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HomeIELTS SpeakingVocabularyUseful Expressions: Describing Emotions (Part 3)

Useful Expressions: Describing Emotions (Part 3)

Useful Expression for IELTS Speaking is a document that summarizes the most used phrases in the IELTS Speaking section (note that these phrases can only be used in spoken language). 

Health, sickness, and relaxation

  1. (to be) back on your feet
    to have recovered after a period of illness, or to have recovered after being in a bad situation (e.g financial)
    – I’m finally back on my feet this week after being so sick with the flu.
    – It took the company quite some time to get back on its feet after the financial crisis
  2. (to be) firing on all cylinders
    to be functioning as best as possible
    – I’m firing on all cylinders now after training every day for two months
    – He hasn’t really been firing on all cylinders lately, his work performance wasn’t very good last month.
  3. (to be) as fit as a fiddle
    to be very fit and healthy
    Example: My grandpa is almost 90 years old and he’s still as fit as a fiddle.
  4. (to be) as fresh as a daisy
    to feel refreshed and energised
    Example: I usually feel as fresh as a daisy after taking an afternoon nap.
  5. (to be) as good as gold
    to describe someone or something that is feeling, acting, or functioning well Example:
    – I feel as good as gold after getting a massage yesterday.
    – Despite the forecast, the weather was as good as gold on our trip down south.
    – My cars about twenty years old, but it still works as good as gold.
  6. (to be) homesick
    Meaning: when you really long for, or miss your home after being away for a period of time
    Example: I was feeling so homesick during the first two weeks of living here. But after two months I got used to it. Now I never want to go home!
  7. (to be) on your last legs | on its last legs
    when someone or something is almost completely exhausted, broken or worn out
    – My motorbikes pretty much on its last legs. I think I’ll need to buy a new one soon.
    – Thank god you brought me a coffee. I was really on my last legs before that, and I’ve got another 2 hours of work to do.
  8. (to look | feel) like death warmed up
    Meaning: when someone looks really unwell, because they are sick, tired, or exhausted
    Example: Jenny looks like death warmed up today. She must have had a busy weekend partying.
  9. (to) kick the bucket
    when someone dies (could be offensive), or something is completely broken Example:
    – When I kick the bucket I want to donate all my money to charity.
    – I have to use public transport to get around now since my motorbike kicked the bucket last week.
  10. (to be) off colour
    to be feeling or looking unwell, when your face is pale or white
    Example: I was feeling a little off colour after lunch, so I took the rest of the day off.
  11. (to be) as right as rain
    to describe someone or something that is feeling or functioning well (similar to as good as gold)
    Example: I was quite sick yesterday, but after a good night’s sleep I’m feeling as right as rain.
  12. (to be) as sick as a dog
    Meaning: to be very sick
    Example: I was as sick as a dog last week. Thank god my mother was there to look after me.
  13. (to be | feel) under the weather
    Meaning: to be feeling unwell
    Example: I’m feeling a little under the weather today after such a busy week.
  14. (to be | feel) worse for wear
    to feel worn out, exhausted or unwell. Also can be used to describe an object Example:
    – I’m really feeling a little worse for wear after partying all weekend.
    – My motorbikes looking a bit worse for wear after driving it through the forest all day
  15. You are what you eat
    a phrase used to show the connection between your health and the food you eat
    Example: I don’t eat pork. You are what you eat you know!


  1. (to be) as free as a bird
    to feel free of responsibilities or worry
    Example: After finishing my final examinations and graduating from university I felt as free as a bird.
  2. (to be) green with envy Meaning: to very envious or jealous
    Example: She was green with envy when she saw my new bicycle. 66. (to be) as proud as a peacock
    Meaning: to be very proud about something, sometimes used in a negative context when someone is overly proud about themselves
    Example: Christine has been walking around as proud as a peacock all day since she found out that she was the top student in the class.
  3. (to be) written all over your face
    when someone’s true feelings are very obvious because of the expression on their face
    Example: She said she was okay, but I could see she was angry, it was written all over her face.
  4. (to be) quaking in your boots
    to be very scared, especially so scared you are shaking
    Example: I was quaking in my boots when I was at home alone last night. That horror film I watched the other night really scared me.
  5. (to) rub it in
    to continually talk about something that embarrasses or upsets someone, particularly a mistake they have made or something they have done wrong
    Example: I know I’ve made a mistake, but you don’t have to rub it in all day.
  6. (to) run out of steam
    to lose energy, motivation, or enthusiasm when doing something
    Example: I’m really starting to run out of steam with this project, it’s just starting to become very boring and tedious.
  7. (to) ruffle someone’s feathers
    to do something that annoys or upsets someone
    Example: I really ruffled some feathers at the meeting last week with my new changes to the team member’s responsibilities. Many people were upset with the new workload.
  8. ups and downs
    the good times and the bad times
    Example: My best friend and I have been through a lot of ups and downs together.
  9. (to be) water off a duck’s back
    when someone’s insults or criticism doesn’t affect you
    Example: I’m not worried about what they are saying about me, it’s water off a duck’s back.
  10. (to be) weak at the knees
    to be overcome with an emotion so strongly that it makes you feel unstable while standing
    Example: When I heard the terrible news about his death, I become weak at the knees and had to lie down.
  11. (to) wear your heart on your sleeve
    to show your feelings and emotions openly and not hide them
    Example: I’m quite a shy person, not the type who wears their heart on their sleeve.
  12. (to be) the living proof of something
    to be an example or proof that something is possible or can be done
    Example: Many celebrities are living proof that money can’t buy you happiness.
  13. (to be) no skin off my nose
    Meaning: to say that something won’t affect you
    Example: I don’t care if they don’t come to my party, it’s no skin off my nose.
  14. (to have) your head in the clouds
    to have an unrealistic view of things happening in your life, or to be daydreaming or absentminded
    Example: Jenny really is out of touch with reality sometimes, she walks around with her head in the clouds all day.
  15. (to) cut like a knife
    when something causes great emotional pain or suffering
    Example: When my girlfriend broke up with me, it really cut like a knife.
  16. (to) shake like a leaf
    Meaning: to be so scared you are shaking with fear (similar to quaking in your boots)
    Example: I was shaking like a leaf after the accident happened, it was a very frightening experience.
  17. (to be) as comfortable as an old shoe | pair of slippers
    Meaning: to be very familiar and comfortable with someone or a certain situation
    Example: She’s as comfortable as an old shoe standing in front of thousands of people, she’s been presenting seminars for years now.
  18. (to be) as innocent | gentle as a lamb
    Meaning: to be a very gentle, innocent, or naïve person
    Example: I’m certain she isn’t the one to blame for this terrible situation, she’s as innocent as a lamb.


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