New Year Idioms and Proverbs | DailyStep English

New Year Idioms and Proverbs


Jane Lawson English Teacher Hello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English. I hope 2019 is starting well for you. 
How many of these English idioms and proverbs for a New Year can you use in conversation?  Take this quiz and lesson to find out! You can also listen to free audio summaries of DailyStep Subscriber lessons. So first, test yourself with this QUIZ:


Next, Listen to this lesson, which will explain in detail how to understand these idioms and proverbs.


Idioms and proverbs for the New Year
By Jane Lawson at

1.  Turn over a new leaf


Start behaving in a better, different way.

Example:  I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf this year, and do a lot more exercise. So I’m starting tomorrow!

Note: The literal meaning of this idiom is ‘turn the page to a fresh page’. LEAF  is the old word for PAGE in a book. In fact, we still have the phrasal verb ‘to LEAF THROUGH a book or magazine', which means ‘turn over the pages without reading them much.’

Example:  While I was waiting for the dentist, I leafed through a couple of magazines.

2. A change is as good as a rest

A change of occupation can be just as relaxing as a having a rest.

Example: He seems so much happier since he started his new job! A change is as good as a rest, as they say.

Note: Another way to say this is: ‘The fact that he is doing different things in his new job is refreshing for his brain and body. The change of routine has refreshed him.’

3. Nothing ventured, nothing gained

You can't expect to achieve anything if you don’t take risks.

Example:  I’m going to apply to that university and work hard on my exams to get there. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Note:. Another way to say this is: ‘If I do not try, then there is no way that I can succeed in getting to that university.’

4.  Start with a clean slate

Make a fresh start, not connected to how things were before.

Example: Last year he had a lot of problems so he is starting this year with a clean slate and a positive attitude.

Note: Slate is a type of stone, black or dark grey in colour, which can be split into smooth, flat sheets. These are used today for roof tiles and floor tiles, and in the past were also used for writing on with chalk. So, if you had a clean slate, it meant that you had a fresh piece of slate with no chalk on it, and could write something new. This is the origin of this idiom.

5. The early bird catches the worm

If you start or arrive sooner, you are more likely to be successful.

Example: Let’s make sure we get to the theatre well in advance of the show. There are not many tickets left and the early bird catches the worm!

Note: This proverb is self explanatory really. In other words, it explains itself. Birds eat worms, and the first birds to arrive will eat all the worms, leaving no worms for the later birds.

Can you think of similar idioms and proverbs in your language? Maybe they are even the same? Try to write some examples as this will help you to remember them better! At the bottom of this page you can download a free PDF file of this lesson and if you are a DailyStep subscriber, you can also download the audio file.

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How to use English Idioms and proverbs about New year -  Quiz + Audio Lesson

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