idiomatic

adjective

id·​i·​o·​mat·​ic ˌi-dē-ə-ˈma-tik How to pronounce idiomatic (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or conforming to idiom
2
: peculiar to a particular group, individual, or style
idiomatically adverb
idiomaticness noun

Did you know?

The speech and writing of a native-born English-speaker may seem crude, uneducated, and illiterate, but will almost always be idiomatic—that is, a native speaker always sounds like a native speaker. For a language learner, speaking and writing idiomatically in another language is the greatest challenge. Even highly educated foreign learners—professors, scientists, doctors, etc.—rarely succeed in mastering the kind of idiomatic English spoken by an American 7th-grader.

Examples of idiomatic in a Sentence

the new teacher's idiomatic approach to dealing with special-needs students is already showing signs of success
Recent Examples on the Web To be sure, the pause in the action highlighted the brilliant work of the Royal Opera orchestra, under the fluid, idiomatic baton of Antonio Pappano. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 25 Sep. 2023 Crafting great light verse and song lyrics is the white-water rafting of our language: small, regular eruptions of self-conscious wit oar against a steady stream of idiomatic speech. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 23 May 2022 Young Norwegians tend to speak idiomatic American English. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 23 June 2023 Textual analysis came naturally to the industry’s sleuths, some of whom claimed to detect a Germanic cadence in the thief’s writing or an idiomatic French syntax. Vulture, 6 Jan. 2022 This is partially because no single API is available on all systems, but also because many concepts (such as extremely low-level memory management) aren’t idiomatic for a web-facing API. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 7 Apr. 2023 Better yet, Janda and Carney can discuss nuanced issues while maintaining an endearing level of silliness; see Janda’s inability to remember idiomatic expressions or his relatable desire to land on the Hot Guys Who Read Instagram. Jesse David Fox, Vulture, 29 Mar. 2023 Fortuna released two more records in 2022; the hip-hop inflected Entre Luna y Babia, produced with Dominican jazz prodigy Isaac Hernández, and lush acoustic compendium ETAQUETÚVES, which explored the many musical, idiomatic, and culinary bonds between Africa and the diaspora. Richard Villegas, Rolling Stone, 28 Feb. 2023 Kennedy sprinkles in more idiomatic vocabulary – geg, neb, snatter, wheeker, pokes, marleys – to make her characters’ exchanges ring true. Malcolm Forbes, Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'idiomatic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1712, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of idiomatic was in 1712

Dictionary Entries Near idiomatic

Cite this Entry

“Idiomatic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idiomatic. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

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