What is an idiom?
An idiom is a set phrase made up of two or more
words that mean something other than the literal
I am not
Why do we have these?
No one really knows why these exist or where they all
began, but every culture seems to have their own
idioms or expressions. The English language has so
many of these that those learning our language often
look at us like we’ve lost our minds when we use
Think about this: You meet some one from another
country who is learning our language. You extend
your hand and begin to introduce yourself, but you
have a frog in your throat and you say as much. Can
you imagine their chagrin when you declare, “Eh
hem…sorry, I had a frog in my throat!”
A little fun and games
Idioms can be quite fun and useful too when writing.
They are a good use of imagery when trying to
describe attitudes, behaviors, and when you are
trying to draw your reader’s attention to a point you
feel is important to your work.
For example, when using the idiom, He was beating
a dead horse, you might be pointing out the
uselessness of a politician’s promises if the issue is
no longer relevant.
Here are some common idioms
I am buried under my work.
Sandy is a very down to earth kind of person.
The family was killed in cold blood.
He is up to his neck in debt.
She is from the wrong side of the tracks.
Finding her phone number in this mess is like
finding a needle in a haystack!
As you can see from how we use idioms in simple
conversations, they add more interest to the
conversation and provide an ample description of a
situation, behavior or personal trait.
Her hair is like a lion’s mane. (Really, it is.)
We can actually convey our meaning in a
unique way when we use idioms in an
appropriate and relevant way.
Real world examples:
Let’s look at some idioms in To Kill a Mockingbird:
"I thought Jem was counting his chickens“ (Lee 238).
Or in Of Mice and Men…
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