phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

American phrases and Sayings

435 Phrases 'Born in the USA'

American phrases and SayingsNo country has a closer association with the language of Olde Englande than the USA. From the days of the first Puritan settlers to recent cross-Atlantic tweetings, the two countries have shared in the development of English.

Many words and phrases used in the USA have retained their Elizabethan English meanings and pronunciations that have long disappeared in England itself.

There are many American phrases which are used in the USA but haven't been adopted anywhere else. Example of this are:

These, and many others, are widely understood in the US, but would procure puzzled looks in other English-speaking countries.

The list below are of (some of) the many English phrases that were 'coined in the USA' and now wisely used around the world.

A bigger bang for your buck

A dog is a man's best friend

A foot in the door

A good man is hard to find

A hard man is good to find

A house is not a home

A miss is as good as a mile

A no-brainer

A picture is worth a thousand words

A piece of cake

A piece of the action

A rising tide lifts all boats

A rose is a rose is a rose

A shot in the arm

A sledgehammer to crack a nut

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle

Above my pay grade

Absent-minded professor

Ace in the hole

Acid test - The

Action man

Across the pond

Air kiss

Air quotes

All hat and no cattle

All publicity is good publicity

All singing, all dancing

All systems go

All you can eat

An accident waiting to happen

An arm and a leg

An axe to grind

An offer he can't refuse

Another day, another dollar

As easy as pie

As easy as taking candy from a baby

As happy as a clam

Attack is the best form of defence

Away with the fairies

Baby blues

Baby boomer

Back to the drawing board

Back-seat driver - A

Bad hair day - A


Balling the jack

Ballpark figure - A

Barking up the wrong tree

Basket case


Bats in the belfry

Be afraid, be very afraid

Bean counter

Bee's knees - The

Beef and reef

Behind every great man there's a great woman

Behind the eight ball

Bells and whistles

Bet your bottom dollar

Between a rock and a hard place

Big Apple - The

Big cheese - The

Big Easy - The

Big fish in a small pond

Bigger bang for your buck - A

Birds and the bees - The



Bite the dust


Blast from the past - A

Blaze a trail

Blonde bombshell

Blow your mind

Blue-plate special

Bodice ripper

Body surfing


Born again

Born with a silver spoon in one's mouth

Bought the farm

Break a leg

Bronx cheer

Brownie points

Bucket list

Bunny boiler - A

Bury the hatchet

Caesar Salad


Card-sharp - A

Catch 22

Chaise lounge

Channel surfing

Charley horse

Charm offensive

Chick flick - A

Chow down

Clear blue water


Climb on the bandwagon

Close, but no cigar

Cloud nine

Club sandwich

Coin a phrase

Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey

Come on down

Compassion fatigue

Cold turkey

Concrete overcoat

Cost an arm and a leg


Customer is always right - The

Cut to the chase

Cute as a bug's ear

Date rape

Dead ringer - A

Designer stubble

Diamond is forever - A

Differently abled

Dirt bag

Dollars to doughnuts

Doom and gloom

Doesn't know **** from Shinola

Don't call us, we'll call you

Don't get mad, get even

Double whammy

Down the pan

Down the tubes

Down to the wire

Drag race

Driving while black

Drop-dead gorgeous

Dumb blonde

Ear candy

Easy as pie


Eighty six

Elephant in the room

Elvis has left the building

Ethnic cleansing

Excuse me while I kiss this guy

Extraordinary rendition

Face the music

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Fall guy

Famous for fifteen minutes

Fancy pants

Fashion victim - A

Feeding frenzy - A

Fifteen minutes of fame

Fifth column

Filthy rich

Finger lickin' good

Fish or cut bait

Five o'clock shadow

Flavor of the month - The

Fly by the seat of one's pants

Fly off the handle

Fly on the wall

Foot in the door - A

For the birds

From sea to shining sea

Fuddy-duddy - A

Full of **** and vinegar

Funny farm - The

Generation X

Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration

Get down to brass tacks

Get medieval

Get your dander up

Get your goat

Gild the lily

Glass ceiling

Go haywire

Go the whole hog

Go postal

Go pound sand

Go to hell in a handbasket

Go to the mattresses

Godfrey Daniel

Good riddance to bad rubbish

Goody, goody gumdrops

Gordon Bennett

Got my mojo working

Granny dumping

Great balls of fire


Gung ho

Hairy eyeball

Happy as a clam

Hard man is good to find - A

Hasta la vista, baby

Have an axe to grind

Heads up

Heard it through the grapevine

Heavens to Betsy

Heavens to Murgatroyd

Heavy metal

Heebie-jeebies - The

Hell in a handbasket

Hell's half acre

High five

High on the hog

High, wide and handsome

Hissy fit

Hold your horses

Home is where the heart is

Hooray Henry

Horse feathers

Hot off the press

Houston, we have a problem


Hunt and peck

Hush puppies

I have nothing to declare but my genius

Identity theft

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

In an interesting condition

In like Flynn

In spades

In the bag

In the catbird seat

In the sticks

In your face

Indian giver

Indian summer

Is the Pope Catholic?

It ain't over till the fat lady sings

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness

It's not rocket science



Jobs for the boys

Joined at the hip

Jump on the bandwagon

Jump the gun

Jump the shark

Jury is still out - The

Kangaroo court - A

Katy bar the door

Keep shtum

Keep the ball rolling

Keep up with the Joneses

Keep your chin up

Kilroy was here

Kiss and tell

Kit and caboodle - The

Knee-jerk reaction

Knock into a cocked hat

Know your onions

La-la land

Lame duck - A

Lead balloon - Go down like a

Lead-pipe cinch - A

Let's roll

Level playing field - A

Life begins at forty

Live long and prosper

Loose cannon - A

Loose lips sink ships

Lose your marbles

Make a bee-line for

Make him an offer he can't refuse

Make my day

Marital aid

Memory lane

Men in suits

Mexican wave

Mickey Finn

Middle of the road

More bang for your buck

Mother country - The

My bad

My way or the highway

Name is mud

Never give a sucker an even break

New kid on the block


No-brainer - A

No dice

No way, Jose

Not rocket science

Not worth a plugged nickel

Nth degree

Off the record


Old chestnut

On cloud nine

On the bubble

On the wagon

On the warpath

One-hit wonder

One small step for man

One stop shop

Paddle your own canoe

Paint the town red

Pass the buck

Peg out

Pennies from heaven

Pester power

Peter out


Pie in the sky

Piece of cake

Piece of the action

Pipe dream

Play by ear

Play it again Sam

Play the race card


Politically correct

Pond life

Pony up

Power dressing

Preaching to the choir

Presto chango

P.D.Q. - pretty damn quick

Pride comes before a fall

Prime time

Pull the wool over your eyes

Pull up stakes

Punching above your weight

Push the envelope

Put on the wooden overcoat

Quality time


Red letter day

Riding shotgun


Rise and shine

Road apples

Road rage

Rootin' tootin'

Run a mile

Run of the mill

Sacred cow - A

Say goodnight Gracie

Scraping the barrel

'Scuse me while I kiss this guy

Security blanket

Selling like hot cakes

Seven-year itch

Shaggy dog story

Shot in the arm

Siamese twins

Silver bullet

Six ways to Sunday

Sitting pretty

Six ways to Sunday

Skid row

Smart casual

Smoke and mirrors

Sold down the river

Sound bite

Space, the final frontier

Speak softly and carry a big stick


Spill the beans

Spin doctor

Spring forward, fall back

Square meal

Stand up guy

Step up to the plate

Stranger danger

Stool pigeon


Surf and turf

Surfing the Net/surfing the Internet/surfing the Web

Tail wagging the dog - The

Take the cake

Taken for a ride

Talk to the hand

Talk through one's hat

Tanstaafl - (there's no such thing as a free lunch)


Tell me about it

That's all folks!

That's all she wrote

That's one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind

The ants are my friends, they're blowing in the wind

The bee's knees

The best defense is a good offence

The Big Apple

The Big Easy

The buck stops here

The camera cannot lie

The customer is always right

The elephant in the room

The hairy eyeball

The heebie-jeebies

The jury is still out

The road less travelled

The show ain't over till the fat lady sings

The pits

The usual suspects

The whole kit and caboodle

The whole nine yards

The whole shebang

There's a sucker born every minute

There's no such thing as a free lunch

There's no such thing as bad publicity

They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...

Think outside the box

Thomas Paine - The writings of

Three strikes and you are out

Throw the towel in


To beat the band

To boldly go where no man has gone before


Too big for your breeches

Top notch


Trick or treat

Tuckered out

Twenty three skidoo

Twenty four seven

Two cents worth

Up a gum tree

Up the creek without a paddle

Urban myth

Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things

Vote with your feet

Walk free

Walk the walk


Wear the trousers


What part of no do you not understand?

What you see is what you get

What's not to like?

What's up Doc?

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

When the **** hits the fan

Wild and woolly

Win one for the Gipper

Yada yada

Yellow Peril

You'll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent

Zero tolerance

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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