Every language has its own unique selection of sayings that each hold an underlying principle or idea. Idioms — as they are called — are a combination of words that bear a figurative meaning, which is oftentimes a lot different from its literal interpretation. These expressions have been widely used for years in order to craft a variety of literary works creatively.
While the use of idioms has its way of giving character to our language, a lot of people remain reluctant in incorporating idioms to their works. This is carried by the fear of the inability of readers to fully comprehend a given expression and the struggle to use these correctly in a sentence. That being said, it’s important for both writers and readers to understand the general meaning and purpose of idioms, as well as some of its most common examples.
Artists add life to their artworks with colors and texture, while writers “add color” to their writings with idioms and other figurative speech.
For centuries, some of the greatest writers in the world have used various idiomatic expressions to paint powerful pictures for their audience to enjoy. In doing so, they are able to emphasize the main point of their message and draw in readers without much effort. But you must be wondering, how does this happen?
Before we go any further into the discussion, let us first assess these two examples:
It’s time to go to bed.
It’s time to hit the sack.
Based from the given statements, the first sentence is considered to be boring and mediocre. There’s nothing exciting about it, as it simply means exactly what it sounds like. As for the latter, incorporating an idiomatic expression to the sentence gives it life. It prompts a reader to think beyond what is just written on print. Idioms give us the opportunity to express ourselves in ways that the standard English language cannot. It offers us an artistic edge that only those with a creative mind can come up with. This form of creative imagery allows a person’s imagination to run wild and think out of the box.
Think about how life would be if idioms never existed. It would be difficult for us to respond sarcastically to certain situations without trying to offend anyone. People who do possess a unique sense of humor have come to realize how useful idioms can be to describe certain characters and scenarios lightly. So instead of telling a person that you have no idea what to do, you simply say “your guess is as good as mine.” This may also make a character seem more realistic and believable, especially when you don’t want readers to take everything too seriously.
Using idioms in its right context is an excellent way to turn a bland piece of writing into an impressive one. As a writer, incorporating idiomatic expressions to your work can happen nonchalantly. In fact, you might not be aware of the number of idioms you have used in your articles and other literary works because of how they come naturally to us. However, one must keep in mind that using one too many idioms on a single write-up may ruin its overall essence. It becomes distracting for a reader to fully comprehend the message you’re trying to convey. Not using it in its proper context may relay a different message as well. So for you to improve your writing style, it would be best to have a list of idioms prepared just in case.
When it comes to idiomatic expressions, you should never take anything literally. Idioms typically have a hidden meaning that one must decipher to fully understand. For example, the term “once in a blue moon” refers to an event or opportunity that may rarely come by. So when it does occur, you might as well take advantage of it.
However, there are a few instances when idioms can be quite transparent in meaning. During these cases, a person can quickly interpret the idiom’s general meaning without having to dig any deeper. But idioms tend to be a bit confusing for some people, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the native language. This is usually shared among a group of individuals with the same interests and culture. Because of how broad idioms can be, it’s important for people who want to learn a new language to see idioms as a part of a vocabulary. If somethings seems unfamiliar to you, always ask before you make assumptions. Otherwise, you might end up offending someone with the misuse of an idiom.
The use of idioms is not exclusive to just poetry and storytelling, as they may also be incorporated in everyday expressions. These days, people typically learn idioms based on the language of a given community. So here’s a list of some of the most frequently-used idioms and their respective meanings:
It certainly does take two to tango, otherwise a person could just be spinning around a dance floor all alone. But when it comes to idiomatic expressions, it revolves around the idea where both parties involved in a given situation are fully responsible for it. For instance, a relationship between two individuals can only last if both entities do their part. If something bad happens and it all falls apart, there’s no way of fixing it unless the two make an effort to make it work.
You know when you start telling a story to a friend you haven’t seen in awhile, then mid-way you realize how you’ve been blabbering for a solid ten minutes so you decide to just wrap things up? This is a common phrase used to tell how a story ends without giving much detail of how it came to be in the first place. One disadvantage about using this expression in a conversation is how you leave out important information that a listener may want to know about.
We all see things differently and we all have our own opinions on certain matters. But if you see eye to eye with someone, then it simply means that you both agree on something.
Let’s take this for example. A son decides to drop out of college and move to New York to pursue his career in music. His mom, on the other hand, believes he’s making a huge mistake and that he’ll only end up feeling disappointed with himself. In this case, the two individuals do not share the same vision and therefore do not see eye to eye.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
If you’re familiar with the Confucian version of the Golden Rule, then it’s easy to associate such with this idiomatic expression. When we treat others unpleasantly like the way they’ve been treating us — otherwise known as giving them a taste of their own medicine — it is then that they realize how it truly feels to be in that position. After all, nobody knows what it’s like to be stepped on unless they’re the ones lying on the ground.
After successfully completing a task given to us, we often use this phrase to express how simple and easy it was to accomplish. While not everything in life is as easy as it seems, saying that it was “a piece of cake” shows how we may have overestimated the job and that it really isn’t as difficult as we thought it would be.
Let’s be real, have you ever seen a pig just casually fly by? Well, of course not. It’s not possible and it probably never will be unless some animal mutation experiment goes horribly wrong. The idiom, “when pigs fly”, simply implies that a given circumstance can never occur no matter what you do or say about it. But if something that was once deemed impossible does happen, this statement is added to indicate a sarcastic yet humorous reaction. Like other hyperbole examples, this idiomatic expression is used to scoff at ambitious plans that are too difficult to reach.
Imagine if Corgi puppies and Persian cats started falling from the sky.
Unfortunately, even if we do wish for it to happen, kid-friendly idioms should never been taken literally. “It’s raining cats and dogs” actually refers to heavy rainfall. The origin of this phrase has been debated on for years, with some saying it derives from mythology while others believe it was coined due to how dead animals somehow flood the streets after a fierce storm.
There are moments when we find ourselves staring blankly into space, just completely lost in thought. When this happens, somebody gets us out of the trance we are in with the words, “A penny for your thoughts?”
It’s a popular phrase people use to ask what another person is thinking about. It’s a subtle way of finding out what goes on inside a person’s head, especially when they aren’t acting their usual self around you.
During campaign periods, politicians have developed a habit of making promises to entice voters. Sadly, these are merely empty promises that never seem to follow through once they are in office.
In life, what you do matters more than what you say. You can tell a person you love them but if you fail to prove it through your actions, then how do you expect a person to believe you? Keep in mind that a single act is worth more than a thousand words.
One of the most frustrating things in life has to involve starting over. When a plan fails to meet its desired expectations, then it’s back to the drawing board for you. This portrays one’s determination to keep moving forward even when things don’t end the way we want them to. So even it doesn’t work out at first, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it another try.
There comes a time when we feel extremely desperate over a given situation that nothing but a drastic action can possibly resolve it. Similar to when a business begins to perform poorly in the market. Because of the decrease in sales and profit, the company is forced to lay off over a dozen employees in order to survive. The phrase was said to be derived from the popular saying of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, who once stated, “For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure, as to restriction, are most suitable.”
Basketball season is coming. The playoffs has always been a much-waited sports event for basketball-lovers and sports enthusiasts alike. However, it’s also the season of disloyal sports “fans” and self-proclaimed critics and analysts. Social media has become the ideal platform for these individuals, where suddenly everybody knows what they’re talking about, even without proper knowledge of the sport itself. In this scenario, people “jump on the bandwagon” so they wouldn’t feel left out from all the buzz.
This idiom usually puts things into a negative perspective. Anything that goes along the lines of this expression means that the speaker would never dare to do the action in question. This exaggerates a person’s opinion on a given matter yet accurately reflects how an individual strongly feels about it.
Idioms have always been a significant part of our language, but must never be taken word-for-word. These expressions make our language a lot more enjoyable to learn and allow us to express ourselves creatively through words. Although idioms are considered to be an informal social language, they still add color to our statements. But if you ever encounter any trouble understanding these expressions, then you might want to focus on how these were used in a sentence instead.