JAMB Idioms For 2023 | English Idiomatic Expression and Meaning With PDF

Welcome to Edustuff, where we provide you with essential information for your JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board) preparations.

In this blog post, we will explore 30 common idiomatic expressions that you may encounter in the JAMB Use of English section.

Understanding idioms can significantly enhance your performance in the exam. Additionally, we have provided a downloadable PDF file for your convenience.

  1. Call a spade a spade: To state the truth about something, even if it’s unpopular or unpleasant. Example: “I know he’s your brother, but let’s call a spade a spade: he’s pretty lazy.”
  2. Call it a day: To stop working on something. Example: “It’s almost 9 pm. I think we should call it a day and finish the report tomorrow.”
  3. Cheap as chips: When something is inexpensive or good value for money. Example: “It doesn’t look it, but our new sofa was (as) cheap as chips!”
  4. Chinese whispers: Information or rumors that have been passed on by many people and are no longer reliable. Example: “John and Maggie from the office haven’t actually announced they’re getting a divorce. It’s probably just Chinese whispers.”
  5. Chip on one’s shoulder: To hold a grudge or be angry about something that happened in the past, or to be arrogant and think too highly of oneself. Example: “Whenever we mention his childhood, he gets really angry. He’s got a chip on his shoulder about it.”
  6. Clam up: To become silent or stop talking. Example: “When Bill came into the room, Jenny just seemed to clam up. I think she likes him!”
  7. Cold feet: To get nervous or have second thoughts about doing something. Example: “He’s getting cold feet about the wedding, but I told him that was perfectly normal.”
  8. A blessing in disguise: Something that appears bad at first but ends up having good results. Example: “Missing that plane turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I got to spend more time with my family.”
  9. A sandwich short of a picnic: A humorous way of saying someone is stupid or a bit mad. Example: “He brought only shorts and t-shirts when he went to Sweden in the winter – I think he might be a sandwich short of a picnic!”
  10. A stone’s throw: Something is very close or near. Example: “Luckily, the wedding is just a stone’s throw from our hotel, so we can walk there.”
  11. Actions speak louder than words: What you do is more important than what you say; someone’s words may not be trustworthy. Example: Person A: “John keeps saying he wants to take me out for dinner, but then he never does!” Person B: “Actions speak louder than words.”
  12. Add fuel to the fire: When someone does something to make a bad situation worse. Example: “When Sarah started laughing during the argument, it really added fuel to the fire!”
  13. Add insult to injury: To make a bad situation worse. Example: “As if breaking my arm isn’t bad enough, to add insult to injury, I have to pay £1,000 in hospital fees as I didn’t have travel insurance!”
  14. All ears: To be eagerly waiting to hear about something. Example: Person A: “I have to tell you about what happened on our trip to Spain…” Person B: “I’m all ears!”
  15. At a crossroads: To be at a point in your life when you need to make an important decision. Example: “I was at a crossroads when I was offered a job in the US, but my boyfriend wanted to stay in London.”
  16. Barking up the wrong tree: To be wrong or misguided about the reason for something. Example: “He thinks the company’s problems can be solved just by firing the sales team, but he’s barking up the wrong tree.”
  17. Beat about the bush: To talk about unimportant things because you’re avoiding a particular topic. Example: “Stop beating about the bush! Are you planning to quit university, or not?”
  18. Better late than never: It’s better to do something late than not at all. Example: Person A: “Sorry I missed your birthday! There’s a card in the post.” Person B: “Don’t worry. Better late than never!”
  19. Between a rock and a hard place: To be in a difficult situation where both options are bad. Example: Person A: “If I go to the wedding, Mum will be upset, but if I don’t go, then I’ll be letting down the rest of the family!” Person B: “Sounds like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place.”
  20. Bite off more than one can chew: To do too much or take something on that is too difficult. Example: Person A: “I’m going to start that weekend job at the museum on top of my full-time job because I really need the money.” Person B: “Sounds like a lot of work! Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”


These are just a few examples of idiomatic expressions that you may encounter in the JAMB Use of English section.

Understanding these idioms and their meanings will greatly enhance your performance in the exam.

Remember to practice using them in sentences to familiarize yourself with their usage. We hope this post has been helpful to you in your JAMB 2023 preparations. For more information and a downloadable PDF file of these idioms, visit our website. Good luck with your exams!

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