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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > English Idioms which use the word ´EARTH ´    

English Idioms which use the word ´EARTH ´

United Kingdom

English Idioms which use the word ´EARTH ´

Dear Epit,

You asked for ‘Earth Idioms’ in English. Here are some.

“What ‘on earth’ are you doing?” = When we add ‘on earth’ to a question, it makes the question EMPHATIC, and usually indicates our surprise, irritation, or amusement.

“How on earth did you climb up there?” asks the Mam, to the child sitting on top of the wardrobe.

Down-to-earth = practical, sensible, no-nonsense, dealing with FACTS, not theories.

“She’s a down-to-earth woman. She doesn’t believe in horoscopes, and things like that”.

To come down to earth = To abandon ‘dreams in the sky’, and FACE REALITY.

“When Peter left University, he came down to earth with a bump, because he had to start earning some money”.

To bring someone down to earth = To FORCE someone to abandon ‘dreams in the sky’, and FACE REALITY.

“Peter had some expensive ideas on how to improve the factory, but his new Boss soon brought him down to earth”.

Like nothing on earth.’ (A colloquial expression) = HORRIBLE, awful, terrible. (It is used with verbs such as ‘to look; to feel; to smell; to taste; to sound).

“Tom, you look like nothing on earth in those red trousers, that green jacket, that Panama hat, and those stupid spotted boots”.

The salt of the earth = The BEST people on earth.

“She will do anything, go anywhere, give anything to someone who needs help. She is the salt of the earth.

To disappear off the face of the earth = to DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY.

“After University, I didn’t hear anything from my best friend Bill. He just disappeared off the face of the earth”.

To move heaven and earth = To do EVERYTHING possible to achieve something.

“I want to be a Pop-star! I’ll do ANYTHING! I’ll move heaven and earth to sing on TV”.

Heaven on earth= Something EXTREMELY GOOD.

“My Mother’s food is fantastic! Her fruit cake is heaven on earth!”

To go to earth/ground= When someone is being followed, pursued, or stalked, and he/she HIDES in a safe refuge.

“The actor escaped from the journalists by going to earth/ground in a house in the forest.

To run someone to earth/ground= After a search, to DISCOVER where the escaped person is hiding.

“The journalists eventually ran the actor to earth/ground in a house in the forest”.

When something costs ‘the earth’ = It was very, very, very EXPENSIVE!

“Oh, darling, this diamond ring is beautiful. You must have paid the earth for it!”

The four corners of the earth = EVERY PART of the world.

“The Olympic athletes came to London from the four corners of the earth.”

Hell on earth = Something which is VERY UNPLEASANT.

“At school many bullies punched, kicked, and taunted me every day. My life was hell on earth.”

‘Not to have an earthly’ or ‘Not to have an earthly chance = To have NO POSSIBILITY of success.

“He intends to race against Olympic Champions, but he hasn’t trained for it. He won’t have an earthly!” (“He won’t have an earthly chance!”)

No earthly reason = NO REASON at all, (usually said in irritation).

“There’s no earthly reason why you should give your boy-friend money. He has an EXCELLENT salary, and YOU are still at College!”

The scum of the earth = The VERY WORST type of people.

“The farmer starved and beat his faithful old dog. People like him are the scum of the earth”.

Follow to the ends of the earth = To travel as far as it is POSSIBLE to go.

“The wife loved her sailor husband very much. She was willing to follow him to the ends of the earth”.

I hope that these are of use to someone.

Les Douglas

14 Apr 2017      


Dear Les,
You are the salt of the earth. 
Thank you indeed for spending your time and sharing your knowledge so generously. I couldn´t help copying your post into a doc. Also numbered and highlighted the idioms. It´s really exciting to compare English idioms with their equivalents in my native language. I am far from the top at English and I definitely can learn a lot from your posts. 
P.S. Where on earth had you been for such a long time? No wonder that many people welcomed you back so warmly!

14 Apr 2017     

maryse peyé

Dear Les,
Your posts are so useful !
May I suggest, if you have enough time of course !, to share with us a worksheet with all your expressions ?
I am sure that a lot of us will keep them preciously ! For us in a very 1st time, then to share with our students !
How better than to learn from people so happy to teach us and, as far as I ´m concerned, I feel, I DO feel happy when I learn something new.
Millions of hugs my dear friend.

14 Apr 2017     

United States

Yes, Les, many people would benefit from these being made into printables, and with very little effort on your part.

14 Apr 2017     


Les, you are amazing!
I think a selection of worksheets is an excellent idea.

14 Apr 2017     


Thanks millions.I saved .I learned a lot. Thanks again.

15 Apr 2017     


Thank you very much. They are really very useful and interesting. I agree also with other members that making them into printables will make a bigger number of people use them and benefit from them.

15 Apr 2017     


Thanks a lot! :)

15 Apr 2017     

United Kingdom

Definitely going to make a worksheet based on this. Thanks for your hard work.

16 Apr 2017     


Are we all waiting  a useful worksheet from here?

16 Apr 2017     

United Kingdom

Dear Members,
Thank you all for your complimentary remarks. 
I am already in the process of preparing a Series of Worksheets on English Idioms, (although I am ´up to my eyes ´ in teaching). [´Constantly working ´]
The reason I have put these Idioms on the Forum is to help ALL Members ... Teachers and Students alike.
I know from P.M ´s I have received from tearful Members, that many young, (and not so young), teachers/students try desperately to earn 30 Points, but fail. In addition, some teachers don ´t have Printers, Paper, regular access to a Computer, or even Electricity. Sadly, they are sometimes excluded from these wonderful Worksheets. How do I know? From private conversations with Students from all over the world, and from P.Ms that I have received from ESLP Members!
I, and many of you, we are all SO VERY FORTUNATE!
In my own little way, I am trying to repay the kindnesses that were so generously bestowed upon me, a desperately insecure, unhappy, unsuccessful Student, by one or two loving, dedicated Teachers.
Les Douglas 

16 Apr 2017