English Idioms - Medical

at death's door

- very near death

The Prime Minister was at death's door after suffering a serious stroke.

back on one's feet

- physically healthy again

My mother is back on her feet again after being sick with the flu for two weeks.

black out

- lose consciousness, faint

The football player blacked out after being hit by the other player.

break out

- begin showing a rash or other skin disorder

I broke out in a terrible rash after eating the raw shrimp at the restaurant.

breathe one's last

- to die

The man finally breathed his last after a long illness.

bring around/round

- restore to health or consciousness, cure

The medical workers were able to bring the man around after the accident.

bring to

- restore to consciousness, wake from sleep/anesthesia/hypnosis/fainting etc

The woman was brought to soon after the car accident.

catch a cold

- get a cold

I caught a bad cold last week and had to miss three weeks of work.

catch one's death of cold

- become very ill (with a cold, flu etc)

The little boy was told to be careful in the rain or he would catch his death of cold.


- a periodic inspection of a patient by a doctor

I went to have my annual check-up last week.

clean bill of health

- a report or certificate that a person or animal is healthy

The doctor gave me a clean bill of health when I visited him last month.

come down with

- become sick with, catch

My niece came down with a bad cold and was unable to visit me last week.

couch doctor

- a psychoanalyst who puts his patients on a couch

He was sent to see a couch doctor after his continued problems at work.

dose/taste of one's own medicine

- being treated in the same way as one treats others (usually a negative meaning)

Our boss got a taste of his own medicine when people began to ignore him as he had always done to them.

draw blood

- make someone bleed, get blood from someone

The doctor decided to draw some blood from the patient to check up on his blood sugar level.

fall ill

- become sick or ill

The man fell ill last winter and has not recovered yet.

feel on top of the world

- feel very healthy

I have been feeling on top of the world since I quit my job.

flare up

- to begin again suddenly (illness etc)

My mother's skin problems flared up when she started to use the new laundry soap.


- a sudden worsening of a health condition

His arthritus usually flares up every winter.

go under the knife

- be operated on in surgery

His wife went under the knife at the hospital last evening.

hang out one's shingle

- give public notice of the opening of a doctor's office etc

The doctor decided to hang up his shingle as soon as he finished medical school.

have a physical (examination)

- get a medical check-up

Our company sent all the employees to have a physical last week.

head shrinker

- a psychiatrist

The man was told to go and see a head shrinker after he threatened the woman in the store several times.

just what the doctor ordered

- exactly what is needed or wanted

A nice hot bath was just what the doctor ordered.

look the picture of health

- be in good health

My uncle was looking the picture of health when I saw him last week.

on the mend

- healing, becoming better

My grandfather is on the mend after he broke his leg last week.

out cold

- unconscious, in a faint

As soon as the patient entered the operating room he was out cold because of the anesthesia.

over the worst

- recovering from an illness

My brother is over the worst since his skiing accident last month.

pull through

- recover from a serious illness

The car accident was very bad and I don't think that the driver will pull through.

run a temperature

- have a higher than normal body temperature

The little boy is running a temperature and should stay in bed all day.

run down

- get into poor condition

He was working very hard last month and has become very run down.

run some tests

- a doctor does some medical tests on a patient

The doctor has decided to run some tests on the patient.

splitting headache

- a severe headache

I have been suffering from a splitting headache all morning.

take a turn for the worse

- become sicker

My aunt took a turn for the worse last week and is still in the hospital.

take someone's temperature

- measure someone's body temperature

The nurse took my temperature when I went to the hospital yesterday.

throw up

- vomit

The woman threw up several times after eating the bad shellfish.

under the weather

- not feeling well

My boss has been feeling under the weather all week and has not come to work during that time.

Idiom Quizzes - Medical

    Choose an idiom at the bottom to replace the expression in the brackets below:

  1. When we arrived at the scene of the car accident the driver was (near death).

    (a) hanging out his shingle (b) drawing blood (c) at death's door (d) going under the knife

  2. After walking home in the rain I (became sick with) a cold.

    (a) broke out in (b) came down with (c) took a turn for the worse with (d) blacked out with

  3. My father is (healthy again) after his recent illness.

    (a) back on his feet (b) under the weather (c) breathing his last (d) having a physical

  4. Our secretary has been working too hard and is (getting into poor condition).

    (a) over the worst (b) getting a splitting headache (c) back on her feet (d) becoming run down

  5. Although the man was very sick I think that he will (recover).

    (a) run a temperature (b) throw up (c) pull through (d) flare up

  6. I went to the doctor last week and (got a medical check-up).

    (a) ran a temperature (b) had a physical (c) felt on top of the world (d) went under the knife

  7. After eating the seafood at the food court the man began to (vomit).

    (a) throw up (b) pull through (c) flare up (d) break out

  8. The man was forced to (go to a psychiatrist) after he killed the two women.

    (a) go to a head shrinker(b) go under the knife (c) breathe his last (d) pull through

  9. The trainer was quickly able to (restore to consciousness) the boxer who had fainted and fell to the floor.

    (a) throw up (b) pull through (c) bring to (d) black out

  10. Last night my grandmother (became sicker).

    (a) went under the knife (b) felt on top of the world (c) breathed her last (d) took a turn for the worse