reptile idioms image

17 curious reptile idioms

Reptile idioms

Here are some curious reptile idioms in the English language. Reptiles are a fascinating group of animals that are usually cold-blooded and lay eggs.

  1. Cold-blooded
  2. Crocodile tears
  3. Dragon mouth
  4. Flat out like a lizard drinking
  5. If it was a snake it would have bit you
  6. Like fighting snakes
  7. A lounge lizard
  8. A moment in the sun
  9. A Serpent’s tongue
  10. To snake along
  11. Snake eyes
  12. A snake in the grass
  13. A snake oil salesman
  14. A snakepit
  15. Tickle the dragon’s tail
  16. Thick skin
  17. To turn turtle


Now, here are the idioms about reptiles with meanings and examples.


1- Cold-blooded is used to describe people who seem to have no conscience or emotions for others. It is most often used to describe violent criminals who commit acts in cold blood.

Example – She committed the crime in cold blood and was sentenced to life in prison.


2 – A person has crocodile tears when they pretend to cry or over-exaggerate sadness or crying.

Example – The politician wept crocodile tears when telling the public he was sorry.


3 – If you have dragon mouth or dragon breath, you have terribly bad-smelling breath.

Example – You should brush your teeth, I can smell your dragon breath from over here!


4 – The Australian idiom to be flat out like a lizard drinking, means to do something very quickly or to be very busy.

Example – I didn’t have time to eat lunch at work today, I was working flat out like a lizard drinking.


5 – A person might say “If it was a snake it would have bit you” if you are looking for something that is right in front of you and not hard to find.

Example – “Have you seen my phone?” It is right next to you on the sofa, if it was a snake it would have bit you.”


6 – Something that is very difficult to control, manage or organize can be said to be like fighting snakes.

Example – Trying to get the preschool children to sit quietly in a circle is like fighting snakes.

submerged crocodile reptile

7 – A Lounge lizard is a man who often visits bars and clubs. This can also be used to describe musicians who play out of these venues.

Example – He works in the music shop during the week but on weekends he is a lounge lizard at the local clubs.


8 – If you have a moment in the sun, you have a small period of time where you are successful or popular and things in life are better than usual. Much like a reptile happily lying in the sun.

Example – The pop band had their moment in the sun when their song made the top 10 in the music charts.


9 – Someone with a serpent’s tongue has the habit of speaking in a nasty or bad way that hurts other people.

Example – He hates visiting his wife’s family, his mother-in-law has a serpent’s tongue.


10 – To snake along means to move in a winding direction, much as a snake does when it slithers.

Example – The road snaking along the side of the mountains is fun for motorbike riding.


11 – If you throw two dice and get a pair of ones, they are known as snake eyes. They are generally considered to be unlucky by gamblers.

Example – He was playing craps at the casino when he threw snake eyes and lost all his money.


12 -A snake in the grass is a negative reptile idiom that is used to describe a person who you thought was your friend who betrays you.

Example – John is a snake in the grass, he pretended to be my friend and then he stole my cell phone.

a chameleon reptile

13 – A snake oil salesman is a person not to be trusted because they sell something that is useless or doesn’t do what it is supposed to do.

Example – That travel agent sold fake airline tickets, what a snake oil salesman!


14 – A snakepit can be used to describe a place that is fiercely competitive and people’s desire to succeed leads them to treat each other in a bad way. It can also be used to describe a chaotic place and in the past was used as slang for mental hospitals.

Example – Don’t take a job in that company, it is a total snakepit, everyone is nasty to each other.


15 – If you tickle the dragon’s tail, you do something risky that could go completely wrong. It can also mean to annoy a person who gets angry easily.

Example – The teacher looks very tired today, don’t tickle the dragon’s tail or we will end up with extra homework.


16 – A person with thick skin doesn’t get upset when other people criticize or talk badly about them.

Example – The football manager continued to do his job and didn’t worry about his team’s supporters booing him.


17 – To turn turtle means to turn upside down.

Example –  The fishermen were at sea when a big storm arrived and big waves caused their ship to turn turtle.


There are also many reptile similes. Check out the big list of animal similes for examples of them. For a related speaking activity, there are the reptile conversation questions. If you are looking for something arty and crafty there are the detailed lizard coloring pages.

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