Ten Idioms from Cartoons

As a part of my effort to use interesting ways for teaching English, I’ve decided to gather a collection of pictures from popular cartoons which are perfect for teaching idioms in English. You can use these images for practicing speaking and vocabulary.

Every image represents one idiom. The focus of you lesson would be to explore the meaning of the idiom and to analyze the image, and figure out how to relate the image to the idiom. Along the way, you could:

  • Introduce other idioms
  • Talk about the cartoon
  • Talk about situations when students were in the similar situation

Exercise: Each image illustrates one idiom. There are three possible answers below each image, and the goal is find the correct one. (Correct answers are in the end of this article).

1. Against the clock


a) In a great hurry to get something done before a particular time.
b) Just in time, at the last possible moment.
c) Not worrying about the time.

2. Better late than never


a) You should not be late.
b) It is better to do something after it was supposed to have been done than not to do it at all.
c) It is better not to do anything if you are going to be late.

3. Have eyes in the back of your head


a) To wear glasses.
b) To know everything that is happening around you.
c) To have a friend behind your back.

4. Tip of the iceberg


a) The part of a problem that can be seen, with far more serious problems lying underneath.
b) Uncertain situation that could cause harm.
c) Almost doing or experiencing something.

5. Keep an eye on


a) To be enthusiastic about someone or something.
b) To be responsible for someone or something.
c) To watch or give your attention to someone or something.

6. It’s raining cats and dogs


a) To fall or drop down on someone or something like rain.
b) To rain very heavily.
c) Doing something that spoils someone’s plans.

7. Smell something fishy


a) To seem suspicious.
b) To seem to easy to be true.
c) To have a strong or unpleasant smell.

8. Miss the boat


a) Not being able to do something because it’s too difficult.
b) To be just in time, at the last possible moment.
c) To be too late to get something that you want.

9. Not see the forest for the trees


a) To pay too much attention to details and not understand the general situation.
b) To do everything others are doing.
c) To be lost and unable to find the way.

10. Sleep on it


a) To sleep until you’re fully relaxed.
b) To wait before making an important decision.
c) To sleep despite the problems and worries you might have.


1. a            2. b          3. b            4. a             5. c
6.b            7. a           8. c            9. a             10. b