50 Idioms About Talking

By Mark Nichol

Last week, I offered a roster of synonyms for talk and talking. This list expands on that theme by offering set phrases about talking and their meaning:

1. Beat (one’s) gums: to speak excessively and aimlessly
2. Bull session: a rambling group conversation
3. Chew the fat: to chat
4. Chew the rag: to chat
5. Diarrhea of the mouth: excessive talking
6. Dish out: to deliver critical comments
7. Flap (one’s) lips: see “beat (one’s) gums”
8. Gift of gab: a propensity for talking
9. (One) likes hear (oneself) talk: said of someone who is egotistical
10. Like talking to a brick wall: said of trying unsuccessfully to persuade or reason with someone
11. Run off at the mouth: see “beat (one’s) gums”
12. Shoot the breeze: to chat
13. Shoot the bull: to chat
14. Shoot the shit: to chat
15. Spill the beans: to divulge information, or to confess (see confess)
16. Speak out of turn: to say something inappropriate
17. Speak the same language: to be in agreement
18. Spit it out: to speak about something one is reluctant to discuss — often used as an imperative
19. Talk a blue streak: to talk quickly and excessively
20. Talk a mile a minute: to speak rapidly
21. Talk around: to avoid (a subject)
22. Talk big: to brag
23. Talk dirty: to try to stimulate someone sexually by speaking provocatively
24. Talk (someone) down: to outdebate someone, guide someone through a difficult maneuver (especially a pilot flying a plane), or to successfully bargain for a better price
25. Talk down to: to speak condescendingly
26. Talk (one’s) ear off: to talk to someone excessively
27. Talk (one’s) head off: to talk excessively
28. Talk in circles: to speak in a confusing or indirect manner
29. Talk in riddles: to speak obscurely or with hints
30. Talk (one) into: to persuade someone
31. Talk on: to continue to speak, or to speak on a certain topic
32. Talk (oneself) out: to speak to the point of exhaustion
33. Talk (one) out of: to dissuade someone
34. Talk out of both sides of (one’s) mouth: to speak inconsistently about something depending on who one is talking to
35. Talk (something) out: to talk about something to reach a consensus or understanding
36. Talk (something) over: see “talk (something) out”
37. Talk sense: to speak reasonably
38. Talk shop: to speak about work-related issues outside the work environment
39. Talk some sense into: to talk to someone to persuade them to see reason
40. Talk the talk: to speak as if one is an authority or adheres to certain beliefs or values
41. Talk the talk and walk the walk: to act in accord with one’s stated beliefs or values
42. Talk through: to talk about something thoroughly to achieve a resolution
43. Talk through one’s hat: to speak insincerely, to talk nonsense, or to exaggerate
44. Talk to hear (one’s) own voice: to talk excessively, in an egotistical manner
45. Talk tough: to speak in an intimidating manner, or to bluster
46. Talk turkey: to speak frankly and/or with resolve
47. Talk until (one) is blue in the face: to speak exhaustively, especially in an unsuccessful effort to persuade
48. Talk (something) up: to promote something to draw attention to it
49. Talk (one’s) way out of: to say something so as to evade blame or avoid responsibility
50: You should talk: an admonition to avoid expressing oneself hypocritically

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6 Responses to “50 Idioms About Talking”

  • BAZZY

    “Patter” is an old word (1758) and made popular in the 30’s and 40’s. It’s a term used to describe the way one speaks. In Dashiel Hammett’s movie the Maltese Falcon, Humphrey Bogart answers the Gunzel’s threat (Elisha Wood Jr.) when he threaten to shoot him (they’ll be pulling lead out of your liver). Bogart laughed and said sarcastically “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter”.

    Ref OED Patter (n) The cant or secret language of thieves or beggars, ‘pedlars’ French’; the peculiar lingo of any profession or class; any language not generally understood.

  • shirley in berkeley

    Talk talk talk!
    All talk and no action!

  • mrburkemath

    I’m partial to “prattle.”

  • ApK

    My wife introduced me to “talking to hear (one’s) head rattle.”

  • Rick

    I once heard a preacher described as someone who could talk until he thought of something to say.

    One time I was talking to a field tech who had come out to our site. We started talking about a salesman with his company I’ll call Sam Jones. As soon as I mentioned his name, this tech said, “Sam Jones could talk butter down off of a hot biscuit.”

  • marty

    What about “let the cat out of the bag.”

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