Idioms for Basic Emotions: Happiness, Sadness & Fear

Idioms for Basic Emotions: Happiness, Sadness & Fear

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

Oscar Wilde, an Irish poet and playwright

There are 6 basic emotions – happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger and surprise. Whenever you feel them, you sure can say that you are happy, sad, afraid, disgusted, angry or surprised. Or you can use some of the idioms we’re going to teach you today. Study the vocabulary below and do the exercises to practice. 


to be in high spiritsto be in a good moodHe is in high spirits since his girlfriend agreed to move in with him.
to be beside oneself with joyto be in a state of great excitementI was beside myself with joy when I found out about the admission.
to be happy as a larkto be very happyI’m as happy as a lark because my kids are finally coming home after 2 years away.
to be happy as a pig in mudto be very happyKathy was as a pig in mud all day long – she’d been waiting for a day in Disneyland for a very long time.
to be bursting with joyto be so filled up with happiness as to be unable to contain itShe was bursting with joy when she’d found out she was pregnant.
to have a ballto have a great timeSo how was the party last night? – It was great – we had a ball!
to be in one’s elementbe in a situation or environment that one particularly likes and in which one can perform wellHe was always in his element when working around the house.
to be with bells on eagerly, enthusiasticallyWe are waiting for you with bells on.
to be blissed outto be perfectly happy and relaxedJosh is just blissed out, always smiling.
to be cock-a-hoop (old-fashioned)to be extremely and obviously pleased, especially about an achievementThe team is cock-a-hoop at winning its first game of the season

More idioms about happiness are here.


to be out of sortsto be in an unhappy moodPeter overslept this morning and has been out of sorts all day.
to be low-spiritedto be sadI’m so low-spirited because I couldn’t land the job.
to be down in the dumpsto be unhappy, depressedHe’s been down in the dumps since his boss criticized his report last week.
to be grief-strickento be sorrowfulHer pet died and she’s grief-stricken. Let’s give her some time.
to have the bluesto be sad, melancholy I have the blues now but I’ll be OK. Just give me a day or two.
to be blueto have the bluesShe’s been blue since the day he left her.
to be heavy-heartedto melancholy, depressedI can’t watch such movies – they make me heavy-hearted.
to be broken-heartedoverwhelmed by grief or disappointmentShe was broken-hearted when her boyfriend made those rude remarks.
to be a sad sightto be very sadWhy is he such a sad sight? – I hear he’s lost a lot of money in the market.
to be cast downto feel depressedShe was greatly cast down by abusive criticism of her novels.

Further reading: “Multiple Ways to Say I’m Sad


to be in a cold sweatto be nervous, terrifiedWhen I looked over the cliff, I broke out in a cold sweat
to be terror-strickento feel extreme fearThe girl was glued to the spot (= the girl couldn’t move), terror-stricken.
to be horror-strickento be briefly paralysed with horror or shockI was horror-stricken when I witnessed the crime.
to be beside oneselfto be very shockedAnyone would be beside themselves if they saw what she did.
to give someone heebie-jeebiesto frighten someoneDark alleys give me heebie-jeebies.
to be in a flusterto be in an agitated, confused stateThe main thing is not to get all in a fluster. We must remain clam.
to be in a (blue) funkto be extremely nervous, fearful
(this idioms can also mean to be sad)
I’ve been in a funk since I started getting the threat letters.
to be in a stateto be agitated, anxiousI’m in a state because the test is tomorrow and my whole life depends on it! – Don’t be so dramatic.
to be in a tizzyto be in a nervous, confused, agitated stateHe’s always in a tizzy before board meetings, so it’s going to be a long couple of days.
to be panic-strickento be affected with panicThe panic-stricken victims rushed out of their blazing homes.

More idioms about fear are here.


Click the link here and match the sentence parts.

Click the link here and choose the right words to complete the sentences.

Did you like the post? Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more content like this. In the next article on the topic, we’ll cover idioms related to the other 3 basic emotions – disgust, surprise and anger.

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