10 Idioms and Expressions using the Word ‘Book’

Books have always played an important part in language learning and learning in general. Which is why it comes as no surprise that the English language has many different words, expressions and idioms that use the word book.

Here are a few that I find useful and use often. 

A bookworm

Definition: A person who reads a lot.

A bookworm is someone who loves to read. They would choose to read a book rather than go to a party or do any other activity.


  • My son is a bookworm. He spends all his time in the library and reads more books than anyone I know.
  • My friend and I are bookworms, and we are completely devoted to reading.

Do something by the book

Definition: To do something exactly as the rules tell you.

A person who does things by the book follows all the rules and systems for doing something in a strict way.


  • Her lawyer was very careful and did everything by the book.
  • This is a private deal. He won’t do things by the book.

Be in somebody’s good/bad books

Definition: To have/not have somebody’s approval or favour.

If you are in someone’s good books, they are pleased with you. If you are in someone’s bad books, they are displeased or annoyed with you.


  • If you want to be in mum’s good books, try to clean your room more often.
  • I’m not in my teacher’s good books anymore because I’m always getting into trouble.

Every trick in the book

Definition: Every possible way.

If you have tried every trick in the book, it means that you have tried every possible way of doing or achieving what you want.


  • He tried every trick in the book to persuade her to go out with him, but she said no.
  • Her parents tried every trick in the book to get her into rehab.

Borrow/take a page/leaf out of someone’s book

Definition: To do the same thing that someone else has done because it will bring you advantages.

If you take a leaf out of someone’s book, you follow or imitate the way that person does something because it will be good for you.


  • Maybe I should take a leaf out of your book and start a healthy diet.
  • I think you ought to borrow a page out of her book and study harder for your exams.

Hit the books

Definition: To study intensely.

This does not mean to literally hit or punch your books. To hit the books simply means to start studying hard.


  • I’d better head home. I have an exam tomorrow and need to hit the books tonight.
  • Your final exam is next week. If you don’t hit the books now you’ll surely fail.

You can’t judge a book by its cover

Definition: You cannot know or form an opinion about someone or something based on what that person or thing looks like.

If someone judges a book by its cover, they are forming an opinion of someone by seeing what’s on the surface. Outward appearances can fool easily. One can’t judge a person’s character or true value by simple looking at them.


  • When our neighbours arrived they seemed alright at first, but I suppose you can’t judge a book by its cover.
  • Just because she dresses like a Goth doesn’t mean she’s a bad person. Don’t judge a book by its cover!

Have your nose in a book

Definition: To be reading.

If you saw someone with their nose in a book, it means that they are intently reading. It is used to describe someone who is completely absorbed in the activity of reading.


  • Every time I see her she has her nose in a book.
  • He is such a shy boy. His nose is always in a book.

Read someone like a book

Definition: To easily understand the thoughts and feelings of someone by looking at them.

If you can read someone like a book, you know them very well and find it easy to know what they are thinking.


  • She’s the only person who understands me and can read me like a book.
  • Of course I know when Paul is lying. I can read him like a book.

An open book

Definition: To be easy to understand

If someone is an open book it is easy to understand and know what they are thinking or feeling because nothing is kept secret.


  • My life is an open book.
  • Everyone knows everything about Jack. He’s an open book.

9 thoughts on “10 Idioms and Expressions using the Word ‘Book’

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