Useful American Phrases For Foreigners



If you grow up listening to a particular phrase or phrase all the time, it’s easy to overlook how weird the phrase is. This is the case with many Americans. We are so accustomed to pronunciation that we are so familiar with pronunciation that we forget that there is no meaning or that linguists have to connect by differentiating the original meaning. 

Outsiders may often be needed to point out the weirdness of some American phrases, a foreigner who can surprise gossip with phrases that many take for granted in the United States.  You must have to know about these phrases before visiting the US. Here are some useful American expressions that confuse non-Americans.

American phrases for foreigners you Must Know

Piece of Cake

It’s not a piece of cake is One of the most famous American expressions. The meaning of this phrase is it’s not that easy as it looks.

 “When I started school when I was in the second grade, my teacher (obviously) asked a question,” a German-born Reddit user wrote about his first visit to the United States. “I’ve heard everyone say it’s a piece of cookie, and I’ve always wondered where this cake is for a long time. Expand your vocabulary by adding 30 fun words every day to your speech.

Put lipstick on a pig

This strange colloquial language that enhances something ugly or imperfect makes sense when explaining to someone from the outside, but J.R. Thorpe by Bustle: “One of the main reasons others in the world think American politics is weird is because we often don’t understand what your politicians are saying. For example, they seem to have a fairly intuitive meaning, but I like this strange American phrase that makes sense to small owners and sellers of Avon. “

It’s not rocket science

It’s a way of explaining something with an exaggerated explanation of what isn’t “not a big fan” or “this is not rocket science.” But an outsider in the United States could ask him, “What does the missile have to do with it?”

Break A Leg

This phrase came from an American play. Actors exchange superstitious idioms to wish for a great performance. It was first published in American newspapers in 1948.

The interesting thing about this phrase is that many believe it originates from the German proverb Hals-und Beinbruch that the neck and leg were broken. Others believe that it is a distorted version of the hatzlachh u-brah, which in Hebrew means blessing, success, and blessing. He was able to enter the American vocabulary through the Jewish language spoken by Jewish actors who migrated to the United States.

Ballpark figure

English phrases are related to sports, but economic terms are important. Approximate figures are used by Americans to provide approximate figures. It comes from baseball, a favorite hobby of Americans. When the batter hits the ball outside of the baseball diamond, it is difficult to know exactly how far the ball has gone out of bounds.

For the bird

When you hear an American say something is for a bird, it means it’s useless or trivial. It was first used by the US military for plagiarism during World War II. This is a shortened version of the phrase referring to a bird that ate house crackers.

Behind the eight ball

For Americans, the English phrase behind the 8 means that a person is in a difficult situation right now. He gained popularity in the 1930s and was part of the base game. The player behind him was more likely not to hit the ball eight times.

Monday-morning quarterback

This doesn’t mean this guy plays college football on Monday mornings. This refers to someone who likes to make petty assumptions about decisions and actions. Originally used in the 1930s to refer to football fans who want to repeat the strategy of this weekend’s football match.

Do not cry over spilled milk

This is an English phrase that is usually given to people who are angry about an unfair thing or situation. The current form was first used in the 19th century, but writer and historian James Howell said in 1659 that it was because in 1659 it was a much older expression: milk was poured and did not cry.

Table an item

Of course, in American English, this expression has different meanings when American English and English speakers to each other. The word table in American English means setting something aside for consideration at other times. For the British, this expression means discussing issues and making decisions.

Jump on the bandwagon

Americans say P.T. Barnum giving this verse. Getting on the bandwagon means someone is backing up something or engaging in a popular or current activity. It was first used in the 19th century. Although it has become a popular phrase among politicians, its use and popularity have grown in a letter written by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1899 referring to political escape.

Plead the Fifth

This American expression is often used in movies and police dramas. References to the 5th Amendment refer to the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution. The fifth amendment protects individuals from self-discrimination. This generally means a witness who refuses to testify. This is because he can be charged with a crime.

Go Dutch

Americans often go out and eat to become Dutch. Dutch is commonly referred to as Dutch origin, but the term comes from the United States. In 1873, the Baltimore newspaper featured an advertisement for a salon talking about Dutch food policy. This policy meant that all visitors to the salon had to pay for the food they ate.

Nosebleed section

This phrase usually refers to any section that is the longest, highest and cheapest group of seats. This applies to areas of high altitude where people may have nosebleeds.

It’s all downhill from here

This phrase doesn’t mean you will fall. This means that you have overcome the hardest part of the job (because it is very difficult to climb the mountain), now you get drowsy to get the job done and everything is easier.

A dime a dozen

American natives use this phrase to describe things that are common or cheap. In terms of numbers, it doesn’t imply that the product or person they’re referring to is 10 unit or 10 cents, but indicates that it is easy to identify and acquire. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy S20 is dime a dozen in the market. 

Under the weather

US natives say this when the weather acts up and people begin catching cold. The phrase implies that you’re not 100 percent in good health. Some people think this notion comes from the time when sailors got seasick and took shelter in the cabins below deck.

Throws you under the bus

Americans’ use of this phrase indicates that they have been betrayed by someone or a group for marketing.

Ride/riding shotgun

This English phrase doesn’t mean you have to hold a gun. Driving a gun involves a person driving in the passenger seat of a vehicle. It was first published in the Utah newspaper in 1919. The English phrase was inspired by western Hollywood, usually consisting of armed guards with pistols (at the time) sitting next to the driver of the vehicle.

Break a bill

People outside of the United States cannot understand this phrase. When an American asks you to cut a bill, he or she asks you to turn a larger bill into a smaller bill.

John Hancock

This is another American expression. If someone tells you to endanger your John Hancock, it means he wants you to sign. This is the name of an American politician, a magnificent and large signature appearing on the documents of the 1776 U.S. Declaration of Independence.


Around the 19th century, this phrase was used to refer to East-coast city boys who traveled on ranches. Today, it’s typically used to refer to a cool guy or man. As an interjection, the phrase conveys a plethora of meanings, and some people can have entire conversations with just that one phrase. Sounds too good to be true? Start hearing from the Dude (The Big Lebowski), and you’ll know that this isn’t a joke. 

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

It you hear someone say this, it implies that someone they know are taking a decision without thinking about it carefully. In other words, they’re doing something uncommon and out-of-sync. The phrase goes back to the days when horses and carts were a thing. If the cart was placed in front of the hourse, it became difficult to go anywhere. 


English is difficult, and some foreigners get confused with words that only people who speak the same language can understand. This list is not exhaustive, but it is some of the most common phrases made by Americans and is currently used in other linguistic countries. The US is the perfect vacation spot and by using these phrases it would be easy to interact with their people.


How to Organize a Trip to Ischia: Useful Tips

Ischia, known as the "Green Island" of the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a captivating destination that offers a rich blend of natural beauty, thermal relaxation,...

The Top Places to Visit When You Are In Tokyo

Tokyo stands as a bustling metropolis that seamlessly blends tradition with modernity, making it a captivating destination for travelers around the globe. From serene...

A Brief History of the Island of Mykonos in Greece

Nestled in the heart of the Aegean Sea, the island of Mykonos is a jewel of Greece, known for its vibrant nightlife, stunning beaches,...

Recent articles

More like this