Your friend says, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
And you’re wondering, “what? We weren’t talking about dogs. What’s he talking about?”
You’ve just heard an animal idiom.
Idioms are a type of figurative language. A figurative expression is one whose meaning has no relation to the words in the phrase. They use creative descriptions to share an idea or feeling.
Native English speakers often use idioms without thinking, which makes it difficult for people who are learning English to understand. Check out our other idioms posts for some more examples.
We use a lot of animal idioms in English. Take a look at our six excellent examples.
1. A little bird told me: Somebody secretly told me
This is a very polite way saying that the person learned the secret but they are not ready to tell the source.
Example: I’ve heard you have connection with the party that Ravi Verma heads, a little bird told me!
2. At a snail’s pace: Moving very slowly
Have you seen a snail? They walk really slowly. So if somebody is marked to be walking at a snail’s pace, it means the person walk really slow.
3. Open a can of worms: Create a whole new set of problems
Suppose you are already messed with up in a problem, and by mistake, you opened a can of worms. What will happen? You will have to deal with a whole new problem. So, Opening a Can of worms is generally used to tell that while already dealing with a problem, you, by your own mistake, you started an another problem.
4. Wild goose chase: Chasing something that is extremely difficult to catch.
If you ever try catching a Goose, you will realize that it is too fast to catch. It looks a really silly task if you are on such chase.
5. Mad as a hornet: Completely furious.
A hornet is a wasp. And if you’ve ever messed up with it, even accidentally, you should know the damage it causes. The pain it brings to you is really unbearable.
6. Get your ducks in a row: Organize your tasks or the things.
Have you seen how Duckling follow their mother, they’re often in a straight line, in a very organised way. So this is what it means to get the ducks in a row, to make the things organised. It usually refers to a work or a task.