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Idioms Exercises: Idioms for Describing People

Fill in the blanks to form an idiom for describing people. The idioms used in this exercise are listed after the practice activity. It may be a good idea to study the list of idioms before trying the exercise.

Also see the Idioms Builder for practice with hundreds of idioms (including the idioms in this exercise).



Idioms for Describing People

The following idioms for describing people are used in the practice activity:


wet behind the ears
Someone wet behind the ears is young and inexperienced.
dime a dozen
A dime a dozen means common and almost worthless. This idiom can be used to describe both people and things.
the wrong side of the tracks
Someone from the wrong side of the tracks is from the bad part of town.
not cut out for something 
Someone not cut out for something is not the right person for a certain job, task, or activity.
hot head
A hot head is someone who gets angry easily.
dead wood
Dead wood refers to people no longer useful to an organization.
Someone two-faced is deceitful and likely to betray people.
past one’s prime
If someone is past their prime, they are not as good as they once were due to advanced age.
washed up
Washed up is similar to past one’s prime. It means that someone is no longer successful and that their best days are behind them.
out of one’s mind
Out of one’s mind means crazy.
yes man
A yes man is someone who always agrees with their superiors.
rub someone the wrong way
To rub someone the wrong way means to bother or offend someone accidentally.
laughing stock
To be the laughing stock means to be someone many people make fun of. We often say someone is the laughing stock of a place, an organization, a community, etc.
set in one’s ways
Someone set in their ways is not easily persuaded to change or consider other ideas.
can’t hold a candle to someone
If someone can’t hold a candle to someone else, it means that the person is far inferior to the other person.


man of his word
A man of his word is someone who keeps promises.
down to earth
Someone down to earth is humble and not pretentious.
tough as nails (also hard as nails)
Someone tough as nails is strong and determined.
big shot
A big shot is someone very important.
Someone happy-go-lucky is carefree and without worry.
would give you the shirt off one’s back
Someone who would give you the shirt off their back is extremely generous.
diamond in the rough
A diamond in the rough is someone with potential but lacking refinement.
heart of gold
Someone with a heart of gold is very kind.
first rate
Someone first-rate is excellent. We can also say second rate and third rate to describe someone of inferior quality.
class act
A class act is someone regarded as outstanding and admirable.
going places
Someone going places is on their way to becoming successful.
up-and-coming (noun form is up-and-comer)
Someone up-and-coming is steadily becoming more successful.
wasn’t/weren’t born yesterday
If someone wasn’t born yesterday, it means that they are not naive and not easily tricked.
top dog
A top dog is someone occupying the top position in an organization or someone who has the highest authority.
worth one’s salt
Someone worth their salt is competent and worthy of their pay.
open book
An open book is someone whose feelings, opinions, motives, etc. are easily understood.


night owl 
A night owl is someone who likes to stay up late.
black sheep
A black sheep is someone who doesn’t fit in with the rest of the family or group.
blue collar
blue collar worker is someone who does manual labor or works with their hands. Blue collar is the opposite of white collar. We can also use blue collar to describe things (jobs, positions, places, etc.).
white collar
white collar worker works in an office. White collar is the opposite of blue collar. We can also use white collar to describe things (jobs, positions, places, etc.).

born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
Someone born with a silver spoon in their mouth was born rich with privileges other people don’t have.
keep to oneself
Someone who keeps to themselves is quiet and does not interact much with other people.
follow in someone’s footsteps
To follow in someone’s footsteps means to follow someone’s example or path in life.
stand out in the crowd
If someone stands out in the crowd, it means they are different in a way that is obvious or easily noticed.
chip off the old block
A chip off the old block is someone who closely resembles a parent.
spitting image
If someone is a spitting image of someone else, it means the person looks like a close family member.
dark horse
A dark horse is someone unlikely to win an election or contest.
A Johnny-come-lately is a newcomer.
average Joe
An average Joe is a common man.
eat, sleep, and breathe something
If someone eats, sleeps, and breathes something, it means they are obsessed with that thing.
big fish in a small pond
A big fish in a small pond is someone very important in a small area, group, or community.
odd man out
The odd man out is someone who is different in some way from all the other members in a group.
the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
We say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree to communicate that a child is very much like one of their parents.
wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve
If someone wears their heart on their sleeve, it means they openly express their true emotions.
have a chip on one’s shoulder
Someone with a chip on their shoulder often acts angry due to a perceived injustice and feels like they have something to prove.

Also see the Idioms Builder for practice with hundreds of idioms (including the idioms in this exercise).