Word for Wednesday: Idiom

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Last week we looked at the origins of the word language and today we’re going to continue on that theme with the word idiom

Idioms are an expressive way of using language. They are combinations of word which have a figurative meaning that is separate for the actual definitions of the words used. 

Here are some examples of idioms and what they mean:

1) fly on the wall  
    an unnoticed witness 
    I’d love to be a fly on the wall when she finally tells them the truth.  

2) storm in a teacup
    a small occurrence exaggerated out of proportion
    All this outrage seems like a storm in a teacup to me.

3) ahead of the curve
    ahead of trends/the current state of thinking 
    He was always ahead of the curve when it came to fashion.

What’s fascinating about idioms is that, because they are born from cultural and historical context, they vary from language to language Click here for some examples of idioms from other languages.

The word idiom has been used in English since the 1580s to mean ‘form of speech peculiar to a people or place’ and since the 1620s to mean ‘phrase or expression peculiar to language’. It comes from the Middle French ‘idiome’, from the Late Latin ‘idioma’ meaning ‘a peculiarity in language’, from the Greek ‘idioma’ meaning ‘peculiar phraseology’.

Over the years we’ve written many articles about idioms over on the blog. You can find them by searching the blog archive.




Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary

26 Feb 2020
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