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"When Pigs Fly" English Idioms Explained

Have you ever heard the phrase "When pigs fly"? What does it mean? When should it be used? And is it outdated? As you learn English and start to use your English in conversation with others you may one day come across this puzzling and odd phrase.

"Mom do you think dad will let me drive his Ferrari when I get my drivers license?" "When pigs fly! You'll be lucky if he even lets you drive at all."

Have you ever seen a pig fly? No, because it's simply impossible. The only way this would be possible is if a pig booked a flight and went on an airplane. Then pigs could technically fly, but I don't think many airlines will allow the pigs on board. Maybe one day.


When people use the phrase "When pigs fly" what do they mean? Since it is impossible to see a pig fly, or for a pig to fly the meaning is exactly this: "it's never going to happen." We use this phrase to say that something will never happen, or when talking about things that have a very small chance of happening, basically it is highly unlikely happen. #whenpigsfly #whenpigsflymeaningexplained #whenpigsflyidiom #Englishidioms #idiomsexplained #Englishphrasesexplained

When to Use it

Often times this phrase is used to respond to another persons comment or statement, we say "when pigs fly" to show our disbelief. Meaning, we really don't think it will ever happen.

If someone says something that you think "no that is never going to happen" you can use your new phrase "when pigs fly."

Is this phrase outdated?

It is true that this phrase has been around since the 1600's, but it is still heard today. This isn't a phrase that many young people normally use, you will hear it with a more mature crowd of people. That doesn't mean a young person won't use it. Anyone can use it, as long as it makes sense with the context. If you're talking to your boss and he asks you to come in to work on the weekend but you already made plans with your family, this isn't an appropriate phrase to use, unless you're on a friendship level with your boss. This is a phrase you would use with people you are more acquainted with, such as close workmates, friends, and family.


1. "Would you like to date me?"

"HA! When pigs fly!" (terrible thing to say to someone, but good example)

2. "I asked my boss for a month's vacation he said when pigs fly."

3. "I guess I can expect you to clean your room when pigs fly?"

4. "I'll eat sushi when pigs fly."

5. "One day I'll become a famous actress." "And pigs might fly."

6. "He'll pay you back your money when pigs fly."

7. "Do you think Mrs. Sue will retire soon?" "When pigs fly! She loves her job!"

8. "Mom do you think dad will let me drive his Ferrari when I get my drivers license?" "When pigs fly! You'll be lucky if he even lets you drive at all."

9. "Do you think they'll let me work as a teacher?" "When pigs fly! You have to have a bachelors degree and 3 years experience to teach there."

10. "I'll travel the whole world when pigs fly."

Synonyms - Words and Phrases with similar meaning

- no

- not ever

- never

- not in a million years


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