Teaching idioms

a fat cat

Call My Bluff Definitions

Call my bluff definitions is a cool game for teaching idioms. You’ll find it in my book of fun classroom activities and my ESL Online Games book.

Category: Writing, Reading – From simple vocabulary definitions to enriching knowledge of English through metaphors
Level: Beginner to Advanced 
Group size: Any class size
Materials: Enough examples are provided for a class
Preparation: Students prepare definitions for homework

Teaching Idioms and metaphors to advanced students

Students choose a metaphor or expression and give three definitions of the meaning, two fake and one true. This exercise is an enriching vocabulary task. First, distribute one or two metaphors per student to research the meaning for homework. Alternatively, give students free rein to find their own metaphors or expressions.

In class, students listen to the definitions and decide which the true one is. Once students have heard all three definitions, have everyone stand at their desks and listen as the descriptions are read out again, and this time students sit down if they believe one is false and stand if they think it true. You can then easily see who is correct, and those students can award themselves a point. Ideally, give the preparation task as homework so as not to use class time for the research. Note you may also do two fake answers and one true one for variety.

Six idiomatic expressions to decipher!


Someone who is disorganized or a bit stupid

A head, with a huge amount of hair

A capsule that prevents air coming out of a bicycle tire


An aggressive driver who takes over the road

A hog that has been run over

A type of pig that uses roads to migrate

Rug rat

A child

A rat with a lot of fur

A pet rat

Couch potato

slob who spends all day watching TV

A dish made of layers of cheese and potato

A potato with a long flat shape

An old flame

An ex-girl or boyfriend

A fire that has nearly gone out

The name given to the flame lit at the Olympics

A warm reception

When someone is welcoming

A party given in a warm room

A wedding reception with a lot of guests

Great games resources

Get more easy, fun games like this one to engage your students! If you are teaching online, then the ESL Online Games books is for you, whether you teach children, teens, or adults. However, if you are in the classroom, then the ESL Classroom Activities for Teens and Adults is the one to go for. Both are available in paperback on Amazon.

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