The Word Collector 2

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Hi Readers :),

Today, I’d like to talk about idioms! ;) This blog post will hopefully give you a little insight into what idioms are and perhaps you might find answers, to questions that you’ve had on idioms here, InshaaAllah, so please relish what I have put together on idioms from various sources. Oh, this post is somewhat related to a blog post that I did last year. Here’s the link to it:

Happy reading! ;)


What is an Idiom?

Here are a few definitions for the word: “idiom”:

  • An idiom is a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words (example: over the moon). - Pocket Oxford English Dictionary
  • An idiom is a combination of words that has a meaning that is different from the meanings of the individual words themselves. It can have a literal meaning in one situation and a different idiomatic meaning in another situation. It is a phrase which does not always follow the normal rules of meaning and grammar.
  • An idiom is a semantic unit whose meaning cannot be deduced from the meanings of its constituents.
  • An idiom is an expression peculiar to or characteristic of a particular language, especially when the meaning is illogical or separate from the meanings of its component words.
  • An idiom is a group of words established by usage and having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.
  • An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual grammatical rules of a language or from the usual meanings of the expression’s constituent elements.

What is Meant by “Idiomatic”?

According to the Babylon Dictionary, the adjective: “idiomatic” means: “of or pertaining to an idiom, containing idioms; characteristic of a particular language or dialect; having a specific style or form”. Synonyms of idiomatic include: dialectal, native, vernacular.


What are Some Foreign Words for: “Idiom”?

The following is a small list of foreign words for “idiom”, if you have more, be sure to add them if you wish, InshaaAllah:

  • Spanish: modismo
  • Italian: idiotismo
  • Portuguese: *expressão idiomática
  • Norwegian: idiom
  • Persian (*Farsi): istilaah اصطلاح
  • Malay 1: ungkapan (literally meaning: “expression”, “phrase”, “idiom”, “idiomatic expression”)
  • Malay 2: *simpulan bahasa
  • Malay 3: bahasa kiasan (literally, “figurative language” in English)
  • Arabic 1: iSTilaah/iSTilaa7 إصطلاح
  • Arabic 2: muSTalah/musTala7 مصطلح

*”Expressão idiomática” literally means: “idiomatic expression” in English.  Expressão= expression; Idiomática= idiomatic (Google Translate)

*Farsi noun-

the modern Iranian language of Iran and western Afghanistan, written in the Arabic alphabet; modern Persian. (

*simpulan bahasa= idiom


What’s the Difference between Idioms and Proverbs?

Many people have problems differentiating just exactly what an idiom is, and what a proverb is, so I asked the question: “what’s the difference between idioms and proverbs?” on Google’s search engine, in order to find out. A hint that I like to use to spot the difference between idioms and proverbs is, idioms are phrases which do not always follow the normal rules of meaning and grammar; while proverbs are short sayings or sentences that are generally known by many people. Proverbs usually contain words of wisdom, advice, or morals; while idioms do not. Here’s what I found on various websites:

  • An idiom is an expression that can be understood only as a whole and not by analysing its constituent parts. For example, if you know what ‘kick’, ‘the’ and ‘bucket’ mean, that won’t help you understand that ‘kick the bucket’ means ‘die’. A proverb may or may not be idiomatic, but it expresses succinctly some form of philosophy, folk wisdom or advice.


  • A proverb is usually a statement that conveys some piece of wisdom or widely accepted truth. It is a memorable or famous sentence that people use to remember the piece of information. An idiom is a phrase (often called an idiomatic phrase, too) that cannot be understood from its individual words. These phrases only make sense when the words are put together a certain way, or they are used in certain situations.


  • An idiom is a group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word understood on its own. A proverb is a short sentence, etc., usually known by many people, stating something commonly experienced or giving advice.


  • An idiom is an expression with a meaning or grammatical structure that can’t be understood based on its individual words. It seems like a wrong usage if you think about it, but is widely accepted anyway. It is typically just a few words, not as much as a whole sentence. “Head over heels” meaning, upside-down is an idiom. A proverb is a brief piece of “folk wisdom”. Typically one complete sentence, it expresses some form of advice; many people can quote it exactly, but typically it is not known where it came from originally.


  • If you say, “The cat’s out of the bag” instead of “The secret is given away,” you’re using an idiom. The meaning of an idiom is different from the actual meaning of the words used. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a proverb. Proverbs are old but familiar sayings that usually give advice. Both idioms and proverbs are part of our daily speech.



Examples of Idioms

Here are some examples of idioms, that are used in the English language:

  • "barking up the wrong tree"- looking in the wrong place.
  • "by the skin of one’s teeth"- narrowly; barely. Usually used in regard to a narrow escape from a disaster.
  • "hit the road"- to leave.
  • "piece of cake"- a job, task or other activity that is pleasant – or, by extension, easy or simple.
  • "under the weather"- to feel sick or poorly.
  • "add fuel to the fire"- whenever something is done to make a bad situation even worse than it is.
  • "blue moon"- a rare event or occurrence.
  • "saved by the bell"- saved at the last possible moment.
  • "scot-free"- to escape and not have to pay.
  • "smell a rat"- to detect someone in the group is betraying the others.
  • "start from scratch"-  to do it all over again from the beginning.
  • "let the cat out of the bag"-  to share a secret that wasn’t supposed to be shared.
  • "tie the knot"- to get married.
  • "get under (someone’s) skin"- to irritate or stimulate; provoke.
  • "eat your words"- to admit that what you said is wrong.
  • "knock someone’s socks off and knock the socks off (of) someone"- Slang to surprise someone thoroughly. (Fixed order. Of is usually retained before pronouns.)
  • "hook, line, and sinker"- Figurative totally/completely



What does the idiom: “down to earth” mean?


Two Tips on How to Find the Meanings of Idioms

If you hear or see an idiom that you don’t understand, look up the keyword in a dictionary. For example, if you want to know what the informal idiom: “take the plunge” means, look up “plunge”. You’ll find out that this idiom means: “to begin an unfamiliar venture, especially after hesitating”.

If the idiom isn’t in the dictionary, you might find a book in your school or local library that explains idioms.

Here are some websites that may be useful for ESL learners and English speakers:

For more helpful websites dealing with English idioms, please Google or Yahoo! search the title: “Online English Idioms Dictionary”, InshaaAllah! ;)


Just for Fun (Optional)

Search the word: “skin” here:, and please see the heading: “Idioms” under its definitions.

Yo, Step away from the Cliché!

A cliche/cliché (pronounced as, clee-Shay) is, a phrase, expression, word or idea that has been used so often that it is no longer interesting or effective.


Set the Trend!

If you aspire to be the perfect writer, you should avoid using clichés, because they make a person’s writing stale and corny. Instead, try making up new, sensible, and imaginative expressions of your own! ;) This is guaranteed to keep your audience coming back for more! :)


Quote on Cliché:

"A cliché can be a fashionable phrase (“at the end of the day…”), a proverb (“don’t count your chickens…”), a simile (“strong as an ox”), or a single word (“Whatever.”). The word cliché is almost always pejorative, and people are told to avoid them (“Avoid clichés like the plague,” as one self-referential joke has it). An idiom can be a cliché—in fact, it’s likely that many idioms will be somewhat *clichéd—but it does not have to be; and clichés are by no means always idioms.”

*clichéd also cliched adj.-

Having become stale or commonplace through overuse; hackneyed: "In the States, it might seem a little clichéd; in Paris, it seems fresh and original" (Nina Martin).


Links to Idioms from around the World

I really wish to add foreign idioms on my blog in the near future, InshaaAllah ;). There are some really cool *Malay (Bahasa Malaysia/Melayu) ones! For the while, please check out these marvellous pages:

*Malay (Bahasa Melayu; Jawi script: بهاس ملايو ) is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the national language of Indonesia (as Indonesian), Malaysia (also known as Malaysian), and Brunei, and it is one of four official languages of Singapore. It is spoken natively by 40 million people across the Malacca Strait, including the coasts of the Malay Peninsula of Malaysia and the eastern coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, and has been established as a native language of part of western coastal Sarawak and West Kalimantan in Borneo. The total number of speakers of the language is more than 215 million.

As the Bahasa Kebangsaan or Bahasa Nasional (National Language) of several states, Standard Malay has various official names. In Singapore and Brunei it is called Bahasa Melayu (Malay language); in Malaysia, Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysian language); and in Indonesia, Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) and is designated the Bahasa Persatuan/Pemersatu (“unifying language/lingua franca”). However, in areas of central to southern Sumatra where the language is indigenous, Indonesians refer to it as Bahasa Melayu and consider it one of their regional languages.

Adapted from:

Sources and Further Reading:

Okay guys, that concludes this post! ;) I really hope you guys enjoyed what was put together, InshaaAllah! Keep well, Wassalaam ‘alaikum

Adding a little sparkle to your life! ;)


Sam سام

Post Script:

You guys may have noticed that my blog isn’t being updated regularly these days. I apologise for this, because I’ve been juggling different things, and trying to keep a balance in my life. Anyway, I love Tumblr and blogging, Alhamdulillaah! So, whenever I’m in a fantastic mood, I’ll add new content here, InshaaAllah. Please stay tuned! ;)

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