Definition of idiom
2 : an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (such as no, it wasn't me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (such as ride herd on for “supervise”)
Examples of idiom in a Sentence
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
Recent Examples of idiom from the Web
This restaurant is billed as an ode to the Mississippi Delta region, whose cuisine is distinctly different from other Southern idioms; think spicy tamales and catfish, rather than shrimp and grits and cornbread.
In an increasingly homogenized world, Appalachia remains truly distinctive—in its culture, its idioms, its struggles.
Even in gospel music — an idiom long noted for producing galvanizing singers —Atlanta-bred Tasha Cobbs is a force of almost superhuman nature.
There’s an original score by Adam Crystal, contemporary-classical in idiom, with aspects of minimalism and melody.
In September 2003, the teens decided to test out the chicken idiom and purchased machetes, kitchen knives and a hatchet from Wal-Mart.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'idiom'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
If you had never heard someone say "We're on the same page," would you have understood that they weren't talking about a book? And the first time someone said he'd "ride shotgun", did you wonder where the gun was? A modern English-speaker knows thousands of idioms, and uses many every day. Idioms can be completely ordinary ("first off", "the other day", "make a point of", "What's up?") or more colorful ("asleep at the wheel", "bite the bullet", "knuckle sandwich"). A particular type of idiom, called a phrasal verb, consists of a verb followed by an adverb or preposition (or sometimes both); in make over, make out, and make up, for instance, notice how the meanings have nothing to do with the usual meanings of over, out, and up.
Origin and Etymology 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: 1588See Words from the same year
IDIOM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of idiom for English Language Learners
: 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.
IDIOM Defined for Kids
Definition of idiom for Students
: 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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