22 Strictly American Phrases That Make Absolutely No Sense To Foreigners

American idioms can be colorful, yet confusing. They can relate to food, football, or even feline friends. While phrases like "shoot the breeze", which means to talk about unimportant things for a long time, and "cold turkey", which means to withdraw from an addictive substance or behavior abruptly, have origins in US slang from centuries past.

Others such as "put up your dukes", meaning to hold your hands up to prepare for a fight, and "throw under a bus", meaning to betray someone for your own gain, can be traced across the pond. We've gathered 22 really interesting sayings for you that may leave foreigners completely stumped. So, without further ado, let's dive straight in! 

22. "A piece of cake" is the term used when you have a reasonably easy or straightforward task ahead of you. We've all used this one at some point. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

21. "It's not rocket science" is used when something is literally a "no brainer" and easy to understand. It could be used when being sarcastic as well.

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

20. "Shoot the breeze" is when Americans talk about unimportant things for a long time. You could say that it's another term for making idle conversation. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

19. "Break a leg" is thankfully not a literal term. It's actually a superstitious phrase that originated in the American theater. So, when you're about to perform, it's literally an alternative way of saying "good luck". 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

18. A "Monday-morning quarterback" refers to those people who second-guess everything you do or say. It's not really a positive phrase. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

17. "Ballpark figure" is usually used by those who are into sports and is a sports-related term used when chatting about games. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

16. "For the birds" is used by Americans when they are talking about something irrelevant or insignificant. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

15. To "put up your dukes" is pretty apparent and yes, you guessed it. It means to hold up your fists in preparation for a fight. Hopefully, we never have to be in that situation.

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

14. "Behind the eight ball" is a term used by Americans. This is used to describe the situation they're in when things are difficult. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

13. If "the cat's out of the bag," it is definitely bad news for you. This means that the precious secret you were desperately trying to keep hidden has finally been revealed.

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

12. "Spill the bean" is a phrase used when someone wants you to come out and say what you've been trying to hide. So it's another variation on the previous.

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

11. "Don't cry over spilled milk" is something someone says when you're upset over something that you hopelessly cannot fix. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

10. When Americans "table an item", then you know they are setting a topic aside for future consideration. Meaning, they'll deal with it later. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

9. When you hear someone say "jump on the bandwagon", this refers to them joining a popular activity or supporting a favorite cause.

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

8. This is a trendy phrase, and we know you've heard of it. "Cold turkey" refers to someone who has abruptly withdrawn from an addictive substance or behavior, like smoking.

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

7. "Plead the Fifth" is a reference to the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, which protects people from self-incrimination. You may have heard this popular term before.

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

6. When two Americans are on a date or having lunch together, they might "go Dutch," or split the bill. We've definitely heard this term before, and many people apply this term.

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

5. If something has "fallen through the cracks," it has either been overlooked or ignored. This is another phrase that we recognized. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

4. If you're sitting in the "nosebleed section," this means you're seated in the highest and cheapest seats of an arena or performance space. That definitely sounds painful! 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

3. Whenever you hear an American saying "it's all downhill from here", it means that they've completed the hardest part of a task. So from there on, everything is a breeze. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Read more: Eugenie and Harry’s wedding photos have one ‘sad’ difference that says a lot about the royal family

2. Be careful who you put your trust in because they may "throw you under the bus". This means they're betraying you for their own gain.

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Read more: 30+ Clothing Failures That Turned Out Complete Disasters

1. Many movies use this term, and it's mostly literally used in action movies as well. If you "ride shotgun," it merely means you get to sit in the front passenger seat. Hopefully, without a gun in hand like the films. 

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

Image credit: Youtube/INSIDER

What did you think about these various phrases? Do you use any of them? Let us know in the comments section below and if you have any of your own, feel free to share them with us. Show this to your friends and family, and remember to keep up-to-date with us for more exciting things when it comes to culture. 

Source: The Insider

Check out these other popular articles: 

  1. 20+ Photos That Will Surprise Even Those Who Think They Saw Everything

  2. 15+ Things That Are Actually Much Bigger Than We Could Imagine

  3. 25 Times The Coincidence Happened And People Just Didn't Let It Go

Related posts
Apr 08, 2019
Top 7 Bizarre Things About The Way Charles And Camilla Make Their Marriage Work
Apr 09, 2019
Meghan Markle And Prince Harry's Body Language During Pregnancy Gives Experts A Lot Of Food For Thought
Feb 19, 2019
Brooklyn Nine-Nine's 10 Easy-To-Miss Details We Failed To Notice
Feb 19, 2019
Hugh Jackman’s Avengers Endgame Cameo: Explained