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31 interesting wood idioms

Wood idioms

Here is a fun collection of wood idioms in the English language. This can be helpful to ESL learners and teachers who want to introduce some colorful and fun expressions to their students.

The wood idioms are –


1 – Accept a wooden nickel

If you accept a wooden nickel you are tricked, cheated, scammed, or conned. This is often but not always used in regard to money.

Example – Be careful when you go to buy a new motorbike, don’t accept a wooden nickel.

2 – As deaf as a post

This simile describes someone as being very deaf and not able to hear well.

Example – It is really hard to talk to my grandfather on the telephone, he is as deaf as a post!

3 – As easy as falling off a log

We use as easy as falling off a log to express that something is very easy and simple to do.

Example – My mother taught me how to fry an egg, it’s as easy as falling off a log.

4 – As strong as an oak

We use this expression to say that someone or something is very strong, tough, and long-lasting.

Example – The boat that they built is as strong as an oak, it can sail through very dangerous waters.

5 – As thick as a plank (also as dumb as a post)

This is used to describe someone as not very intelligent.

Example – I gave him directions to the restaurant but he still can’t find it, he’s as thick as a plank!

6 – Backwoods

The backwoods refers to a rural or countryside place that is a long way from developed towns and cities.

Example – He loves living in the backwoods of Montana and goes fishing and hunting every day.

7 – Blend into the woodwork

This means to disappear, act in a way that avoids attention, become unnoticeable, or hide.

Example – The thief walked into the crowd and blended into the woodwork to avoid the police

8 – Bump on a log

A person who is like a bump on a log isn’t moving or being active.

Example – Jenny was like a bump on a log at the party, she didn’t dance or talk to anyone.

deaf as a post idiom

Wood idioms part 2

9 – Can’t see the wood for the trees

If a person cannot see the wood (or forest) for the trees they are not aware of the bigger picture and can’t see more important aspects. This is because they are too focused on minor details or are too close to a problem that stops them from understanding clearly.

Example – She thinks she will make money quickly with that idea but if she does it slowly she will make a lot more. She can’t see the wood for the trees.

10 – Come out of the woodwork

This means for something or someone to appear suddenly. This can also mean to happen in large numbers. This can also be said as to crawl out of the woodwork.

Example – Nobody helped him when he was poor but now that he has won the lottery people are coming out of the woodwork to be his friend.

11 – Could sell sawdust to a lumber mill

This idiom refers to a person who is so persuasive or convincing that they could get a person to buy something that they in no way at all need.

Example – The new salesman is making a lot of money already, he could sell sawdust to a lumber mill.

12 – Deadwood

A thing or person that is deadwood is longer useful and wanted around.

Example – The new director of the company wants to cut all the deadwood and hire faster workers to make it more profitable.

13 – Go against the grain

Something that goes against the grain is hard for people to accept because it conflicts with their usual beliefs or way of life. It is unusual or the opposite of what somebody thinks is correct.

Example – The protesters are really going against the grain of most people in the city, we don’t believe in their cause.

14 – Head for tall timber

This means to run away and hide. It is associated with going into a forest to flee.

Example – When the police came looking for them they headed to tall timber to escape.

15 – Heart of oak

A person who has a heart of oak is very strong emotionally and mentally. It can also mean to be courageous.

Example – She has had a hard life since her parents have been in hospital but she has a heart of oak and keeps going.

16 – Knock on wood

This is said and done at the same time as an act of superstition. It is thought to both stop misfortune and bring good luck. The expression “touch wood” is also said and acted out for the same reason.

Hopefully, the storm will pass tomorrow and we can finally catch a plane home, knock on wood.

saw wood idiom

Wood idioms part 3

17 – Lumber along

To lumber along is to move forward or walk in a slow, heavy, or awkward manner. This could be to tiredness or lack of motivation.

Example – The work crew lumbered along in the scorching hot afternoon heat.

18 – Ride the pine

This wood idiom is about being in a sports team but not actually playing. It is connected to sitting on a bench (made of pinewood) and just watching.

Example – The team doesn’t really Joe is a good player, they make him sit there and ride the pine every week.

19 – Saw wood

This funny idiom refers to sleeping well and in particular snoring which can make the sound of sawing wood.

Example – Paul has fallen asleep on the couch again, I can hear him sawing wood from the kitchen.

20 – Sawed-off

This expression means to be angry or very annoyed.

Example – I feel really sawed-off this morning, my neighbors had a loud party last night and I couldn’t sleep at all.

21 – Shiver me timbers

This is used to express shock and astonishment. It is iconically associated with pirates and waves and cannon balls hitting wooden ships.

Example – Shiver me timbers, there has been a car accident down the road.

22 – Sleep like a log

If you sleep like a like you sleep very deeply and are not disturbed or wake up in the night.

Example – After doing all that hard work in the garden I am going to sleep like a log tonight.

23 – Splinter up

Something that splinters up breaks up into smaller pieces and sometimes results in its complete destruction.

Example- After the war, the country splintered up into different regions of people.

24 – Timber toe

This term is now outdated with the development of modern prosthetic limbs. It is however quite interesting and simply means a wooden leg.

Example – The old pirate made a loud tapping sound as he hobbled along the ship on his timber toe.

win the wooden spoon idiom

Wood idioms part 4

25 – Walk the plank

To Walk the plank is to suffer punishment from someone or be forced to accept something you don’t want. This expression originates from pirate executions where people were forced to walk off a plank into the sea with their hands tied together and sometimes blindfolded.

Example – The company made the employees walk the plank and take a lower salary.

26 – Wear the willow

This is an English idiom to describe a person experiencing extreme sadness or is grieving.

Example – The poor lady, her husband died last week and now she is wearing the willow.

27 – A willow in the wind

This is used to describe a person who often changes their opinions and beliefs. This is usually because they are easily led and swayed by other people’s influence.

Example – She is a bit of a willow in the wind, in the last year she has changed her religion, become a vegetarian, and started hanging out with strange people.

28 – Win the wooden spoon

To win the wooden spoon is to finish last in a race or competition.

Example – My football team played terribly this year, we won the wooden spoon.

29 – Wood butcher

This is slang for a carpenter, a person who makes things out of wood. It can also be used to describe a badly skilled carpenter.

Example – What kind of wood butcher built that table for you? It’s terrible.

30 – Wooden kimono

This is an old wood idiom that refers to a coffin for dead people. Other expressions with the same meaning include – wooden overcoat, pine overcoat, and wooden suit.

Example – If John doesn’t stop smoking cigarettes he’ll be wearing a wooden kimono soon.

31 – Wooden nutmeg

This is an old US expression that can be used to describe something that is worthless or fake. This originates from swindlers selling fake nutmegs made out of wood in North America in the 1800s to naive people for profit.

Example – I’m sorry to say that the antique vase you bought is a wooden nutmeg. It is probably only around 1 year old.

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