Food idioms

Do you know your onions (or which side your bread is buttered)?

Inspired by the shopping bags from a national supermarket, Joy decided to write a short exercise on English food idioms.

(This exercise first appeared in our Autumn 2018 newsletter. We publish our newsletter four times a years. Click here to subscribe.)


In English, we have lots of idioms related to food. Are you familiar with these? Try the exercise. The answers are at the bottom.

[Learning tip: You can find the meaning of all the idioms in this exercise in the Macmillan English Dictionary.]


First, read the examples. Can you identify the idiom?

‘If you’re not sure, just ask David – he really knows his onions when it comes to the new regulations.’

‘By the time we got home, I was exhausted, but the kids were full of beans.’

‘I don’t really like the design of that new office building – it’s just not my cup of tea.’

‘Emma’s ideas are often a bit crazy, but this latest one really takes the biscuit!’

‘Since he was made unemployed, I think Alan’s finding it hard to accept that it’s his wife who’s bringing home the bacon these days, not him.’

‘He spent much more time working on the Chairman’s latest project than ours – he knows which side his bread’s buttered!’


Now, match each idiom on the left with the correct meaning on the right.

1. know your onions a) to earn money to support the family
2. (be) full of beans b) to be the most silly or annoying thing in a series of things
3. not (be) someone’s cup of tea c) to know who to be nice to or what to do in order to gain advantages for yourself
4. take the biscuit d) not to like or consider interesting
5. bring home the bacon e) to have a very good knowledge of a specific subject
6. know which side your bread’s buttered f) to have lots of energy

How many do you think you got right? Check the answers below.



1e; 2f; 3d; 4b; 5a; 6c.


Did you find this useful? We have lots of other articles about English idioms. Click here to see a list.

If you have any questions or comments, leave a reply below.

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