1 a manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language [syn: parlance]
2 the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people; "the immigrants spoke an odd dialect of English"; "he has a strong German accent" [syn: dialect, accent]
3 the style of a particular artist or school or movement; "an imaginative orchestral idiom" [syn: artistic style]
4 an expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up [syn: idiomatic expression, phrasal idiom, set phrase, phrase]
- A phrase
characteristic of a particular language, that cannot necessarily be
fully understood from the separate meanings of the individual words
which form it, but instead must be learned as a whole unit of
- You can't translate "kick the bucket" word for word into French with the same meaning because it's an idiom.
- A manner of speaking, a way of expressing oneself.
- An artistic style (for example, in art, architecture, or music).
- An instance of such a style.
- A communicative system under study, which could be called either a dialect or a language, when its status as a language or dialect is irrelevant.
- A programming technique which experienced programmers in a language are assumed to know.
phrase that cannot be understood from its component words
- Arabic: ,
- Chinese: 成语 (chéng yǔ)，习惯用语 (xí guàn yòng yǔ)
- Czech: idiom
- Danish: idiom
- Dutch: idioom, taaleigen
- Esperanto: idiotismo
- French: idiotisme
- Georgian: იდიომი (idiomi)
- German: Idiom, Redewendung
- Greek: ιδίωμα
- Hebrew: מטבע לשון g Hebrew
- Hungarian: idióma
- Interlingua: idiotismo, idioma
- Italian: frase idiomatica , locuzione , modo di dire , espressione idiomatica
- Japanese: 熟語, 成句
- Korean: 숙어 (熟語, suk-eo)
- trreq Persian
- Polish: idiom
- Portuguese: idioma, expressão idiomática
- Russian: идиома , идиоматический оборот , идиоматическое выражение
- Spanish: modismo, frase hecha
- Swedish: idiom
- Thai: (sămnuan)
- Turkish: deyim
manner of speaking
style of art, etc
- Japanese: 様式
instance of such style
specific property of any language
- Japanese: 方言, 訛り
An idiom is a term or phrase whose meaning cannot be deduced from the literal definitions and the arrangement of its parts, but refers instead to a figurative meaning that is known only through common use. In linguistics, idioms are widely assumed to be figures of speech that contradict the principle of compositionality; however, this has shown to be a subject of debate. It may be better to refer to idioms as John Saeed does: words collocated together happen to become fossilized, becoming fixed over time. This collocation -- words commonly used in a group -- changes the definition of each of the words that exist. As an expression, the word-group becomes a team, so to speak. That is, the collocated words develop a specialized meaning as a whole and an idiom is born e.g. He really threw me a curve when on our first date he asked if I could pay for the dinner. Note, in some cultures, when a man and a woman are courting each other, the male is traditionally the one who takes up the bill or pays the bill; however, times change and in many modern societies, a lot of couples go Dutch (yet another idiom).
In the English 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 kopnąć w kalendarz (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 and fit as a fiddle. It is estimated that William Shakespeare coined over 9,000 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 vocabulary. Many natural language words have idiomatic origins, but have been sufficiently assimilated so that their figurative senses have been lost.
Idioms and cultureAn idiom is generally a colloquial metaphor — a term which requires some foundational knowledge, information, or experience, to use only within a culture where parties must have common reference. Idioms are therefore not considered a part of the language, but rather a part of the culture. As cultures are typically localized, idioms are more often not useful for outside of that local context. However some idioms can be more universally used than others, and they can be easily translated, metaphorical meaning can be more easily deduced.
The most common idioms can have deep roots, date back many centuries, and be traceable across many languages. Many have translations in other languages, and tend to become international.
While many idioms are clearly based in conceptual metaphors such as "time as a substance", "time as a path", "love as war" or "up is more", the idioms themselves are often not particularly essential, even when the metaphors themselves are. For example, "spend time", "battle of the sexes", and "back in the day" are idiomatic and based in essential metaphors. These "deep metaphors" and their relationship to human cognition are discussed by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in their 1980 book Metaphors We Live By.
In forms like "profits are up", the metaphor is carried by "up" itself. The phrase "profits are up" is not itself an idiom. Practically anything measurable can be used in place of "profits": "crime is up", "satisfaction is up", "complaints are up" etc. Truly essential idioms generally involve prepositions, for example "out of" or "turn into".
Interestingly, many Chinese characters are likewise idiomatic constructs, as their meanings are more often not traceable to a literal (i.e. pictographic) meaning of their assembled parts, or radicals. Because all characters are composed from a relatively small base of about 214 radicals, their assembled meanings follow several different modes of interpretation - from the pictographic to the metaphorical to those whose original meaning has been lost in history. It may be a feature that helps everyday life.
Second language's English—using idiom to refer to language.