Idioms about cows and bulls

There are a lot of English idioms about animals. This week I am going to focus on five that are connected with cows or bulls.

1. Until the cows come home

Definition: for a very long time.
He will talk until the cows come home unless someone stops him.
You can keep arguing with me till the cows come home but I won’t change my mind.

2. Don’t cry over spilled milk

Definition: you can’t change the past so look to the future and don’t be upset about things in the past that you can’t change.
It’s done now. There’s no point crying over spilled milk.

3. Milk it for all it’s worth

Definition: to take full advantage of a situation.
Example: My brother is in bed with the flu and milking it for all it’s worth. He wants home-made soup, his favourite magazines from the shop and hot drinks.
The boss is away this week and some colleagues are milking it for all it’s worth. Long lunches, leaving early… They’ll be sorry when he gets back.

4. take the bull by the horns

Definition: to tackle a situation directly rather than looking for an easy way out or avoiding confrontation.
A number of people aren’t happy about the way that the project is being run so I took the bull by the horns and raised the matter in the meeting.
I’ve always been afraid of speaking in public so I took the bull by the horns and joined a debating club.

5. A bull in a china shop

If this phrase is used to describe someone, it means they are clumsy, careless or tactless and they could cause a lot of damage – in the same way that a large animal in a shop full of fragile items would. This could be physical damage, such as knocking things over, or damage to relationships or people’s feelings.

I wanted to try and get the others on side because I knew it would be a difficult conversation. However my colleague went into the meeting like a bull in a china shop.

Picture of cow

More from English with Kirsty

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If you’re interested in idioms, you may also like my post about wolf idioms or my podcast about body idioms.

2 Comments on “Idioms about cows and bulls”

  1. Eva Stoppa says:

    You can keep arguing with me till the cows come home but I won’t change my mind. Is there a comma before “But”? I’m a bit confused, because I would have put one, but you didn’t.

  2. Hi Eva and thanks for your comment.

    Yes, you are right. The comma should be there. I must have missed it when proofreading the article.


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