Common Phrases Taken Literally by AI

By: Jamie Marderstein | Published: Jun 09, 2024

Common Expressions Taken Literally By AI

To spill the beans, common idioms and expressions have become such a regular part of our everyday conversations that oftentimes we don’t even think twice about their literal meanings. They make conversations easier, more fun, and shorter, and are universally understood. They bring a more lighthearted tone to stressful situations and even just day-to-day chats with friends. However, if you take a second to ponder what the real meanings of the phrases could be taken as, you will have quite a laugh.

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if we took the exact words to heart? We went the extra mile and asked AI to generate what these popular phrases and idioms would look like if we meant every word literally, and the results were incredibly entertaining. Let’s let the cat out of the bag and explore these silly images together. Don’t miss the boat in seeing what they would look like!

1. Over the Moon

Often people use the expression “Over the moon” when they are extremely happy about something. It’s a term to be used when simply just claiming a state of excitement isn’t enough to convey how overjoyed a person is.

Advertisement

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

AI took the phrase literally, and genuinely created an image of a woman jumping over the moon. When you’re excited, you feel like you can do anything. Perhaps even truly jump over the moon!

Advertisement

2. Breaking the Ice

During conversations, people say this when they are clearing the air or diffusing tension. It refers to getting beneath the surface and making situations feel less awkward.

Advertisement

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

According to AI, these men are tangibly destroying the very ice that they stand on. They look like they’re having a blast, too! Good thing group icebreakers don’t always entail taking a trip to Antarctica.

3. Hitting the Books

This phrase is utilized in conversations surrounding studying. The term is used when a person is studying harder than usual, signifying the determination a person has when they have their mind set on learning something.

Advertisement

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

According to AI, it created a man taking his aggression out on a real book. Instead of showing the man intently reading, AI depicted him getting physical with literature. Make sure to protect the books in the library before this man comes back for his next study session!

4. Off the Hook

This saying is employed when an individual is being relieved of something they were previously being punished or held accountable for. They are now liberated from the chore that was expected of them and are free.

Advertisement

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This fish, fabricated by AI technology, is fortunate enough to be set back into the lake that it came from. Swim free, fishy.

5. Barking up the Wrong Tree

Sometimes people search for the answers they are looking for in the wrong spot. When someone does this, they are seen as “barking up the wrong tree.” They are typically seen as wasting their time, as the real answers they seek reside in an alternate location.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

AI assembled a visual of an adorable canine climbing the trunk of a tree. It seems to be looking for something. Hopefully the pup doesn’t get hurt!

Advertisement

6. A Puzzled Expression

People say this when someone is extremely confused. It relates to the confusion and stress that ensues when one is attempting to finish a puzzle, trying to put the pieces together in the correct order.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This phrase is identified by someone’s facial features becoming twisted in a way that resembles confusion. In AI’s case, the facial features didn’t look confused but made up an actual puzzle. This image could easily be the start of an interesting dystopian movie.

Advertisement

7. When Pigs Fly

“When pigs fly” is employed in times where someone believes something will never happen. Because pigs don’t have wings and, in fact, can’t actually fly, the phrase is used to imply the unlikelihood of a specific event or occurrence.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

Look at the cute little pig that AI dreamt up! Here we see a flying pig, proving everyone wrong after all.

Advertisement

8. In Hot Water

People say this when they are in situations that are negative and uncomfortable. Just like being physically in hot water, situations, where people will use this term, are usually stressful and often urgent.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

AI made a picture of two men freaking out inside scalding hot water. Ouch, that’s gotta burn. This photo is honestly a good way to show what being in an uncomfortable situation truly feels like. Someone should probably get them a raft.

Advertisement

9. A Wild Goose Chase

Chasing a wild goose sounds like a daunting task. This is why the term was created; to describe a circumstance where one has to look far and wide for something or pursue something extensively.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

The goose in this photo that was drafted by AI seems to be winning the race by a good amount. Who knows why the man wants to capture this goose so bad, but he seems to have a long race ahead of him.

Advertisement

10. Head in the Clouds

If someone is physically present but mentally elsewhere, their “head is in the clouds.” This describes a person that isn’t paying attention or focused on something else.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This very tall person stands so tall that he quite literally has his head in the clouds. He is lucky enough to be actively achieving all of our childhood dreams of exploring what clouds feel like to the touch. 

Advertisement

11. The Elephant in the Room

When people say this, it’s alluding to a serious topic that people don’t actually want to address. Just like a giant elephant standing in the middle of the room would be an obviously alarming situation, the problem that is “the elephant in the room” is an unavoidable, large issue that stands out.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

AI constructed a photograph showing an elephant standing in a living room surrounded by children. Definitely a problem that is hard to avoid and needs to be addressed. How did it even fit through the door?

Advertisement

12. Blowing off Steam

When a person is very angry, the saying “blowing off steam” is exercised when they are trying to calm down. This is usually because people that are angry are seen as heated, and therefore calming down would be seen as getting cooler. To get sciencey for a minute, built-up pressure is released through releasing physical steam.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This extremely angry looking woman was created by AI to show what it would look like if humans operated like a kettle or steam engine. She has legitimate smoke emanating from her ears in an attempt to relax. It would definitely be easier to tell how people feel if smoke started spewing in the air when people are angry!

Advertisement

13. On the Ball

An individual is accurately “on the ball” if they are auspiciously completing a duty. They are doing what they are meant to do and everything is going swimmingly.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This woman is performing at a circus, balancing on top of a ball. She has great skill and concentration and continues to stay balanced. She is quick on her feet and attentive. 

Advertisement

14. Burning Your Bridges

On an occasion when someone has burned their bridges, they have cut all existing ties to a person, place, or event. Once a bridge is successfully burned, it is gone for good. So are the connections with whatever one is burning their bridges to. It’s probably a good idea to keep all bridges intact unless there are absolutely dire circumstances.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

We currently view a man holding a torch, lighting a bridge on fire. Hopefully he can figure out some other way to get off the island because he is certainly burning his bridges at a chance to exit.

Advertisement

15. Stuck in a Jam

People use this term when they find themselves trapped in an uncomfortable situation. The citation being referenced is usually not very easy to get out of or solve, hence being a “jam.” It’s difficult to progress in, and is occasionally used to refer to being stuck in standstill traffic.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

AI placed a man inside a real jar of jam. Jam is a sticky substance, and finding oneself physically inside a jar of jam would not be very fun if you ask me. While we’re here, does anyone have any peanut butter?

Advertisement

16. A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

In many fairy tales and fables, the wolf tends to act maliciously and the sheep is innocent. A person is called a wolf in sheep’s clothing if they have negative intentions but hide their true feelings behind an innocent facade.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This wolf has great fashion sense, as it is flaunting a coat made of sheep’s wool. I don’t think it’s fooling anyone, though.

Advertisement

17. A Snowball’s Chance in Hell

If there’s one thing we know about “hell,” it’s that it exists in sweltering heat. Therefore, if a snowball were to find its way there, it wouldn’t last very long. It essentially has no chance at survival. This is why people say there’s “a snowball’s chance in hell” when referring to a situation that is very unlikely to occur.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

AI made a visual of a snowball sitting in a hellish landscape. For the most part it seems to be still intact, but it’s unclear how long it has left to exist in those conditions.

Advertisement

18. Under the Weather

Communicating that someone feels “under the weather” means that they are feeling ill. If a person is stuck in inclement weather, they probably don’t feel too well. Therefore, this expression can bring a lighthearted way to claim the feeling of sickness. Because let’s be honest, who really wants to hear about all the yucky details of your symptoms?

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This woman doesn’t look very happy about being stuck under a raincloud. In a similar fashion, feeling sick is not fun at all. Her frustration can be understood for sure.

Advertisement

19. Cry me a River

This expression is often said to someone else. It’s when a person has no intention of forgiving someone else in distress, encouraging them to continue to release their frustration for a long period of time until they are ready to forgive them. It can also be used when someone thinks another person is being overly dramatic for no reason, invalidating their negative feelings.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

AI crafted a picture of a couple standing in a river that the woman has created with her tears. She really did cry him enough tears to make a river. Maybe next, she’ll cry him a lake? Or perhaps an ocean. 

Advertisement

20. Fish out of Water

Fish belong in bodies of water. If they’re not, they are somewhere where they are not supposed to be. This is how the phrase “fish out of water” came about, hinting about a person that is currently somewhere that they probably shouldn’t be.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

AI crafted a photo of a fish that was previously washed ashore. This poor fish. The water is so close, yet so far. It definitely feels out of place.

Advertisement

21. Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed

People say this in referencing someone that isn’t very smart. In a shed full of sharp tools, the tool that is more dull will not be utilized and is less helpful. Comparing someone who is less bright to a dull tool is essentially calling them less useful. 

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

AI formulated an image of a dull hammer in a tool shed surrounded by sharp tools. Maybe this hammer has an underrated skill that doesn’t require being sharp. Comparing someone to a gardening object to call them less smart is unequivocally still unkind.

Advertisement

22. Letting the Cat out of the Bag

Imagine if someone sat down next to you in a public place and opened up their bag only to reveal a cuddly kitten inside. This led to the creation of the phrase “letting the cat out of the bag,” referring to the announcement of a surprising secret.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This girl, created by AI, did let the cat out of the bag! It’s likely very happy to be free to roam once again.

Advertisement

23. An Eye for an Eye

When a fellow utilizes this term, it is often a testimonial to revenge. There has been something stolen or lost, and in exchange, they want to steal something from another person. It is an even trade, intended to be fair and just.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

These two seem to indubitably desire to trade tangible eyeballs with one another. Seems like a fair trade despite being a little freaky, don’t you think?

Advertisement

24. Two Peas in a Pod

Two people who are similar in any fashion are referred to as “two peas in a pod.” This could be because they look similar, act similar, or enjoy similar ideas. Peas in a pod look similar to each other and coexist physically close to each other.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

These happy looking peas seem enthusiastic to rejoice in their proximity together. They seem to be very compatible and share indistinguishable physical characteristics.

Advertisement

25. Cute as a Button

Buttons are tiny objects added to clothing to add a visually appealing touch. Calling a person cute as a button is a way to compliment someone by implying that they are small and pleasant. 

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This little girl is rocking the look of a giant button fastened to her head. Maybe this will become a new fashion trend. Remember that you saw it here first!

Advertisement

26. Hang in There

If someone encourages you to “hang in there,” they are urging you to persevere and not give up on an endeavor. It is used to persuade one to continue an attempt and not let it go.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

A cute raccoon is trying its best to hang onto the branch so as to protect itself from any negative consequences that would occur as a result of falling. Keep at it, little buddy!

Advertisement

27. The Apple of my Eye

This idiom is employed when used as a term of endearment. Some people call the central part of the eyeball the “apple.” Because of this, when someone calls another this charming line, they are comparing them to the most important and central part of the eyeball, meaning they are one of the most important things to them personally.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

People don’t honestly mean that their eyes are made of apples, or even that their loved ones look like an apple. That would frankly have the opposite effect. Her eyes do look delicious, though!

Advertisement

28. The Drop of a Hat

It doesn’t take much effort to observably drop a hat, and one can do so anytime. This led to the creation of the phrase “at the drop of a hat,” signifying that a person is ready to perform an action at any given time. They are willing to do so and have made themselves available. 

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This guy appears to be shocked at the instance of his hat falling off of the cliff on his account. Luckily he still has another one on his head!

Advertisement

29. Raining Cats and Dogs

Have you ever walked outside only to be met with pouring rain? That’s when to exercise the phrase, “it’s raining cats and dogs!” Obviously there are no real-life animals falling from the sky, but that’s not what AI took the phrase to mean.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

Here we see a man holding an umbrella to shield himself from the animals descending from above. While it would probably hurt to get hit in the head by a cascading cat, it would certainly be more cute than a raindrop!

Advertisement

30. Missed the Boat

People say this after a failed opportunity at something. After someone is unsuccessful at catching the boat, they are regretful, as the boat will likely not be returning again soon.

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

This man was so close to catching the boat! Too bad he just missed it. Maybe there will be another one coming… eventually. 

Advertisement

Wonderful Words!

These idioms depicted in real life hopefully brought about a chuckle. They utilize colorful language and imagery to bring otherwise regular situations into more lighthearted ones. They can emphasize the importance of certain situations that are extremely negative or positive. 

Source: Illustration / Trendy Matter

The English language really is filled with nuances that make conversations more fun. Throw one of these expressions into your conversations once in a while, promise it’ll be a piece of cake! Anyways, back to the drawing board!

Advertisement