English Idioms from Boxing: Quiz and Audio Lesson

Jane Lawson,  English Teacher at DailyStep EnglishHello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English!

This quiz and audio lesson will make sure you understand how to use these great idioms. If you are new to DailyStep English, please register for a free trial of 5 UK/USA audio lessons to help your English speaking, listening, vocabulary and pronunciation. 

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Next, Listen to this lesson, to check that you can use these idioms properly!


English Idioms from Boxing
By Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com

1. To throw in the towel


to stop trying to do something because you realise that you cannot succeed

Example:   2 of the 5 candidates in the election have now thrown in the towel, so there are only 3 candidates left now.

Origin of this idiom: When a boxer is ready to quit before the end of a boxing match, he indicates this by throwing his towel into the middle of the boxing ring.

2. Below the belt


Unfair, hurtful or insulting

Example: That comment was really below the belt and I think you should apologise.

Origin of this idiom: In boxing, it is against the rules to punch your opponent below the belt, in other words, below the waist. All punches must be from the waist upwards.

3. Saved by the bell

We say this when a situation ends before we have to say or do something we do not want to do

Example:  My train arrived just before I had time to answer that difficult question. Saved by the bell!

Origin of this idiom: In boxing, the bell is sounded when the boxing match is finished.

4.  Be out for the count

Be sleeping deeply

Example: It looks as if Brendan is out for the count - he must be very tired!

Origin of this idiom: If a boxer is knocked down by his opponent, the referee starts counting to 10. If the boxer does not stand up before the referee reaches number 10, he is ‘out for the count’ and loses the boxing match.

5. Pull no punches

Speak very honestly without holding back unwelcome information

Example: He certainly didn’t pull any punches when he told us about the accident - he told us all the details.

Origin of this idiom: In the past, if a boxer ‘pulled his punches’, it meant that he did not hit his opponent as hard as possible.


So, now you know these 5 idioms! Try to write your own examples to help you remember them better. You can download a free PDF file of this lesson at the bottom of this page, and if you are a DailyStep subscriber, you can also download the audio file.


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Download this lesson: If you are a subscriber to my DailyStep Audio Lessons, you can download this audio file below. The PDF is free for everyone!