Family Idioms: Enriching the English Language

Language is a fascinating realm, one that allows us to express thoughts and emotions through different mediums. Idioms, as one such element, add flavor and zest to our dialogues. An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning, depending on the context. Today, we are going to explore a unique branch of idioms – the “family idioms”. Let's dive in and take a look at some common idioms we use that have their roots in the concept of 'family'.

List of Family Idioms:

"Black sheep of the family"

Meaning: A family member who is considered a disgrace or embarrassment to the family.

Example: Despite his successful siblings, John was always seen as the black sheep of the family because of his rebellious nature.

"Blood is thicker than water"

Meaning: The bonds of family are always stronger than those of friends or outsiders.

Example: No matter how close you are to your friends, remember, blood is thicker than water.

"Like father, like son"

Meaning: A son's habits or characteristics resemble those of his father.

Example: Jack's passion for painting isn't surprising. Like father, like son.

"Flesh and blood"

Meaning: One’s own family.

Example: I can't believe my own flesh and blood would lie to me.

"Born with a silver spoon in one's mouth"

Meaning: To be born into a wealthy, privileged family.

Example: He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, hence, he never had to worry about money.

"Bad blood"

Meaning: Serious hostility or unfriendliness between people, often because of past disagreements or arguments.

Example: There's been bad blood between those families for years.

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree"

Meaning: Children often have similar characteristics or behaviors to their parents.

Example: Lisa is just as cheerful as her mom—the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

"Run in the family"

Meaning: Traits or abilities that several family members share.

Example: Musical talent seems to run in their family.


These idioms, like many others, are symbolic expressions. They illustrate common experiences or accepted truths, which is what makes them so useful and widely understood. To grasp their meaning, it's essential to consider the phrase as a whole, rather than focusing on the individual words.


Question: Can these idioms be used in formal writing?

Answer: Idioms can indeed be used in formal writing, but their usage should be measured and appropriate to the context. Some idioms are more casual and might be out of place in serious or formal writing.

Interesting Quotes:

"I inherited that calm from my father, who was a farmer. You sow, you wait for good or bad weather, you harvest, but working is something you always need to do." - Miguel Indurain. This quote exemplifies the idiom "Like father, like son".

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree...unless that tree is on a hill." - Henry Rollins. This quote humorously takes on the idiom, suggesting that a person's environment can also significantly influence their characteristics.


Idioms add color and depth to our conversations and writing. They encapsulate complex ideas in simple, memorable phrases, and can convey a wealth of meaning in just a few words. The family idioms we've explored here highlight the universal truths, lessons, and experiences tied to family relationships and dynamics. As you continue to learn and explore the English language, these idioms will certainly prove to be valuable additions to your linguistic arsenal.

So, next time you converse or write, remember these idioms. They will not only make your speech more vibrant and expressive but will also help you understand the cultural nuances embedded in the English language. Happy learning!

Remember, language is a continuous journey, and every idiom learned is a step forward on that journey.

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