Are You Weird? Personality Idioms Explored

Say what?

There are lots of quirky idioms that describe a person's character. For example, if someone says—“You put your pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else”—it means you’re not special, you’re just like the rest us.

Not sure if someone just paid you a compliment or an insult? Browse through this handy list to set the record straight. 

Butter wouldn’t melt in his/her mouth

The idiom butter wouldn’t melt in his/her mouth describes someone who appears demure, innocent or sincere, but is actually unkind and devious. It's saying you're so cool and collected, that you wouldn't even be warm enough to melt butter. Ouch.

Shrinking violet

Remember going to your first dance as a preteen and standing against the wall? Teachers may have considered you a shrinking violet, or an exceedingly shy person.

This idiom is typically assigned to girls, but who’s “Violet?” The poetic origin of this idiom was describing the flower, not a girl. Sometimes, this idiom is used as “she’s no shrinking violet,” which describes a woman who is outspoken and not afraid to express her views. 

 

All brawn and no brains

The idiom all brawn and no brains typically refers to someone who’s strong and muscular, but not very intelligent. Football players and, say, bouncers at nightclubs, are said to possess brawn, but that doesn't mean there's nothing going on upstairs.

Armchair critic

We carry special disdain for people who pretend to know a lot about something, but really don't know anything about it at all. Equally annoying are those who sit back and criticize the way you do something without getting up and helping out.

These people are armchair critics. And we don't blame you for not wanting to be around them.

Still, there's a little armchair critic in all of us. Have you ever criticized an athlete’s performance (or, more likely, a ref's call)? Or judged a dancer or singer on a reality TV show? Yeah, we'll let it slide.

Born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth

If you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth, it means you come from a wealthy family with a high social position. The spoon you actually use these days probably isn't a great indicator of your wealth, but in the Middle Ages, only commoners used wooden spoons.

This idiom speaks more to the spoon-bearer's personality than just their social status: Entitled, naive, presumptuous. All the qualities you'd expect of someone who wasn't allowed to leave the palace walls.

 

Long in the tooth

If you’re long in the tooth it means you’re old. This idiom likely comes from the practice of examining horses’ teeth to determine their age. It's generally an unkind or humorous way to refer to people who do something they seem too old for - like race car driving, or bungee jumping. We say, pooh-pooh to that.

Doubting Thomas

A doubting Thomas is a skeptic who refuses to believe something without personal experience or physical evidence. The idiom comes from apostle Thomas (Didymus), who did not believe Jesus had risen from the dead. He said to the other disciples: “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my fingers into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

While being skeptical and demanding truth are wonderful qualities to have when learning new things, constant doubters can also come off as being overly critical or looking down on others' beliefs.

Dyed-in-the-wool

The idiom dyed-in-the-wool describes a person’s deeply ingrained political, cultural or religious beliefs. It comes from the fact that when wool is dyed before it is woven, the color is less likely to fade.

In the positive sense, you could be a dyed-in-the-wool sports fan, meaning you’re faithful to your team, even when they suck. But, it can also mean you are unwilling to be open to other ideas or beliefs because of how ingrained you are in your own opinions.

Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Dictionary Is More Than The Word Of The Day

Enter your email for quizzes, quotes, and word facts in your inbox every day.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.