|Group of words with a meaning of its own that is different from the meanings of each individual word in the group (for example, | |‘It's raining cats and dogs’ means ‘It's raining heavily’ and kick the bucket means ‘to die’); also a style of expression in | |writing, speech, or music that is typical of a particular period, place, or person (for example, ‘a piece of music composed in | |the modern idiom’). |
|Many idioms are used only in spoken and informal language, for example dropping like flies (when many people are becoming ill or | |dying from the same illness). Others, such as the salt of the earth (people having praiseworthy qualities), are acceptable in | |more formal contexts. |
|The words in an idiom are more or less fixed. This means that they cannot be changed; for example, ‘raining geese and goats’ | |cannot be used instead of ‘raining cats and dogs’ to mean ‘raining heavily’, and kick the pail cannot be used instead of kick the| |bucket for the meaning ‘to die’. In other idioms, the words are less fixed; for example, something can be said to be selling or | |going like hot cakes when it is selling very well. |
An idiom, or idiomatic expression, is a phrase or term whose meaning cannot be guessed from a literal definition of the words. If you look up the individual words, the phrase will not make much sense. There are many good websites that will give you lists of slang terms and idioms. WikiAnswers cannot give you a list of 20 or 100 idioms for your assignments. Here are some Related Links to get you started!
Idioms and idiomatic phrases
There are really two types of idioms:
1) idiomatic expressions whose literal meanings are nonsensical and do not mean their figurative meanings, such as "The police informant spilled the beans," "It's 100 miles away as the crow flies," "John sounded serious but said it tongue in cheek," "At the party, Jane made a long speech off the cuff," "The cops were on a fishing expedition for evidence"; and 2) short phrases that have peculiar syntax and word usage, usually involving prepositions. Examples include: "The remote control is in back of the couch," "When the bell rang, Bob answered the door," "I had to look up the word in the dictionary," "Mary doesn't get along with her sister," "We proceded with our plans in spite of the weather."
A specialized vocabulary used by a group of people; jargon: legal idiom. A style or manner of expression peculiar to a given people:
A style of artistic expression characteristic of a particular individual, school, period, or medium: the idiom of the French impressionists; the punk rock idiom. In the English language expression to kick the bucket, for example, a listener knowing only the meaning of kick and bucket would be unable to deduce the expression's actual meaning, which is to die. Although it can refer literally to the act of striking a specific bucket with a foot, native speakers rarely use it that way. It cannot be directly translated to other languages - for example, the same expression in Polish is to kick the calendar, with the calendar being as detached from its usual meaning as the bucket in the English phrase is. The same expression in Dutch is het loodje leggen (to lay the piece of lead), which is entirely different from the English expression, too. Other expressions include break a leg, crossing the Rubicon and fit as a fiddle. It is estimated that William Shakespeare coined over 2,000 idioms still in use today. Idioms hence tend to confuse those not already familiar with them; students of a new language must learn its idiomatic expressions the way they learn its other...
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