Health, Body, and Soul: From Life to Death Idioms for Students

Master life and death idioms and enhance your English vocabulary with native-like expressions. Learn the meaning and usage of common English idioms with example sentences.

Common Life and Death Idioms with Meanings and Example Sentences

idiom, definition, example sentence

A brush with death

  • Refers to a close or near-death experience.
  • After surviving the car accident, he had a brush with death and realized the fragility of life.

A clean bill of health

  • To receive confirmation of good health after a medical examination or check-up.
  • The doctor gave her a clean bill of health, assuring her that she was in good condition.

A new lease on life

  • To have a fresh start or a renewed perspective on life.
  • After recovering from a serious illness, he felt like he had a new lease on life.

A second wind

  • To gain a renewed burst of energy or motivation to continue or persevere.
  • Despite feeling tired, she found her second wind and pushed through to the finish line.

A shot in the arm

  • Something that provides a boost or revitalization.
  • The positive feedback she received was a shot in the arm, motivating her to keep going.

Alive and kicking

  • To be lively, active, and in good health.
  • Despite his age, he’s still alive and kicking, enjoying life to the fullest.

Back from the brink

  • To recover from a dangerous or critical situation.
  • After a long battle, he managed to come back from the brink and regain his strength.

Battle for survival

  • To struggle and fight to stay alive or overcome a difficult situation.
  • The hiker faced a battle for survival after getting lost in the wilderness.

Beyond the grave

  • Refers to events or actions that occur after death.
  • His legacy and impact continue beyond the grave, inspiring future generations.

Bite the dust

  • To suffer defeat or experience failure.
  • After a long fight, their team had to bite the dust and accept their loss.

Breath of life

  • A revitalizing or rejuvenating influence or experience.
  • The vacation was a breath of life, providing relaxation and renewed energy.

Catch your breath

  • To pause and rest to regain one’s breath or composure.
  • After running a marathon, she needed a moment to catch her breath.

Cheating death

  • To narrowly escape or avoid a fatal outcome or danger.
  • His survival against all odds was like cheating death itself.

Curtain call

  • The final appearance or performance of a person, often at the end of a career.
  • The crowd cheered during her curtain call, celebrating her long and successful acting career.

Dance the last dance

  • To experience or engage in one’s final or ultimate experience or opportunity.
  • The retiring athlete wanted to dance the last dance and give it their all.

Dead as a door nail

  • Completely lifeless or without any signs of vitality.
  • The old car engine was dead as a door nail; it wouldn’t start no matter what.

Death’s door

  • To be on the brink of death or in critical condition.
  • After the severe illness, she was at death’s door, requiring immediate medical attention.


  • Involving great risk or danger to one’s life.
  • The acrobat performed death-defying stunts high above the ground.

Drop like flies

  • To fall or die rapidly in large numbers.
  • During the flu outbreak, people were dropping like flies.

Eternal rest

  • Refers to the peaceful and permanent rest after death.
  • May they find eternal rest and peace in the afterlife.

Fight off

  • To resist or defend against an attack or threat.
  • She fought off the cold by taking medication and resting.

Fighting fit

  • To be in excellent physical health and condition.
  • Despite his age, he’s still fighting fit and able to participate in challenging activities.

Fit as a fiddle

  • To be in excellent physical health and condition.
  • She exercises regularly and eats well, which keeps her fit as a fiddle.

Fountain of youth

  • A metaphorical source or secret to eternal youthfulness or vitality.
  • Some people believe that exercise and healthy living are the fountain of youth.

Full of life

  • To be energetic, vibrant, and lively.
  • The children at the park were full of life, laughing and playing.

Get back on track

  • To return to a desired or normal course or path.
  • After facing setbacks, she was determined to get back on track and achieve her goals.

Give up the ghost

  • To cease to exist or function, especially in reference to a machine or object.
  • After years of use, the old computer finally gave up the ghost and stopped working.

Going strong

  • To continue with strength, vitality, or success.
  • Despite the challenges, their relationship is going strong.

Graveyard shift

  • Refers to working during the late night or early morning hours.
  • She works the graveyard shift at the hospital, taking care of patients overnight.

Grim reaper

  • A personification of death, often depicted as a cloaked figure carrying a scythe.
  • The Grim Reaper is a symbol often associated with death in folklore and mythology.

Hanging by a thread

  • To be in a precarious or extremely fragile situation.
  • The company’s future was hanging by a thread, depending on the outcome of the negotiations.

Have a clean bill of health

  • To receive confirmation of good health after a medical examination or check-up.
  • The doctor examined him thoroughly and gave him a clean bill of health.

Hit rock bottom

  • To reach the lowest point or experience the worst possible situation.
  • After losing his job and going bankrupt, he hit rock bottom before starting to rebuild his life.

In good shape

  • To be in good physical condition or health.
  • She exercises regularly and eats well to stay in good shape.

In my element

  • To be in a situation or environment where one feels comfortable and capable.
  • When she’s on stage, she’s in her element and performs with confidence.

In my own backyard

  • In one’s local or familiar surroundings or community.
  • The solution to the problem was right in my own backyard; I didn’t need to look far.

In my shoes

  • To put oneself in another person’s position or circumstances.
  • Before passing judgment, try to put yourself in my shoes and understand my perspective.

In the best of health

  • To be in excellent physical condition or health.
  • Despite her age, she’s in the best of health and rarely falls ill.

In the driver’s seat

  • To be in control or in a position of power.
  • After taking charge of the project, she felt empowered and in the driver’s seat.

In the limelight

  • To be the center of attention or public scrutiny.
  • The actor’s success put him in the limelight, attracting media and public attention.

In the pink

  • To be in good health or excellent condition.
  • After recovering from the illness, she’s back to being in the pink of health.

In the same boat

  • To be in the same difficult or challenging situation as others.
  • We’re all facing financial hardships; we’re in the same boat.

In the spotlight

  • To be the focus of attention or public interest.
  • The singer found herself in the spotlight after her debut album became a hit.

Kick the bucket

  • A euphemism for dying or passing away.
  • He always said he wanted to travel the world before he kicked the bucket.

Knock on wood

  • A superstitious action performed to avoid tempting fate or jinxing something.
  • The project is going well so far, knock on wood, let’s hope it continues.

Life and limb

  • Refers to risking one’s life and physical well-being.
  • The firefighters put their lives and limbs on the line to save people from the burning building.

Living on borrowed time

  • To continue to exist or survive beyond what is expected or anticipated.
  • After surviving the accident, he felt like he was living on borrowed time.

March to the beat of my own drum

  • To pursue one’s own path or follow one’s own unique way of doing things.
  • She never cared about conforming; she always marched to the beat of her own drum.

Me, myself, and I

  • To act or operate independently, without relying on others.
  • She prefers working alone; it’s usually just me, myself, and I.

Meet one’s maker

  • To die or face death.
  • In his final moments, he was ready to meet his maker.

Memento mori

  • Latin phrase meaning “remember that you must die,” often used as a reminder of mortality.
  • The skull-shaped artwork served as a memento mori, reminding people of the inevitability of death.


  • To feel unwell, sick, or not in good health.
  • She looked off-color and decided to stay home instead of going to work.

On my own terms

  • To do something according to one’s own preferences or conditions.
  • He decided to retire on his own terms, not waiting for others to make the decision for him.

On the mend

  • In the process of recovering or getting better after an illness or injury.
  • After the surgery, she was on the mend and gradually regaining her strength.

One and only

  • A unique and singular person or thing.
  • She’s my one and only true love; no one else compares.

Out of my comfort zone

  • To be in a situation or do something that is unfamiliar or challenging.
  • Public speaking is out of my comfort zone, but I decided to give it a try.

Out of shape

  • To be in poor physical condition or fitness.
  • After not exercising for months, she felt out of shape and decided to start working out again.

Pass away

  • A gentle or euphemistic way of saying someone has died.
  • He peacefully passed away in his sleep.

Pushing up daisies

  • A euphemism for being dead and buried.
  • Once I’m gone, you can find me pushing up daisies in the old cemetery.

Put myself in someone else’s shoes

  • To imagine oneself in another person’s circumstances or perspective.
  • Before judging others, I always try to put myself in their shoes and understand their point of view.

Put one’s health first

  • To prioritize and take care of one’s physical well-being.
  • After experiencing burnout, she decided to put her health first and make self-care a priority.

Reborn from ashes

  • To experience a significant transformation or rebirth after a difficult period.
  • After losing everything in the fire, they rebuilt their lives and emerged reborn from ashes.

Renewed vigor

  • To have renewed energy, enthusiasm, or determination.
  • After taking a break, she returned to work with renewed vigor and motivation.

Rest in peace (R.I.P)

  • A phrase used to express well wishes for someone who has died.
  • The inscription on the tombstone read, “Rest in peace.”

Rise from the ashes

  • To recover, rebuild, or experience a resurgence after a significant setback or failure.
  • The company rose from the ashes and became even stronger after the bankruptcy.

Second chance at life

  • An opportunity to start again or make a fresh start in life.
  • After the near-fatal accident, he considered it a second chance at life.

Sick as a dog

  • To be very sick or unwell.
  • After eating spoiled food, he was sick as a dog for days.

Six feet under

  • To be buried in a grave.
  • When I die, I want to be laid to rest six feet under.

Sound as a bell

  • To be in excellent physical or mental condition.
  • Despite his age, his mind is still sound as a bell.

Spring back to life

  • To regain energy, vitality, or enthusiasm after a period of stagnation or inactivity.
  • After a long winter, the flowers and trees spring back to life.

Stand on my own two feet

  • To be independent and self-reliant.
  • She wanted to prove that she could stand on her own two feet and succeed.

Survival of the fittest

  • The principle that those who are the strongest and most adaptable are the ones who survive and thrive.
  • In nature, survival of the fittest ensures that only the strongest species endure.

Take a turn for the worse

  • To deteriorate or worsen unexpectedly.
  • After showing signs of improvement, her condition suddenly took a turn for the worse.

The apple of my eye

  • Someone or something that is cherished and loved above all others.
  • Her daughter is the apple of her eye; she means everything to her.

The final curtain

  • A reference to the end or conclusion of something, often a career or life.
  • After the last performance, the actor took a bow, signaling the final curtain.

The final journey

  • The last part of someone’s life or the process of dying.
  • The hospice provided comfort and care during her final journey.

The great beyond

  • Refers to the unknown or afterlife.
  • Many people wonder what lies in the great beyond, beyond our earthly existence.

The spark of life

  • The vital or animating force that gives life and energy to living beings.
  • The birth of their child brought them joy and reminded them of the spark of life.

Tip-top shape

  • To be in excellent condition or state.
  • She exercises regularly and eats well, keeping herself in tip-top shape.

To be at death’s doorstep

  • To be very close to death or in critical condition.
  • The patient’s condition was dire; she was at death’s doorstep.

To each his own

  • Different people have different preferences or opinions, and everyone is entitled to their own.
  • I may not understand why he likes that movie, but to each his own.

To meet one’s demise

  • To die or face death.
  • The fearless warrior met his demise on the battlefield.

To meet one’s end

  • To die or reach the end of one’s life or journey.
  • Despite his illness, he was at peace knowing he had met his end with dignity.

To pass on

  • A euphemistic way of saying someone has died.
  • Her grandfather passed on peacefully in his sleep.

To shuffle off this mortal coil

  • A poetic and metaphorical way of referring to death.
  • In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet contemplates whether to shuffle off this mortal coil.

To take one’s last breath

  • The final breath before dying.
  • The elderly woman held her loved one’s hand as they took their last breath.

Tombstone mentality

  • A pessimistic or fatalistic attitude towards life, often associated with a focus on death or mortality.
  • Some people have a tombstone mentality, always dwelling on the negative aspects of life.

Turn the corner

  • To overcome a difficult situation or reach a turning point for the better.
  • After months of struggling, the business finally turned the corner and started making profits.

Turn to dust

  • To disintegrate or crumble into fine particles.
  • Over time, the old book turned to dust.

Under the weather

  • To feel unwell or slightly ill.
  • She didn’t come to the party because she was feeling under the weather.

Up and about

  • To be active, moving around, and functioning normally after an illness or injury.
  • After a week in bed with the flu, she finally felt better and was up and about.

Vital signs

  • Indicators of life, such as pulse rate, blood pressure, and respiration.
  • The doctor checked his vital signs to assess his overall health.

Walk in my shoes

  • To experience or understand another person’s perspective by imagining oneself in their situation.
  • Before judging someone, try to walk in their shoes and understand their struggles.

Walking on air

  • To feel elated, ecstatic, or extremely happy.
  • After receiving the good news, she felt like she was walking on air.

Weigh on my mind

  • To occupy or trouble one’s thoughts or cause worry or concern.
  • The unfinished task weighed on her mind; she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Wellness check

  • A routine medical examination or assessment of one’s overall health and well-being.
  • The doctor recommended a wellness check to monitor his health and detect any potential issues.

With one foot in the grave

  • To be close to death or in very poor health.
  • After the heart attack, he felt like he had one foot in the grave.

Within my comfort zone

  • In a situation or doing something that feels familiar, safe, and comfortable.
  • I prefer staying within my comfort zone rather than taking unnecessary risks.

Work up a sweat

  • To engage in physical activity that causes sweating and increased exertion.
  • He hit the gym every day to work up a sweat and stay fit.

Worm food

  • A humorous or irreverent way of referring to a dead body that will decompose and become food for worms.
  • Once I’m gone, I’ll just be worm food, returning to the earth.

Worn out

  • To be exhausted or extremely tired.
  • After a long day at work, she was worn out and ready for bed.

Your guess is as good as mine

  • To express uncertainty or lack of knowledge about something.
  • I don’t know the answer either; your guess is as good as mine.

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