Year of the Pig 2019: When pigs fly, pigging out and other piggy idioms to learn this Chinese New Year


From eating messily to bad behaviour, the mud-loving creatures have long had an influence on the English language

Susan Ramsay |

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Westerners dont have a high opinion of pigs, unfortunately, so we find a lot of English idioms to do with pigs are rather negative. You might not want to tell your teacher he looks like a pig. 

Heres how the mud-loving animals can help to make your English writing shine.

Idioms and phrases

Eat like a pig  - to eat without any table manners, greedily and messily. 

Pig out - to eat way too much.

Act like a pig - to be rude and nasty.

It’s the pigs - people of a certain age in the US refer to police as pigs. You should not.

As fat as a pig - pigs used to be prized for being fat and juicy. But its just not polite to say that someone is fat as a pig.

Pig in a poke - In the old days, piglets used to be sold in sacks at farmers markets. But not all salesmen were honest and sometimes, instead of a piglet, there would be a cat in the bag. So if you have bought a pig in a poke, youve bought something you didnt realise was going to be bad, and now theres not much you can do about it. (By the way, if you let the cat out of the bag”, you reveal some information you were not meant to share. For example, if your friends are planning a surprise party and you tell someone about it, youve let the cat out of the bag.)

Cast pearls before swine - this expression comes to us from the Bible and it means that you shouldn’t waste good things on people who will not appreciate them. So if your violinist friend plays a complicated piece of music and people laugh at him, he could say the he was casting pearls before swine.

23 time idioms to make your writing more interesting

Swine - To call someone a swine is not polite.

Road hog - Someone who drives fast and dangerously.

To go the whole hog - to “go the whole hog” is to spare no effort to do something.

To hog something - to use too much of something when someone else wants it. Your little brother is hogging the PlayStation when you want a game.

When pigs fly - Yep, thats never going to happen. When someone says to you that youll score an A on all your exams, you might say When pigs fly.

Lipstick on a pig - When you have something ugly and you spend a lot of money trying to make to it look beautiful, someone might say you're putting lipstick on a pig.

20 useful food idioms to spice up your writing​

Bringing home the bacon - Earn the money that supports the family.

Ham it up - To overact something. To call an actor a “ham” means they are not very convincing.

Ham radio - Ham radio is an amateur radio that could pick up international stations and sometimes allow people to talk to each other.

You cant make a silk purse from a sows ear - A sow is a female pig. Were not sure why anyone would want to use sow ears to make a purse, but apparently they thought it was a good idea, and the fashion world hated it. People use this expression to mean that someone who is not up to a job will never be good at it, no matter how much training they recieve.

20 English idioms about people and places to help you write better

Long pig - Cannibals, apparently, referred to people as “long pig” because, apparently, human flesh tastes like pork. We hope we never find out.

Pig in a blanket - Hotdogs wrapped in pastry.

Slippery as a greased pig - In some places, people hold competitions to catch a pig. The pig would be covered in butter or oil to make it harder to hold on to.