20 English Expressions with Alliteration

YouTube video

Download free lesson PDF

300+ idioms course

Alliteration is repeating the same (or similar sounds) at the beginnings of words. It is often used in poetry and music, and we also have some idiomatic expressions in English that use alliteration. Today you’ll learn 20 English expressions with alliteration:

bated breath

If you’re waiting for something with bated breath, it means you’re very anxious or excited, very eager to get or find out what you are waiting for.

We all waited with bated breath to find out who had won first place in the competition.


Describing something with the adjective cookie-cutter means it is exactly the same as others of the same type; there is nothing different about it.

I’m not a fan of that neighborhood – it’s street after street of cookie-cutter houses; there’s no diversity.


A person who is a daredevil takes dangerous risks because they enjoy the adrenaline.

20 English Expressions with Alliteration Espresso English

He’s definitely a daredevil!

father figure

A man who is NOT your father, but who you respect and admire, and who has influenced and guided your life, is a father figure.

My parents are divorced and I’ve never had much contact with my dad, but my uncle has been a father figure in my life.

gas guzzler

A car that requires a lot of gasoline and uses up gasoline quickly is a gas guzzler.

20 English Expressions with Alliteration Espresso English

His new car is a real gas guzzler.

halfhearted / wholehearted

If you make a halfhearted attempt to do something, it means you don’t give it 100% of your effort.

The word wholehearted means you are 100% committed, enthusiastic, and devoted.

She made a halfhearted attempt to write a book, but she gave up after finishing a few chapters.

This political candidate has my wholehearted support.

add insult to injury

To add insult to injury means to make a bad situation even worse or more humiliating.

I was running late for a date – and then, to add insult to injury, a car drove past and splattered me with mud.

20 English Expressions with Alliteration Espresso English

jump for joy

To jump for joy means to show great happiness and excitement.

20 English Expressions with Alliteration Espresso English

My kids jumped for joy when I told them we were going to Disney World.

labor of love

labor of love is some work that you are not being paid for (or being paid very badly), but you do it because you love it, or you are doing it for someone you love.

The old woman spends hours making clothing to donate to poor children – it’s a real labor of love.

mind over matter

This idiomatic expression means that your thoughts are stronger than the physical reality.

Come on, you can do ten more push-ups… mind over matter!

20 English Expressions with Alliteration Espresso English

neck and neck

If two competitors are neck and neck, it means that they are so close that it is hard to tell who’s winning.

The two leading presidential candidates are neck and neck; the election will be decided by just a few votes.

cost a pretty penny

If something costs a pretty penny, it means it cost a LOT of money!

They took a three-week vacation in a luxury hotel? That must have cost a pretty penny.

rave reviews

If a film, performance, CD, or product gets rave reviews, it means that people are evaluating it and saying EXCELLENT things about it.

The author’s new novel is getting rave reviews – many say it’s the best book of her career.

20 English Expressions with Alliteration Espresso English

The “thumbs up” sign is used to show approval

sorry sight

sorry sight is something that is sad, pitiful, or unpleasant to look at.

The old abandoned cathedral is now covered in graffiti- a sorry sight.

stand the test of time

If something stands the test of time, it means it continues to work well for a long time.

They’ve been married for 50 years. Their relationship has stood the test of time.

vice versa

The expression vice versa means “the reverse of the previous statement is true, too.”

I respect him, and vice versa. (he respects me, too.)

20 English Expressions with Alliteration Espresso English

work wonders

If something works wonders, it means it is surprisingly and amazingly beneficial.

This laundry detergent works wonders for getting stains out of clothing.

a word to the wise

This expression is used before you give an important piece of advice.

A word to the wise – don’t spend everything you earn; you should save up some money for emergencies.

Learn Common English Idioms

20 English Expressions with Alliteration Espresso English

Learn more about the Idioms Course

Image sources: Jose Yanez, Jason Lawrence, JumpforJoyCDA