Every Dog Has Its Day: Positive Animal Idioms

Albino mouse pose 188081254So far in our Idiom blog series we have discussed how all manner of things – from numbers and food to colors and even body parts – have left their impression, idiomatically, on the English language. It seems almost overdue, then, that animals finally take center stage. After all, there are almost as many idioms from animals in our language as there are on our planet! Indeed, with so many distinct creatures lending their names to so many idioms, we are going to concentrate, for now, only on those expressions with positive connotations. Here are a few of our favorites:

As Quiet As A Mouse
As mice are not known for their “big mouths,” it makes sense that when people are as quiet as a mouse they, too, are pretty subdued. What makes this expression a little more complicated is the fact that it is used to describe people who are not only move silently (like, say, ninjas) but also people who are reluctant to speak (that is, shy or timid) or just plain well-behaved.

A Bookworm
If “you are what you eat” then a bookworm is someone who devours books – in a figurative sense, anyway! That is because a bookworm is someone who likes to read.

An Early Bird
This expression is, at least in part, related to a longer English proverb – “the early bird gets the worm” – in which the bird in question is rewarded with a nice breakfast thanks to its promptness. In the same way, an early bird in general can be seen as anyone who either a) arrives to scheduled appointment earlier than anyone else or b) is early to bed and early to rise.

To Work Like a Dog
Dogs enjoy a strong reputation as man’s best friend so it seems only fitting that they lay claim to this, one of the most positive idioms on this list. To work like a dog is to work “doggedly” – in other words with great tenacity and drive – much like the animal companions of shepherds, firemen, and even the blind.  Although it can be used negatively – even our four-legged friends are overworked from time to time – by and large it is descriptive of very determined people.

Check out other idioms used in English blog posts for more fun and exciting ways you can use English.


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