Idioms & SimilesAs with similes, idioms are figurativeexpressions – phrases that do not have directmeanings.When you say to a person that hes as swiftas a arrow, does it mean that hes reallyrunning at that speed?You cannot take this meaning directly but itjust means that hes really fast!Idioms are a group of words that contain afigurative meaning – meaning which isbased on an image (from figure) or in regardto a common use of the expression.
IdiomsPeople tend to be bored with pages afterpages of dull, uninteresting language.So its important that you pepper figurativespeeches like similes and idioms to enlivenyour essays.Some examples of idioms are given next.
IdiomsA lively use of idioms is given below.I would like to clear the air about why David is inhot soup. It is because he has caused the boss tosee red in giving free samples to all and sundry.He is now caught between the devil and the deepblue sea whether he should leave the company orstay behind.Compare this version to:I would like to explain why David is in trouble.This is because he angered the boss by givingaway free samples to everyone and now hes in adilemma whether he should leave the company orstay.
IdiomsAs you would have probably guessed, idiomshelp the writer to convey the intendedmessage indirectly, in consideration of otherpeoples feelings.It is often used as a cultural tool.Where it is polite to do so, or respectful,idioms are used to convey a subtlemessage.Due to its colourful language, character andvariety, idioms help also to enliven thespeech/text, turning ordinary language into alively and engaging one!
Benefits of Idioms● Similar to similes, it helps to enliven ones speech or written works.● It colours and varies ones language, making it more interesting to the listener or reader.● It also has the effect of making a difficult situation more manageable, helping to diffuse conflicts or making a sad event less so.
Learning Activity● Say what these idioms mean.1) Clear the air2) In hot soup3) To see red4) All and sundry5) Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea● Hint: You can think about the mental images they represent to guess the meaning.
Learning Activity Answers● These idioms mean:1) Clear the air – clear the confusion; we can see clearly once the fog departs2) In hot soup – in deep trouble; not a pleasant situation to be immersed in such soup3) To see red – angered; red represents anger4) All and sundry – everyone; it means an indeterminate number5) Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea – caught in a dilemma; both these options are not viable
Discussion● Whats an idiom?● What can idioms do?● How do we remember an idiom or guess the meaning of one?
Summary● An idiom is a common group of words that contain figurative meaning● They help to enliven speech or written works – formal or informal.● We can remember or guess an unfamiliar idiom through the mental image it represents.