Friday, August 26, 2016

The Language of Idioms


We use them everyday, knowingly or unknowingly. Maybe you know them differently, perhaps you call them cliches or catch phrases. But they are officially known as idioms.

When my youngest daughter was in Second Grade (she's a Sophomore in High School now) her teacher did a phrase a week. She took a common idiom and taught the children about what it meant. Logically the phrases make no sense but figuratively they hold a truth. I loved it. I loved that this teacher was helping children learn about this strange part of our language.

Earlier this year I was on track for this next installment of 365 when an idiom, I can't recall which one right now, threw me off the track I was on and set the course for this 365. For the next 365 days I'll share an idiom a day with you. Maybe we'll learn some new ones together or maybe one that we've heard for years will finally make sense. It's quite possible we will hear ourselves saying them more often or hear others saying them. Of course I'll do my best to make this journey through idioms fun and engaging, not dry and dull.

But let's geek out just for today, the intro day of this 365, on idioms - what are they and why do they exist?
An idiom is a phrase or a fixed expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. An idiom's figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning.
[1] There are thousands of idioms, and they occur frequently in all languages. It is estimated that there are at least twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions in the English language.
[2] Idioms fall into the category of formulaic language.  (source
The history of idioms and how they transformed from literal to figurative is not something easily pinpointed. They generally would start with a literal meaning and through use and time would take on a figurative meaning. With each day's idiom I will provide the origin of the idiom and then the modern day meaning.

Still unsure what I mean when I say idiom?  Here's a few examples...

So let's get this party started!

*(Click here for a simple definition)

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