Updated: Oct 30, 2019
As you know, you can choose from a huge list of adjectives to describe your feelings in English. But as an advanced speaker, that can get a little boring. Sometimes statements like, “I am really mad” and “I feel so sad” just don’t cut it, meaning they just don’t fully express the sentiment.
I understand the desire to learn more about a language that you know and love. That’s why I have collected several colorful idiomatic expressions that you can use to express your emotions in English. As a native speaker, I promise that they are ones that are really used (at least in America) and are also effective in expressing your emotional state in a particular moment.
Idioms Used to Describe Happiness
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There are many wonderful expressions that you can use to show your happiness. I think we have more happiness expressions in English than any other emotion. Is this the same in your language? My hope is that happiness dominates in every language!
Let’s take a look.
On Cloud 9
I’m not a person who studies the history of an expression. I’m just like you in that I google the expression if I am curious about its origins. So, I don’t know where the concept of Cloud 9 originated, but I can tell you this: When I use this expression, it means that I am incredibly happy. In fact, think of Cloud 9 as the location of perfect happiness akin to nirvana or heaven.
I have been on Cloud 9 since I received the news about my promotion.
She is on Cloud 9 since finding out that she’s pregnant.
I feel like I’m on Cloud 9 when I am surfing.
What makes you feel like you’re on Cloud 9? In other words, when do you feel the utmost happiness in your life?
Over the moon
Over the moon is similar to Cloud 9. When you’re over the moon about a particular situation or event, you are absolutely thrilled. It’s like you are so happy that the energy from this happiness catapulted you over the moon! Now, that’s some exciting news!
Nancy is over the moon about becoming an aunt.
My wife is over the moon about her new position at the university.
When was the last time that you felt over the moon?
On top of the world
On Cloud 9, over the moon, on top of the world...the are all synonyms. This expression denotes a sense of feeling powerful or empowered. Imagine the superhero version of you standing on top of the world. That feels good, right?
I felt on top of the world after I aced my exam.
May you feel on top of the world today!
Walking on air
When you feel like you are walking on air, you feel light, happy, and free. Imagine kissing the man or woman of your dreams and how you would feel afterwards. Imagine your spouse or lover telling you that he or she loves you. At this point, you feel like you are walking on air. You feel blissfully happy!
Robert just asked me to marry him, and I said yes! I feel like I’m walking on air.
Idioms to Describe Negative Emotions
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I hate to switch gears to talk about negative feelings, but having a list of idioms that you can use in these not-so-fun situations can also help you better express yourself.
Bored to tears
Have you ever been so bored that you wanted to cry? Imagine a tedious English class or having to wait in a line for hours to get something that you wanted. These situations test our patience. So, the next time you go to an excruciatingly boring movie or lecture, feel free to remark to your friend afterwards that you were bored to tears. This will definitely get the point across.
His explanation of phrasal verbs bored me to tears.
I was bored to tears by the end of that 3-hour wedding ceremony.
When was the last time that you were bored to tears? I hope that it is not right now!
Bent out of shape
To be bent out of shape means to feel irritated or frustrated about a situation. Imagine that your husband came home late without texting you, or your friend didn’t invite you to her party. How would you feel? The answer is bent out of shape.
Man, I am so bent out of shape about that speeding ticket I got yesterday. The police officer was totally rude to me, plus I wasn’t even speeding!
What situations make you feel this way?
To be beside yourself
This one might sound strange. How can you be beside yourself? What this means is that you are feeling such strong negative emotion that you don’t feel like yourself or you feel outside of yourself. It’s almost as though you are no longer inhabiting your body. You can be beside yourself with anger, grief, or any powerful negative feeling.
When her dog ran away, she was beside herself with grief. She frantically searched for him for hours until she finally found him at her neighbor’s house.
When was the last time you were beside yourself? My hope is that you don’t feel this way often!
To go off the deep end
Imagine plunging into a deep, dark pool…of emotions! That’s what this is referring to. When you go off the deep end, you lose yourself completely in your feelings. You lose control of your thoughts and behavior. And you might feel this loss of control for a period of time.
Lucy’s dad went of the deep end when his wife left him.
Have you ever seen someone in a television drama go off the deep end? It makes for good television, but I hope my readers don’t have to experience this emotion.
To lose it
This is very similar to going off the deep end. Usually it is used to describe someone’s behavior in specific moment in time. You can lose it over something minor or major.
He really lost it when he found out the bad news.
I’ll be honest. I can really lose it when cars cut me off when I’m driving! When was the last time you lost it?
Knowing how to fully express your emotions is both satisfying and the hallmark of an advanced speaker. I encourage you to pick an example from this post and use it in your speaking or writing this week, depending on your specific goals. And this is far from a complete list. What other idioms or expression could you add to this list?