Shoulder Idioms

Body Idioms Course Idioms | Vocabulary | Prepositions


I am determined to make idioms as accessible for all students as any other part of the English language. Reading and memorising lists of vocabulary is not the most productive, interesting, or useful exercise in English language learning. I created these Activities to encourage you to not only learn and remember many English idioms, but also to have fun with them, as having fun is a great aid to learning and remembering. It is important that you know as many idioms as possible as native English speakers use them with alarming regularity. I hope that as you work your way through the Idiom Activities you will make some of the idioms your own and use them regularly like a native.


Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.


Prepositions are short words that usually go before nouns and sometimes before gerunds and which tell us about the time or place of things in relation to other things. There are few rules when it comes to learning prepositions and you really just have to learn them one by one. Most students of English find prepositions very difficult to learn and confusing to use. Prepositions are also important in phrasal verbs, and these also need to be learnt and memorised one by one. These Activities are designed to help you learn some of the more common prepositions in English.

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Learn some common English idioms with this vocabulary activation pack. The idioms are: Give someone the cold shoulder, To have broad shoulders, Rub elbows or shoulders with, Shoulder to cry on, Shoulder to the wheel, Have a good head on your shoulders, Carry the world on your shoulders, Look over your shoulder, Stand on the shoulders of giants, Shoulder to shoulder, A chip on your shoulder, Fall squarely on someone’s shoulders, Head and shoulders above, and A weight off your shoulders.

Body Idioms Course



To give someone the cold shoulder is to behave towards them in a way that is not at all friendly, possibly for reasons the other person doesn’t understand.

“After the way she behaved, it’s hardly surprising he gave her the cold shoulder.”


If you have the ability to cope with unpleasant responsibilities and to be able to accept criticism calmly, you have broad shoulders.

“Faced with that kind of press coverage, it’s a good thing he has broad shoulders.”


To socialise with celebrities, or to spend time with people socially, is to rub elbows/shoulders with them.

“As a reporter on a gossip magazine I often rub elbows/shoulders with the rich and famous.”


A shoulder to cry on is someone who will comfort you emotionally when things have gone badly wrong.

“If she needs a shoulder to cry on, of course, I’m here.”


To put your shoulder to the wheel means to work vigorously and make a concentrated effort at something.

“It’s surprising how much you can get done when you put your shoulder to the wheel.”


If someone has a good head on their shoulders, they are intelligent and can be depended on to fulfil a particular role.

“She never went to university, but she has a good head on her shoulders.”


To feel under a lot of pressure because of your immense responsibilities is to carry the world on your shoulders.

“I wouldn’t want to be Prime Minister. You seem to have to carry the world on your shoulders.”


When you feel you are under imminent danger from someone or something you’re constantly looking over your shoulder.

“You seem a little paranoid, always looking over your shoulder.”


If you make a discovery based on the previous work of those who have gone before you, you are standing on the shoulders of giants.

“Because so many sacrifice for me, I stand on the shoulders of giants.”


To stand shoulder to shoulder with a group all person is to share their purpose and support them, especially during difficult times.

“The sergeant stood shoulder to shoulder with the inspector throughout the enquiry.”


Someone who has a chip on their shoulder appears constantly angry because they feel they have been slighted or are inferior to others.

“I used to have a chip on my shoulder about not having been to university.”


Something becomes the sole responsibility of you when it falls squarely on your shoulders.

“With my partners in prison, the success of this company falls squarely on my shoulders.”


Someone or something that is head and shoulders above someone or something else is far superior to them.

“As a chess player, he is head and shoulders above the rest.”


When something is a weight off your shoulders, you have rid yourself of something that has been travelling or worrying you for a long time.

“When I learned I wouldn’t have to give the presentation after all, it was a huge weight off my shoulders.”

Body Idioms

I originally thought that I would find 100 to 200 idioms related to the body, but as I continued gathering the idioms for each part of the body, I realised there were going to be considerably more. With an ever-growing list of idioms before me, I despaired of ever being able to complete the definitions and examples that would be required for each one. However, with a bit of elbow grease, I put my back into it, and managed to complete all 522 of them. In this course, you will find many of the idiomatic expressions related to the body.

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Idioms Activation Pack - Arms

There are 13 arms idioms in this Idiom Activation Pack. To be up in arms, Have one arm tied behind your back, Cost an arm and a leg, Lay down your arms, Strong-arm tactics, Keep somebody at arm’s length, Have a list as long as your arm, To give your right arm, Welcome someone with open arms, The long arm of the law, Twist someone’s arm, Chance your arm, and To bear arms. After you have seen, heard, and read the idioms and their meanings, you can activate them and make them part of your active vocabulary. You can do this by using the Idioms Activator which I have designed to give you plenty of practice in listening, reading, and writing the idioms you have learnt in this Idiom Activation Pack. These Idiom Activation Packs are designed to help you activate your English skills. I have been helping students learn, remember, and use the all-important idiomatic expressions for many years and now I want to reach many more students by using the latest technology. I have designed this Idiom Activation Pack to make learning British English idioms as easy and enjoyable as possible. Idioms Activation Pack - Arms

Categories: Idioms | Vocabulary

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Leg Idioms

Learn some common British English idioms in this video English lesson from Britlish. The idioms are: Tail between your legs, On its last legs, Get a leg up, Pulling your leg, Shake a leg, Break a leg, Not have a leg to stand on, Stretch your legs, Legwork, and Sea legs. This lesson is part of the Body Idioms series of idioms lessons.

Categories: Idioms | Vocabulary

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Lip Idioms

Learn some common British English idioms with this lesson from Britlish. The idioms are: Pay lip service, Lick your lips, Bite your lip, Give someone lip, My lips are sealed, Smack lips, Slip of the lip, Tight-lipped, Lock lips, Pass my lips, Stiff upper lip, A bit lippy, Read my lips, Loose lips, Button your lip, and On everyone’s lips. This lesson is part of the Body Idioms series at

Categories: Idioms | Vocabulary

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