10 Phrases, Idioms and Terms Associated With Reptiles- Improve your English Speaking

Everyday english in 50 days

Crocodiles, snakes, and lizards are fascinating creatures to observe. With dinosaurs fully imbibed in the popular consciousness courtesy movies like Jurassic Park and King Kong, these reptiles are remnants of a past when huge monstrous lizards used to rule the earth. In the context of the English language, reptiles are mostly used in a negative allusion, though its use can differ from phrase to phrase. Here are 10 such idioms, phrases and terms related to reptiles that you can use in varying situations of life:

10. Up to (one’s) neck in alligators

This is a term that you will find being bandied around mainly in the business sector, where firms (especially startups) or individuals lose sight of their objectives while being too pre-occupied with tangential problems and worries.

For example- “I have been dealing with so many funding and employee attrition problems that I have had no time to build the product this firm was intended for. I guess the start is always difficult, and when up to one’s neck in alligators, we forget that the mission is to drain the swamp.”

9. Turn turtle

If you are an avid reader of the news, then you must have come across this phrase several terms. It means to capsize or turn upside down, alluding to a helpless turtle lying on its back. For example- “When the car collided with the truck, it turned turtle”.

8. Snake oil/snake oil salesman

Have you encountered any salesperson trying to deceive you with his spiel by selling shortcut solutions and remedies like- “lose weight in 6 hours!” or “learn English in 2 days!”? If you are not a naïve person, you will instantly identify such a person as a ‘snake oil salesman’ (snake oil being the remedy).

7. Snake in the grass


Life is all about relationships and the bonds we make with people. But sometimes, a deceitful treacherous person feigning friendship enters our lives, when actually he or she only intend harm. Such a person is referred as a ‘snake in the grass’.

6. Seeing snakes

When someone has one drink too many and becomes totally inebriated, he or she starts hallucinating and seeing things. This is usually referred as ‘seeing snakes’.

5. See you later, alligator­­

This is a humorous, jovial and rhyming way of bidding goodbye. The usual response to this is “After a while, crocodile”.

4. Nurture a snake/viper in one’s bosom

This means to harbor or nurture a person who creates harm to you. For example- “The Aggarwal family had taken in Dinesh when he was an orphan struggling with street crime. Little did they know they were nurturing a snake in their own bosom when he would run away with all their valuables.”

3. Lounge lizard

The term gold-digger is used a lot for pretty women who befriend a man (especially wealthy old men) to sexually or financially exploit them. Ever wondered what a similar term for such a man would be? It is ‘lounge lizard’- a man who frequents bars and clubs to get all chummy with wealthy, older ladies, preying on their insecurities for personal gain.

2. Lot lizard

This one is a derogatory slang with sordid connotations. A lot lizard is usually a prostitute who frequents truck stops, but the term is also sometimes used to refer to a dumb or stupid person.

1. Crocodile tears 

This is the most common expression you must have heard. Crocodile tears mean tears or expressions of sorrow that are not sincere. Many politicians are guilty of this when you hear them express grief over casualties in accidents, calamities or riots. They have no intent of providing succor to the bereaved families but only aim to gather political points.

Want to learn phrase related to MIND, click here!

Want to learn phrase related to AIR, click here!

Want to learn phrase related to FOOD, click here!

Want to learn phrase related to WATER, click here!


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