Learn English Idioms the Hogwarts Way!

Learn English Idioms the Hogwarts Way! Read on for 12 magical phrases to help you brush up on your English Idioms and fit right in at the Hogwarts School of Magic. All aboard the English Express as we take you on a magical journey of learning English Idioms. 1. Pull a rabbit out the hat rabbit-hat-trick.gif To get magical results i.e. to get results against the odds. Example:

  • Can we pull a rabbit out of the hat and hit our deadline?
  • There’s no way they will win now unless they pull a rabbit out of the hat.

  Harry, Hermione and Ron were fantastic at pulling rabbits out the hat to avoid sticky situations.   2. Wave a magic wand Seamus_Finnigan-3.gif An easy way to solve a problem, often used in negative situations. Example:

  • I wish I could wave a magic wand and make all your troubles go away, but I can’t.

  Fortunately, at Hogwarts, even first years learn how to wave their wand with success and make things happen.   3. Here be dragons dragons.gif This was a phrase frequently used in the old days by cartographers on uncharted corners of the map, to warn people away from dangerous waters where monsters wait. These days, it is used to warn people away from unexplored or dangerous actions. Example:

  • I wouldn’t go in at the moment if I were you. Here be dragons.

  This would be good advice for Harry Potter in the Tri-wizard Tournament, when his first task is to steal a golden egg from a dragon.   4. To have a frog in your throat frog-in-your-throat.gif To be unable to speak clearly unless you clear your throat / give a slight cough. Example:

  • Excuse me. I’ve got a bit of a frog in my throat.

  Unless you are a student at Hogwarts, of course, where chocolate frogs are a favorite, and the Frog Choir sing away in the Great Hall.   5. Let the cat out of the bag crookshanks.gif To share information that was previously concealed. Example:

  • It was supposed to be a surprise but I let the cat out of the bag.

  Hermione’s pet cat, Crookshanks, helps to let the cat out of the bag when he takes an immediate dislike to Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers, who is actually the baddie Peter Pettigrew in animagus form.   6. Crystal ball Hermione_and_Prof_Trelawney-2.gif A means of predicting the future. Example:

  • So what does your crystal ball say about who will win the election?

  Sybil Trelawney introduces all third year students to this device to predict the future, and herself uses her crystal ball to predict the return of Lord Voldemort.   7. Cloak and dagger Invisibility_Cloak_-_Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher_s_Stone_2.gif When people behave in a very secretive manner Example:

  • This is all very cloak and dagger. What’s going on?

  Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility is the perfect magical device for his cloak and dagger activities, aiding him on countless trips and missions, from illegally joining his friends on a Hogsmeade Village outing, to his hunt for Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes.   8. Graveyard shift graveyard-shift.gif If you have to work very late at night, it’s the graveyard shift Example:

  • Sorry, I can’t come out tonight. I’ve got the graveyard shift.

  Harry often gets the graveyard shift, the worst being at Little Hangleton Graveyard, where Voldemort returns to power.   9. Jump the broom Harry_Potter_s_First_Flying_Lesson.gif Jump the broom means to marry, from a time-honored wedding tradition in which the bride and groom jump over a broom during the ceremony. Example:

  • Will they finally jump the broom?

  Every young witch and wizard has his or her own broom, and we all know how the Harry Potter series finishes…   10. Make castles in the air hogwarts.gif Plans or hopes that have very little chance of happening. Example:

  • Instead of making castle in the air, we should choose something we can afford.

  Hogwarts Castle, home to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Poor Hermione, Harry and Ron get through their O.W.L.s (Ordinary Wizarding Level exams) but plans go wrong as the wizarding wars heat up, and they have to leave before taking their N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test).   11. Many moons ago moon-full.gif A long time ago. Example:

  • Many moons ago, I played goalkeeper for the school team.

  Many moons ago, Remus Lupin (werewolf) was best of friends with Harry’s father, James Potter, and his godfather, Sirius Black, with the code name of Mooney.   12. Taste of your own medicine Peskipiksi_Pesternomi_WTF_1.gif If you give someone a taste of their own medicine, you do the same thing to someone that they have done to you to teach them a lesson. Example:

  • I gave him a taste of his own medicine and used the last of the milk.

  Gilderoy Lockhart’s, defence against the dark arts professor, gets a taste of his own medicine. Lockhart never actually did any of the heroic acts he claimed he had done, instead using the “Memory Charm” to force the people who had done them into forgetting and stealing their glory. When his secret is revealed and he uses Ron’s damaged wand to cast the Memory Charm, it backfires, making him forget who he is.

You might think learning English is not as easy as waving your magic wand, but tips, practice and a little help can certainly help you improve your conversational skills. For other fun language learning tips, check out more of our blogs.


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Sue Brett
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