First, learning idioms is a sure-fire way to sound more like a native speaker of English and is generally fun to learn. Learning typical health idioms can be helpful when speaking about general events such as going to the doctor or about your new routine at the gym.
Another reason to learn health idioms in English is to interact with others in small talk. Most small talk revolves around asking someone how they are or how someone else is. “How’s your mother doing?” or “How have you been?” are common small talk questions. Learning a way to respond as a native speaker can be easily done with idioms.
- Out of Shape
- As Fit as a Fiddle
- A Clean Bill of Health
- A Picture of Health
- As Pale as a Ghost
- To Have a Frog in One’s Throat
- As Sick as a Dog
- Under the Weather
- Under the Knife
- Alive and Kicking
- To Have a Spring in your Step
- To Turn your/my Stomach
- To Be Back on Your Feet
- To have a New Lease on Life
- A Bitter Pill to Swallow
1. Out of Shape
Simply enough, this idiom means that you or someone you are referring to are perhaps physically unfit and could spend some time doing more activity. So how would this idiom be used?
- “How was the hiking trip?”
- “It was a lot of fun but I realize I am really out of shape.”
2. As Fit as a Fiddle
What’s the opposite of being out of shape, you ask? Well, that being “as fit as a fiddle”. This is typically someone who is in great health and physical health and is also usually a very active individual.
- “Well doctor, how is my health?”
- “Your health is great! It seems that you are fit as a fiddle!”
3. A Clean Bill of Health
Once the doctor has finished a health exam or procedure and finds that you are indeed healthy, the doctor may use the phrase “a clean bill of health”. This also can be used as an idiom towards objects. For example, if you took your car to a mechanic and repairs were made, the mechanic may say that the car now has a “clean bill of health”.
- “How did my x-ray look, doctor?”
- “Everything is fine. I give you a clean bill of health.”
4. A Picture of Health
How else can you describe yourself or someone who is in amazing health and physical health? You or the person that you are describing could look like they are in amazing condition to properly use this idiom. Using this idiom is more of a description of someone’s visual appearance.
- “Wow! You can tell you have been eating really healthy. . You are the picture of health!”
- “I have been working out so much lately. I am the picture of health.”
5. As Pale as a Ghost
If someone were feeling unwell there may be an opportunity to use this idiom. Typically, if a person happens to feel nauseous or sick in some way, they are often very pale. Using the phrase “as pale as a ghost” would describe someone based on being pale in this case.
- “Hey! Are you okay? You are as pale as a ghost.”
- “I just feel very sick.”
6. To Have a Frog in One’s Throat
Not to be taken too literally, a “frog in one’s throat” means that they most likely have a sore throat from a cold or other illness. The person with the frog in their throat may find it difficult to speak clearly or with a raspy sound (It sounds a lot like a croaking sound that a frog makes).
- “Are you sick? It sounds like there is a frog in your throat.”
- “My throat hurts so much! When I talk it sounds like a frog in my throat.”
7. As Sick as a Dog
This is a very commonly used idiom to describe being very sick. Most often though, this phrase is used when a person is vomiting or having severe nausea and not so much just having a runny nose. Just like the idiom “as pale as a ghost”, there is the use of a simile in this phrase.
- “I think I have food poisoning. I am sick as a dog after eating that pizza.”
- “My friend told me you have been sick as a dog. I hope you feel better soon.”
8. Under the Weather
This one can be a little confusing as it is using “to be under” as a preposition. To be “under the weather” is another very common idiom that is used to describe a non-serious illness. This could be something as small as having cold or other small sicknesses.
- “I won’t be able to go shopping with you today. I am feeling under the weather today.”
- “I’m sorry I missed class yesterday. I was feeling under the weather.”
9. Under the Knife
This idiom can sound incredibly scary and in some cases, it can be. To use the phrase “go under the knife” means that you or the person you are referring to is going to have some type of surgery. Because this can be a serious situation, the word knife is used to amplify the implied seriousness.
- “I am nervous because the doctor said that I will have to go under the knife next week.”
- “John is doing much better after having to go under the knife in an emergency.”
10. Alive and Kicking
This idiom is a lot of fun because it can be used to describe so many things and not just a person. It can describe a person, an object, or an animal! To use this phrase is to describe something as being functional or working that may have not been in the recent past.
- “My father’s old car is still alive and kicking since he made those repairs.”
- “My grandmother is doing well. She’s still alive and kicking!”
11. To Have a Spring in your Step
When you think about a spring, you may think of jumping or some sort of energetic movement. To think of someone with a spring in their step describes a person who is feeling well, great, excited, or happy. When we feel our best it seems as though we have a bounce or spring in our step and the world is right, doesn’t it?
- “You seem happy today! There is a spring in your step!”
- “I feel great today! There is a spring in my step and a song in my heart!”
12. To Turn your/my Stomach
Do you see, hear, or smell something that just makes you feel sick or nauseous? That sudden or immediate feeling is classified as stomach-turning or to have one’s stomach turn as a result of seeing/hearing/smelling something.
- “The smell of that food turns my stomach. I think I may be sick.”
- “This news about my grandmother is turning my stomach. I hope she’ll be okay.”
13. To Be Back on Your Feet
To use this idiom, usually means that the person being referred to was at one point not in good health or perhaps had an injury. To mention that someone is “back on their feet” means that they have successfully recovered and are feeling better.
- “Having a broken foot was tough but I am back on my feet now and feeling much better.”
- “I heard that she was having a hard time while she had the flu but I think she is back on her feet now.”
14. To Have a New Lease on Life
You may hear this idiom being used after someone has been through something very tough or challenging. This means that a person has had a change of mindset or attitude in life. This is a positive way of saying that someone has changed their mindset for the better as it may have previously been.
- “After my battle with cancer, I have a new lease on life and put my health first.”
- “With my new lease on life, I find time to meditate and relax now.”
15. A Bitter Pill to Swallow
This idiom can be used in a more general sense and is highly figurative. A bitter pill to swallow is used when we or someone has come to a difficult conclusion or realization about something. Most often it’s is used to describe the difficulty of accepting something also.
- “Knowing that my health was in such poor condition was a hard pill to swallow.”
- “Being told that I need surgery was a hard pill to swallow. I am very nervous about having the procedure done.”
Have you heard any of these idioms in conversation with someone before? Some of these idioms are straight and to the point however some sound strange if not explained. Now that you have learned fifteen of the top health and wellness idioms in English, you can easily practice using these in everyday conversations.
Let’s see how many idioms you are able to use now that you have learned them.
- What idiom(s) would you use to describe not feeling well?
- How would you describe your physical health?
- Congrats! You are feeling better! How would you tell someone in a conversation that you are now feeling much better?