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​A Frog In The Throat The Meaning Of This Common Idiom

A photograph of a snake with a huge frog in its throat, used as the cover image for Article “A Frog In The Throat The Meaning Of This Common Idiom Cover Image”

​The idiom “A frog in my throat” means to have a croaky voice because of a sore or dry throat. Everyday English conversation is full of phrasal verbs and idioms. Using this English language is really a way for native English speakers to take shortcuts.

For example; rather than explain in great detail you have a medical condition, probably related to a cold which has resulted in a sore throat which is why my voice sounds croaky. You can just say (if someone notices you have a different sounding voice) “I have a frog in my throat” and they will most likely understand.

Just like phrasal verbs, English speakers can use idioms in several ways. Here the speaker is using an idiom to explain a croaky throat. However, the speaker could also use the idiom to explain a dry throat at a meeting or presentation which starts badly. You would also expect them to take a drink of water when they use the idiom “Sorry, I have a frog in my throat”.


​Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. This podcast is going out on a Thursday, so it’s our shorter, easier podcast – and don’t forget we also do a longer podcast on a Monday. As ever, listen to this podcast a number of times – you’ll find each time you listen to it that you understand more. And even with the words that you already understand, hearing them again will cement them in your mind. ‘Cement’ is a word which came up in a recent podcast about ‘Green Cake’ if you remember? If you ‘cement the words into your mind’, it means that they stick firm – you aren’t going to forget them.

​To have a frog in your throat means your throat is making frog like sounds because it is sore

​So, today’s subject? Well, how about an idiom? Let’s talk about having ‘a frog in your throat’. Or you could say that in English, there is a verb ‘to have a frog in your throat’. So ‘I have a frog in my throat, you have a frog in your throat, he has a frog in his throat’ etc. You get the picture. So first of all, let’s go through the vocabulary. Well a frog, F-R-O-G is an animal. They live in water, and also on land. Like vehicles, cars or trucks which can go in water or on land – animals that do both are called ‘amphibious’. That’s what amphibious means – and so frogs are amphibions. They’ve got long legs, so they can jump – and sometimes they make you jump, because they suddenly appear from nowhere! This happens to me when I’m gardening sometimes.

A photograph of a man struggling to speak because he has a frog in his throat. Used as an article image for the article “A frog In The Throat The Meaning Of This Common Idiom Article Image”

​I like frogs, but they’ll suddenly spring out from behind a plant pot – aah! Frogs also come from tadpoles – so a tadpole, T-A-D-P-O-L-E is a baby frog. But they’re unusual because they have a different form as a baby. Tadpoles are like little fish and survive under water, then they suddenly grow legs and need to breathe air. Also French people eat the legs of these animals – they eat frog’s legs. And yes, I’ve tried frog’s legs – they taste like chicken – which is what people often say when they try unusual meat! On a menu in a French restaurant they are called Cuisses de Grenouilles – which is actually ‘frog’s thighs’. The thigh, T-H-I-G-H being the top part of your leg, the meaty part, if you like! 

​You will not often see a ‘frog in my throat’ written down as a sentence, it’s something people say

So hopefully, you’ve no doubt now what kind of animal is a frog. And your throat? Well, your throat is inside your neck. T-H-R-O-A-T. And your neck is the part of your body that your head is attached to. So if you become ill with a cold or ‘flu – that’s influenza – then the part of your body where you may feel it is your throat. We say in English that you ‘have a sore throat’ – that means that your throat hurts. It’s also the part you use when you eat – when you eat your food, it goes down your throat.

So if you’ve got a frog in your throat, it means that your voice doesn’t sound the same as normal, because either you’re ill and your throat is affected or because you have something stuck in your throat. If you have a cough – [coughing], this affects your throat. If you are ill with a cold or a cough, then it’s possible that you’ll have something in your throat which is called phlegm. Now this is a bit ughh, so lets not dwell on it, let’s not stay with this subject too long.  Phlegm is a difficult word to spell – it’s P-H-L-E-G-M. And phlegm is the substance that’s in your throat if you’re ill and you cough. Ugh – I hate phlegm – makes me feel sick, let’s move on.

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​A frog in my throat is just a quick way of describing sore throat symptoms

So basically if you’ve got a frog in your throat, then it means that somehow your throat is affecting your speech and you may not sound the same as usual. Sometimes news readers or people speaking on the television, especially when it’s live TV, when it’s being broadcast immediately – they get a frog in their throat, which is really difficult if your job is to speak clearly. Or sometimes it happens because you’re nervous. If you’re in a big meeting at work and suddenly it’s your turn to speak, if you’re unlucky, you may find that you have ‘a frog in your throat’ when you try to speak. Well, if you’re speaking in English, you can now say ‘Excuse me, I seem to have a frog in my throat’ and people will know what you mean!

​Vocabulary Recap

​So to recap unusual vocabulary in this podcast  – well, the phrase ‘to have a frog in your throat’. The word ‘frog’ and the word ‘throat’, of course. And then I talked about the adjective ‘amphibious’ and the noun ‘amphibion’.  I talked about ‘tadpoles’ which are baby frogs – and about ‘frog’s legs’ which are a dish in a restaurant, if you like French food. ‘Cuisses de grenouilles’ – and the word ‘thigh’ being the top part of your leg. We also covered the difficult English word ‘phlegm’.


Let us know whether you like the idea of a ‘vocabulary recap’ at the end of the podcast. Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.


Adept English believes you need not know many phrasal verbs or idioms to get on in speaking everyday English. We only highlight phrasal verbs and idioms we hear in our own native English conversations so more advanced English language listeners can polish their English fluency.

Most new English language speakers should focus on and learn the 500 most common English words. This will mean you have learned 80% of the words needed to conduct English conversation. Once you have learned and are comfortable listening to spoken English with these 500 words, then and only then should you move on to specific English needed for your future English conversations.

When we say specific, we mean language vocabulary topics that would be useful to you. If you are learning to speak English for a job, then the words you should learn next would be about that job. If you are learning English for a holiday, then learn holiday vocabulary.

Then once you have a solid vocabulary which supports your English language speaking goals you can work on the phrasal verbs and idioms you are likely to encounter in your everyday English conversations.

​We have lots of other tips on learning to speak English .

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Hilary is an Adept English Editor and a founding member of the company.

This content was originally published here.

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