100 Best Idioms for Sad

Idioms for sadness are like secret codes that people around the world use to talk about their blues. These phrases aren’t just a bunch of words; they pack a punch and paint a picture of what we’re feeling inside. Stick around if you want to explore these emotional shortcuts that help us say a lot with a little!

From Movies and TV Shows

1. Crying Over Spilt Milk

If someone says they are “crying over spilled milk,” they are upset about something that has already happened and can’t be changed. It’s like being sad over a glass of milk that you’ve spilled; there’s no point in crying because you can’t put the milk back in the glass.

2. Feeling Blue

When you’re “feeling blue,” you’re feeling sad or down. This phrase has been used in many old movies and songs to describe a sad mood.

3. Down in the Dumps

This is another way to say you’re feeling sad or unhappy. If someone is “down in the dumps,” they’re in a low mood and might not want to do much.

4. Lost My Mojo

When someone says they’ve “lost their mojo,” they feel like they’ve lost their confidence or happiness. The phrase became popular in the Austin Powers movies.

5. Singing the Blues

This means you’re talking about your problems or feeling sad. It comes from blues music, which often talks about life’s troubles.

6. Carrying the Weight of the World

This means you’re feeling really stressed or sad because you have a lot of problems or responsibilities. Heroes in movies often feel this way because they have to save the day.

7. Hit Rock Bottom

When someone has “hit rock bottom,” they are at the lowest point in their life, usually feeling very sad or hopeless.

8. Like a Lost Puppy

If someone looks “like a lost puppy,” they look sad and confused, just like a puppy that has lost its way.

9. A Real Tearjerker

If something is a “real tearjerker,” it’s very sad and makes people cry. You’ll hear this phrase often when people talk about sad movies or episodes.

10. A Hard Knock Life

This phrase means you’re going through a tough time. If someone says it’s “a hard knock life” for them, they’re struggling and probably feeling down.

11. Wearing a Long Face

To “wear a long face” means to look sad or disappointed. This idiom often appears in old Western movies.

12. In a Funk

When someone is “in a funk,” they are in a bad mood and feel discouraged or sad.

13. Going Through the Wringer

If you’re “going through the wringer,” you’re experiencing a very hard time that’s making you sad or stressed.

14. Biting the Dust

While this can mean to die in an action scene, it can also symbolize a failure or disappointment that leaves you feeling down.

15. Down and Out

If someone is “down and out,” they’re going through a tough time, often feeling hopeless and sad.

16. Drowning Sorrows

To “drown your sorrows” means to drink alcohol to try to forget your problems and sadness.

17. Feeling Like a Fifth Wheel

When you feel like a “fifth wheel,” you feel unneeded and out of place, which can make you sad.

18. Under the Weather

Usually, this means feeling sick, but it can also mean you’re feeling a bit down or sad.

19. It’s a Tough

This is often said by comedians when the audience is not responding well. It can symbolize feeling unappreciated or sad because you’re not getting the response you hoped for.

20. Out in the Cold

Being “out in the cold” means you’re left out or abandoned, often leaving you feeling sad or lonely.

In Songs

21. Catch-22

This means a no-win situation where you can’t resolve it without creating another issue. In a song, this could talk about feeling trapped in sadness without a way out.

22. Down in the Dumps

This is a way to say that someone is feeling very sad or depressed. In a song, it could be used to express a deep feeling of unhappiness or a low point in one’s life.

23. Heart on My Sleeve

This means showing your emotions openly, especially sadness or love. A song might use this idiom to show that the singer isn’t afraid to show their true feelings, even if it makes them vulnerable.

24. Cut to the Quick

This means to deeply hurt someone emotionally. In a song, it might be used to describe a love that ended badly, causing a lot of emotional pain.

25. Open Old Wounds

This means bringing up past pains or problems. If a song talks about opening old wounds, it’s usually mentioning how past issues have been brought up again, causing more sadness.

26. Drown My Sorrows

This means trying to forget your troubles, often by drinking alcohol. A song might use this phrase to show how the singer is dealing with their sadness in a not-so-healthy way.

27. Lose My Religion

In a song, this could describe feeling so overwhelmed by sadness or frustration that you can’t think clearly.

28. Throw in the Towel

This means to give up. In the context of a song, it could describe someone who is so overwhelmed by sadness or hardship that they feel like they can’t go on anymore.

29. Face the Music

This means to deal with the consequences of your actions. In a sad song, it could describe having to confront the pain or troubles that have come from past mistakes.

30. Achilles’ Heel

This means a weakness or vulnerable point. In a song, this could be used to describe someone’s emotional weak point that makes them particularly sensitive or prone to sadness.

31. Tread on Thin Ice

This means being in a risky situation. In a sad song, it could mean that someone is dangerously close to breaking down emotionally.

32. Pouring Salt on the Wound

This means to make a bad situation even worse. A song could express how someone is deliberately making another person’s emotional pain even more intense.

33. Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

This means going from a bad situation to an even worse one. In a song, this could highlight how someone’s life seems to be getting harder rather than easier.

34. Kick Someone When They’re Down

This means to hurt someone who is already struggling. A song might use this idiom to describe a situation where someone is taking advantage of another’s sadness.

35. Add Insult to Injury

This means to make a bad situation worse by saying or doing something cruel. In a song, it might describe a failed relationship where one person makes the other feel even worse.

36. At the End of My Rope

This means feeling like you can’t handle any more stress or sadness. A song might use this to describe a sense of emotional or mental exhaustion.

37. Swimming Against the Tide

This means struggling against overwhelming circumstances or opposition. A song might use this phrase to indicate a futile fight against sadness or challenges.

38. Cross to Bear

This means a burden or challenge that someone has to deal with. In a song, it might refer to a personal hardship or emotional baggage that makes life difficult.

39. Stabbed in the Back

This means to be betrayed by someone you trust. This idiom is often used in songs to describe the hurt that comes from betrayal, which leads to sadness or anger.

40. Throw Someone Under the Bus

This means to betray someone for personal gain. In a song, it could illustrate the feeling of being betrayed or abandoned, leading to sadness.

Used in Literature

41. Tears of a Clown

This means appearing happy on the outside but being sad on the inside. In books or stories, a character might be described this wafy to show that they’re hiding their true feelings of sadness.

42. Chasing Your Tail

This means to expend a lot of energy doing a lot of things but accomplishing little to nothing. A character in literature might feel like they’re “chasing their tail” in their attempts to escape sadness.

43. A Storm is Brewing

This idiom means that something bad is going to happen soon. In the context of a story, it could foreshadow that a character will soon face something that could make them very sad or troubled.

44. Lost in the Shuffle

This means to be overlooked or forgotten. A character in a story might feel this way if they believe their problems or emotions are being ignored, contributing to their sadness.

45. A Dagger to the Heart

This means something that causes great emotional pain. If a character in a book experiences “a dagger to the heart,” they’ve likely suffered a devastating emotional blow.

46. Cry Me a River

This means to complain a lot about something. In literature, it might be used sarcastically to a character who is wallowing in self-pity.

47. Flogging a Dead Horse

This means wasting time on something that won’t work or matter. In literature, this idiom might describe a character’s futile attempts to reverse a sad situation.

48. A Hard Nut to Crack

This means a problem that’s hard to solve or a person who’s difficult to understand. In a story, a character may find their emotional state to be “a hard nut to crack,” illustrating their complex sadness.

49. Skeletons in the Closet

This means secrets from the past that one wants to keep hidden. In literature, finding out such secrets could be the source of a character’s sorrow.

50. Nail in the Coffin

This means an event leading to inevitable failure or loss. A character in a novel may describe a sad event as “the final nail in the coffin” of their happiness.

51. Draw the Short Straw

This means to be chosen to do something that no one wants to do. In a story, a character who “draws the short straw” may face something that makes them unhappy or distressed.

52. Cut From the Same Cloth

This means very similar in characteristics or nature. In literature, this idiom may be used to describe characters who share the same sadness or tragic fate.

53. Be in the Same Boat

This means to be in the same bad situation as others. In a story, characters who are “in the same boat” might share the same misfortunes or sadness.

54. Fall from Grace

This means to lose status, respect, or prestige. In literature, this could describe a character’s journey from happiness or neutrality to a state of sorrow or despair.

55. Fly in the Ointment

This means a small problem that ruins the whole thing. A character in a novel might describe a turn of events as the “fly in the ointment” that made everything worse and led to their sadness.

56. Hold a Grudge

This means to keep feeling angry or sad because of something bad that happened in the past. Characters in stories may “hold grudges,” making it difficult for them to find happiness or peace.

57. Jump on the Bandwagon

This means to join a popular cause or activity. In a sad context within a book, a character may regret “jumping on the bandwagon” if it leads to unhappiness or strife.

58. Leave No Stone Unturned

This means to do everything possible to find something or solve a problem. In literature, a character might “leave no stone unturned” to find the root of their sorrow but still end up unhappy.

59. Burning the Midnight Oil

This means to work late into the night or early morning hours. In literature, a character might be described as “burning the midnight oil” while grappling with their emotional sorrows.

60. Open a Can of Worms

This means to start a complicated, problematic situation. In a story, a character might “open a can of worms” that leads to unforeseen sadness or chaos for themselves or others.

In Different Professions

61. Burning the Candle at Both Ends

This means working too hard and exhausting yourself. In a corporate setting, someone might say this if they are feeling drained and sad from overwork.

62. Miss the Boat

This means losing an opportunity. Someone working in transport might use this idiom to express regret over a missed opportunity that has made them unhappy.

63. Striking Out

This means failing at something. In the context of baseball or sports in general, striking out can also mean feeling defeated or down.

64. Biting the Dust

This means to fail or to fall down defeated. A farmer might say their crops have “bitten the dust” if a season is particularly bad, leading to disappointment and sorrow.

65. Sinking Ship

This means a failing project or situation. In a maritime context, calling something a “sinking ship” could indicate that morale is low and people are feeling disheartened.

66. Left in the Lurch

This means being abandoned or left in a difficult situation. A lawyer might feel “left in the lurch” if a case they’re heavily invested in falls apart, causing emotional distress.

67. Fishing in Troubled Waters

This means taking advantage of a chaotic situation. In the fishing industry, this could also mean facing hard times that cause a lot of stress and sadness.

68. On the Rocks

This means something is in trouble or jeopardy. A bartender might say a relationship is “on the rocks” if it’s not going well, causing unhappiness for those involved.

69. Chopping Block

This means being at risk of elimination or termination. A chef might feel their job is on the “chopping block,” causing stress and worry.

70. Under the Weather

This means feeling slightly ill or down. A meteorologist might use this phrase to describe their mood if they’re having a tough day at work.

71. Dead Air

This means an uncomfortable silence or a failure to proceed. In broadcasting, “dead air” could reflect a serious mistake or issue, leading to feelings of regret or sadness.

72. Off the Rails

This means going wrong or being severely disrupted. A train operator might say things have gone “off the rails” if there’s been a major disruption causing stress or unhappiness.

73. Code Blue

Although this is a term for a medical emergency, it can metaphorically mean a serious problem in other contexts. Healthcare professionals might use it to describe feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

74. In the Red

This means losing money or being in debt. A financial analyst could describe their portfolio as “in the red,” indicating a level of stress or sadness about their financial standing.

75. Lost in the Sauce

This means being overwhelmed or confused. A chef might use this phrase when they’re overwhelmed with work and feeling down.

76. Hang up One’s Boots

This means to retire or quit something. In many professions, saying someone has “hung up their boots” could indicate a sad or monumental change.

77. Cutting Corners

This means doing something poorly to save time or money. In construction, this could lead to safety risks, which could result in regret or sadness later on.

78. Out in Left

This means being irrelevant or far removed from what is happening. In a professional setting, feeling like you’re “out in left field” could result in feelings of isolation or sadness.

79. Going Down Like a Lead Balloon

This means being received very poorly. This idiom can describe a failed presentation, performance, or project that leads to public or personal disappointment.

80. Eating Humble Pie

This means admitting your errors and consequently feeling humiliated. In professions where reputation is key, having to “eat humble pie” can be a particularly bitter experience.

Seasonal or Holiday-Related Idioms

81. Snowed Under

This means being overwhelmed with work or responsibilities. During the winter holiday rush, someone might say they are “snowed under” when feeling stressed and down.

82. April Showers Bring May Flowers

Though this idiom is often positive, it signifies that difficult times (April showers) lead to happier ones (May flowers). However, when you’re in the midst of the “showers,” you might be feeling quite sad or troubled.

83. Out in the Cold

This means being ignored or left out. During holiday gatherings, someone might feel “out in the cold” if they aren’t included in activities or conversations, leading to feelings of sadness or loneliness.

84. A Cold Day in Hell

This means something is unlikely to ever happen. If someone says this during the holiday season, it might mean they’re feeling cynical and down about the chances of something positive happening.

85. Winter of Discontent

This means a period of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. People may feel a “winter of discontent” during the cold, dark months, especially if they are going through a tough time.

86. Haunted by the Past

This means being continually troubled by past mistakes or traumas. During Halloween, this phrase takes on a literal and metaphorical meaning and could indicate a feeling of lingering sadness.

87. Turn Over a New Leaf

This means making a fresh start. Despite its positive intention, failing to “turn over a new leaf” during autumn can leave one feeling disheartened.

88. Spring Fever

This describes a feeling of restlessness or excitement in the spring, but it can also mean a sense of longing or sadness for something new or different.

89. Christmas Blues

This describes feelings of loneliness or unhappiness during the Christmas season, which can be a tough time for many.

90. Raining Cats and Dogs

This means it’s raining very hard. For some, heavy rain can trigger a mood shift toward sadness or introspection.

91. Frozen Out

This means being deliberately excluded or ignored. During winter or holiday family gatherings, this can lead to feelings of isolation or sadness.

92. Lost in the Fog

This means being confused, disoriented, or unable to see clearly. In the context of the foggy autumn season, this could symbolize feeling lost or down.

93. Fall Flat on Your Face

This means to fail in a way that is embarrassing. In the context of the autumn season, full of changes and new beginnings, failing at something could make one feel especially disheartened.

94. Chasing Rainbows

This means pursuing unrealistic or unlikely goals. In the spring, when rainbows are more common, someone might use this phrase to talk about fruitless endeavors that lead to disappointment.

95. Leaf-Peeping Blues

While “leaf-peeping” is generally a happy activity of looking at fall foliage, the “blues” here refer to the sadness some people feel when the colors fade and winter approaches.

96. New Year’s Resolutions Gone Bust

This means failing to keep your New Year’s promises. Failing to stick to these resolutions can leave people feeling defeated and unhappy.

97. Melting Like a Snowman

This means losing resolve or courage. During the winter season, this idiom can signify a decline in spirit or motivation, akin to how a snowman melts away.

98. Autumn Years

This is a poetic way to talk about the later years of one’s life, which can sometimes be accompanied by feelings of sadness or nostalgia.

99. Sunburned Spirits

This is not a common idiom, but it could be understood to mean that someone is feeling down or out of sorts due to the challenges or heat of the summer.

100. Cracking Like Thin Ice

This means becoming emotionally fragile. In the harsh winter months, the phrase can describe a precarious emotional state, similar to how thin ice cracks easily.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful...

Share it on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author
Bea is an editor and writer with a passion for literature and self-improvement. Her ability to combine these two interests enables her to write informative and thought-provoking articles that positively impact society. She enjoys reading stories and listening to music in her spare time.