7 Smoking & smoke idioms 

These seven smoking and smoke idioms are all very common in English.

Firstly, what is smoke? Smoke is the cloudy gray or black mixture of air and carbon that comes out of something that is burning or smoldering.

One characteristics of smoke is that it is difficult to see through because it's cloudy and this meaning is reflected in several of these smoke idiom examples.

In case you have forgotten what idioms are, you will find this infographic very helpful. In short, idioms are expressions for a group of words that all together have a fixed or set meaning. This meaning is different than if you looked up the words separately in the dictionary.

An infographic with definitions and sentence examples of the 7 smoke-related idioms listed on this page.

More sentence examples

It's always helpful to read a few example sentences when you learn a new idiom. It really helps to see the idiom in context.

where there's smoke there's fire:  If there are signs a rumor is true, it's probably at least partially true.

  • My daughter said the cigarette smell on her clothes is because her classmate's father smokes, but I'm not sure—where there's smoke there's fire .
  • John called in sick today but Sharon saw him at the airport. He told her he had promised to pick up his aunt but I don't know. Where there's smoke there's fire.
  • You boyfriend was talking to his ex-girlfriend again yesterday. You should confront him. As they say, where there's smoke there's fire .

put/stick that in your pipe and smoke it:  A rude way to emphasize to someone they must accept a situation or outcome, even if they don't like or agree with it.

  • When I drive, I get to decide the route so you can put that in your pipe and smoke it.
  • My assistant told me she's taking off next week to go to a music festival and if I don't like it, I can stick that in my pipe and smoke it!
  • I pay the rent and bills around here so when I tell you to do your homework you can stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

holy smoke(s)!:  An exclamation used to say you're surprised, pleased, or amazed.

  • Holy smokes! Caeleb Dressel set a world record of 49.45 seconds in the 100m butterfly.
  • Mr. Johnson lost at least 150 pounds. Holy smoke, he looks ten years younger. 
  • Holy smokes. I cannot believe you were on time for work every day this week. Well done.

smoke like a chimney:  to continuously smoke a large amount of tobacco.

  • My father smoked like a chimney for 35 years.
  • How can your boyfriend still smoke like a chimney in 2021? Doesn't he believe in science?
  • Would you believe that my grandmother used to smoke like a chimney? That's why her teeth are so disgusting.

go up in smoke:  something important that doesn't happen (as if it were destroyed by a fire).

  • My dream of going to prom went up in smoke because of the Coronavirus.
  • my vacation plans went up in smoke when two people in my office suddenly quit last week and they needed my help.
  • The company's profits will go up in smoke if these rumors are true.

smoking gun:  evidence that clearly proves a crime or that someone is guilty of something.

  • It wasn't hard to learn who stole the cupcakes. The chocolate on my daughter's face was the smoking gun.
  • In the end, there was no smoking gun. The killer just confessed and showed us where he hid the body.
  • The used condom wrapper I found in his suitcase was the smoking gun. My husband had no excuse this time that he wasn't cheating on me.

smoke and mirrors:  Misleading information used to obscure the truth, deceive or confuse people.

  • This free weekend offer is just smoke and mirrors to get us to buy a vacation club membership.
  • You mean this contest is all smoke and mirrors? We could be in big trouble if a real winner isn't give the prize.
  • The budget for this project is smoke and mirrors. They're really using a large portion of the funds for another project.
  • That MasterCard statement he showed me was just smoke and mirrors. Although he paid that one card off, he didn't tell me there were four more joint credit cards he'd opened in our name. We're $38,000 more in debt!

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