Simple Definition of idiom
: an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own
: a form of a language that is spoken in a particular area and that uses some of its own words, grammar, and pronunciations
: a style or form of expression that is characteristic of a particular person, type of art, etc.
Full Definition of idiom
2 : an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (as no, it wasn't me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (as ride herd on for “supervise”)
3 : a style or form of artistic expression that is characteristic of an individual, a period or movement, or a medium or instrument <the modern jazz idiom>; broadly : manner, style <a new culinary idiom>
Examples of idiom
She is a populist in politics, as she repeatedly makes clear for no very clear reason. Yet the idiom of the populace is not popular with her. —P.J. O'Rourke, New York Times Book Review, 9 Oct. 2005
And the prospect of recovering a nearly lost language, the idiom and scrappy slang of the postwar period … —Don DeLillo, New York Times Magazine, 7 Sept. 1997
We need to explicate the ways in which specific themes, fears, forms of consciousness, and class relationships are embedded in the use of Africanist idiom … —Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark, 1992
The expression “give way,” meaning “retreat,” is an idiom.
rock and roll and other musical idioms
a feature of modern jazz idiom
Origin of idiom
Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French idiome, from Late Latin idioma individual peculiarity of language, from Greek idiōmat-, idiōma, from idiousthai to appropriate, from idios
First Known Use: 1588
IDIOM Defined for Kids
Definition of idiom
: an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but must be learned as a whole <The expression “give up,” meaning “surrender,” is an idiom.>
Seen and Heard
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