Idioms for Idiots

Learn absurd well known sayings in the English language

MORGAN LESTER, Evergreen columnist

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

This idiom is a reference to investments. It means you should hold onto to the advantages you have now instead of giving them up to get something better.

As early as the 14th century, it is suggested that this idiom originated with the invention of falconry, in which the bird you used was worth more than the prey it caught, according to and

Its earliest literary origin came in the book “A Hand-book of Proverbs,” written by John Ray.

Blowing smoke

“To blow smoke” means to conceal, pretend or obscure the reality of a situation, motive or truth.

According to, this saying most likely came from old magicians, who would use large puffs of smoke in their tricks to divert the attention of the audience or hide the working of a trick from the audience.

Turn a blind eye

To “turn a blind eye” means to not acknowledge a truth, event or situation occurring in plain sight.

The most accepted origin for this idiom comes from British Admiral Horatio Nelson, according to Kate Lohnes’ article “7 Everyday English Idioms and Where They Come From,” at

In 1801, when a fellow admiral told Nelson to retreat from the Battle of Copenhagen, Nelson responded by pretending to not see the flags the admiral was using to communicate with the him due to his blind eye, because he believed the battle could be won if they continued their attack, Lohnes wrote.

Spilling the beans

You know what this means.

According to Lohnes, the origin for this idiom is said to come from the voting practices of the ancient Greeks. When voting in their elections, they used two different colored beans, with each color representing a different choice, and inserted them into a vase. Thus, to spill the beans then meant to reveal the results of the vote before the intended time.