Earth and Environment Idioms

A background of blue sky and mountains with a green hill and a person with a bike in the foreground

In celebration of this Friday’s Earth Day, this week on the blog, we are looking at some useful earth and environment themed idioms. At the bottom of the blog, you can practise using them with a fill-in-the-gaps exercise and some discussion questions to get you thinking.

Don’t forget to download your handy Earth and Environment Idioms Cheat Sheet at the bottom of the blog.

1. (to be) out of the woods

When you are past the difficult or dangerous part of a process and you are now safe, you are ‘out of the woods’.

“He seems to be recovering well from the surgery, but we aren’t out of the woods yet.”

2. go to the ends of the earth for (someone)

If you would go to the ends of the earth for someone, you would go to extreme measures or do absolutely anything for them, or to make them happy.

“In his wedding vows he said that he would go to the ends of the earth for his wife.”

3. can’t see the forest for the trees

If you can’t see the forest for the trees, you are too focused on the small details of something to be able to see the bigger picture.

“I think we need to take a step back from the project and look at it with fresh eyes in a few days. I’m worried that we can’t see the forest for the trees and are going to end up making decisions which will be costly in the future.”

4. a drop in the ocean

A drop in the ocean is a tiny amount compared with what is needed or expected.

“John has started to pay me back the money he owes, but really it’s just a drop in the ocean.”

5. don’t beat around the bush

To beat around the bush is to not give a straight answer, to waste time or to avoid answering a question.

“My boss never gives a straight answer when we ask about budgets. It is very frustrating. He is always beating around the bush!”

6. (to be) down-to-earth

A person who is down-to-earth is humble, nice and an all-round good person.

“Even though he’s a worldwide superstar, he’s so down-to-earth!”

7. neck of the woods

Your ‘neck of the woods’ is the area where you live.

“There’s a new café opening in your neck of the woods, isn’t there? We should check it out some time.”

8. (to be) green-fingered or have a green thumb

Someone who is green-fingered or has a green thumb is good at gardening and looking after plants.

“Gardening is one of my hobbies. I got it from my Grandmother. She had a green thumb and was always out tending her garden.”

Fill in the spaces

Fill in the spaces with an earth and environment idiom from the list above.

  1. “I will __________ to make sure this birthday party is a success!”
  2. “My aunt has a _______. Her garden is beautiful!”
  3.  “I’m going to be in your __________ on Friday. Do you fancy meeting up for a coffee?”
  4. “I get on with her really well. She’s so funny and _______.”
  5. “Stop ______ and just tell us what’s wrong!”
  6.  “Mike is getting obsessed with the tiny details of the presentation and forgetting about the message we want to convey. He _______.”
  7.  “The company went through some bad times financially due to the pandemic, but fortunately we are _________ now.”
  8.  “The donation is generous, but it is just a _______ compared to the amount we need to be able to make a difference.”

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you have any similar idioms to the ones above in your native language?
  2. Who is someone who you would go to the ends of the earth for?
  3. If you have a problem or a complaint, do you find it easy to go straight to the point and speak your mind, or do you often beat around the bush?
  4. Can you think of a celebrity who seems down-to-earth? Why do you think so?
  5. Some people say that reducing our use of plastic bags is just a drop in the ocean in the fight against climate change. Do you agree? 
  6.  What are some of the things you can find in your neck of the woods?
  7. Do you have a green thumb? Do you know someone who does?

Bonus Question

  • Have you ever heard the expression “The grass is always greener on the other side”? What do you think this means? Do you agree?

Download your Earth and Environment Idioms Cheat Sheet right here.

For more resources which combine ESL with sustainability and environmental awareness we recommend checking out Renewable English.

Post your answers below, or why not book a lesson with an Intrepid English Teacher to practising using these idioms in a conversation? Intrepid English members can study more useful idioms for everyday life in our Essential English Idioms course in the Intrepid English Academy.

This content was written and recorded by Intrepid English Teacher Kate B.

You can find out more about Kate B on her Intrepid English Teacher Profile Page.

Book a free trial lesson today to discuss this topic in more detail, and talk about your English learning goals with an experienced and friendly English teacher.

If you have any questions, or you would like to request a topic for a future blog, you can contact us using the chat box, send us an email, or even drop us a message on any of our social media channels.

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