy Fighting Alligators to Drain the Swamp

  • Meaning: So occupied with multiple challenges that one can’t keep the big picture in mind
  • ExampleLately we’ve been having so many problems in sales that I haven’t been able to work on the new plan-”I’m too busy fighting alligators to drain the swamp.

Note: Commonly this is given in the form: “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it does no good to remember that you should have drained the swamp.

Up a Creek

  • Meaning: In a very bad situation
  • ExampleRight now, with the buses not running and no money for a taxi to get home, I’d say were up a creek.

Note: Up shit creek is obscene.

Virgin Territory

  • Meaning: Something that has never been explored, physically or intellectually
  • ExampleTwenty years ago the field of neurobiology was virgin territory, but now it’s a very hot speciality.

Water Under the Bridge

  • Meaning: Something in the past that’s no longer worth worrying about
  • ExampleI’m really sorry about losing your necklace. “That’s water under the bridge. It’s gone now, and we can’t bring it back. Don’t worry about it.

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Useful idioms about Geographical Features in English

idioms about Geographical Features

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