idiom

noun
id·​i·​om | \ ˈi-dē-əm How to pronounce idiom (audio) \
plural idioms

Definition of idiom

1 : an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (such as up in the air for "undecided") or in its grammatically atypical use of words (such as give way)
2a : the language peculiar to a people or to a district, community, or class : dialect
b : the syntactical, grammatical, or structural form peculiar to a language
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

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Synonyms for idiom

Synonyms

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The Makeup of Idioms

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.

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
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Recent Examples on the Web While the exterior is a study in brutalism, the interior, though still modern, embodies a softer, more inviting idiom. Michael Alpiner, Forbes, 5 Apr. 2021 In curating the contemporary selection, the aim was diversity in all senses of the term, with respect to medium, progressive idiom, generation, ethnic background and geography. Chadd Scott, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2021 Google’s system, the company confirmed, but were eventually flagged and the name reverted back to its revolutionary idiom. James Freeman, WSJ, 26 Feb. 2021 Gallier devised a magnificent temple-like edifice of the Greek architectural idiom, the likes of which had been popular in the Northeast since the late 1700s but remained little known in New Orleans until the 1820s. Richard Campanella, NOLA.com, 6 Feb. 2021 Singer, a company that is definitely not in cahoots with Porsche and our lawyers advise us should never be remotely represented as such, is building a new model in the off-road idiom. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 5 Jan. 2021 In other words, pugilist prose offers an idiom of flamboyant irrelevance. Theodore Gioia, The New Republic, 16 Dec. 2020 A few days ago, a friend taught me a Spanish idiom: vergüenza ajena. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, 11 Dec. 2020 Managing the low end requires more nuance, more care than any idiom. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, 28 Nov. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of idiom

1575, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for 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

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Cite this Entry

“Idiom.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idiom. Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for idiom

idiom

noun

English Language Learners 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.

idiom

noun
id·​i·​om | \ ˈi-dē-əm How to pronounce idiom (audio) \

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on idiom

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for idiom

Nglish: Translation of idiom for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of idiom for Arabic Speakers

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