Idioms to Say that Two Things or Situations are Totally Different


A very different animal

A completely different animal

An entirely different animal

You can easily write essays.  But writing a speech is an entirely different animal.

You can understand drug addiction.  But porn addiction is a completely different animal.

A different ballgame

A new ballgame

A whole new ballgame 

Totally different ballgame

[completely different from what one is used to]

I am a teacher, but teaching your own child is a new ballgame.

Living in a different country is a new ballgame for most teenage students.

We used to travel during weekends, but once we bought the dog, it's a whole new ballgame.


(as) different as chalk and cheese

As different as night and day

Buying the same present will not work.  The two brothers are as different as chalk and cheese.


A horse of another color

A horse of a different color

I have always found science very interesting.  But organic chemistry is a horse of different color.

March to the beat of a different drummer

March to a different drummer

March to a different drum

[Believe in a different set of principles]

We used to agree on matters of faith.  But these days I think she is marching to a different drummer.

Sing a different song/tune

Sing another tune

Change one's tune 

Whistle a different tune

[change one's opinion, attitude or behavior abruptly]

He was supporting our candidate until yesterday.  But now he is singing a different song all on a sudden.

He was generally very pessimistic.  But after his accident, he is whistling a different tune.

[Sing the same tune/song means 'express the same opinion']

Tell a different story/tale

[provide conflicting information]

The press release says that the company is progressing; but the annual report tells a different story.


Speak the same / a  different language

[have the same / different views]

When it comes to investing money, Jane and her husband speak a different language.

Jane and her brother don't speak the same language when it comes to politics.

A different kettle of fish

[Completely unlike another thing that you mentioned]

Physics and Chemistry, I can manage.  But Trigonometry is a different kettle of fish altogether.

You may be  able to write good English, but speaking is a different kettle of fish.


Something else entirely

[A completely different situation or circumstance] 

Making a few mistakes is one thing, but submitting a report full of errors is something else entirely.

Taking a day off is OK, but not reporting for work the whole week is something else entirely.

Having a smoke once in a while, I can understand.  But taking hardcore drugs at your age is something else entirely.

Something else again.

[Can be used in the similar situations as above]

Like oil and water

[Two things that do not go well together]

From the TV debate I conclude that politics and common sense are as compatible as oil and water.

After the divorce, his parents were oil and water and refused to be mixed.

At loggerheads

Be a far cry from

be (in)/out of tune with

not be in the same class

stick/stand out like a sore thumb

Swim against/(with) the tide

Stand/be in contrast to

Go against the grain

Be in a different class from

Not on the same page

Cut from (the same) / a different cloth


A new frontier / territory

[Beyond the present state of knowledge]


Uncharted territory

[A situation or circumstance that is unfamiliar] 

Stock investing is an uncharted territory for us, so be cautious!






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