- an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements, as kick the bucket or hang one's head, or from the general grammatical rules of a language, as the table round for the round table, and that is not a constituent of a larger expression of like characteristics.
- a language, dialect, or style of speaking peculiar to a people.
- a construction or expression of one language whose parts correspond to elements in another language but whose total structure or meaning is not matched in the same way in the second language.
- the peculiar character or genius of a language.
- a distinct style or character, in music, art, etc.: the idiom of Bach.
Origin of idiom
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for idiom
Later she observed that one of the most skilled in this idiom was the journalist Dorothy Parker.Tallulah Bankhead: Gay, Drunk and Liberated in an Era of Excess Art
January 25, 2014
Is ‘idiom’ enough to defend to the modern reader sentences like this?This Week’s Hot Reads: Oct. 15, 2013
Nicholas Mancusi, Thomas Flynn
October 15, 2013
Additionally impressive is that an Australian can write so convincingly in the idiom of a country so different from her own.This Week’s Hot Reads: September 9, 2013
September 9, 2013
Yet he seemed interested only in recasting GOP concepts in his own idiom.Obama’s Speech Took Ideas From the GOP and Rhetoric From Madison Avenue
January 28, 2012
What people are really afraid of is something that has its own vocabulary and idiom because it strikes them dumb.How the Wall Street Protesters Win
October 14, 2011
"Your idiom is too much for him, old man," said Holden quietly.The Fiery Totem
The idiom and traditions of the ancient inhabitants were there preserved.A Literary History of the English People
Jean Jules Jusserand
Barny thus sheltered his falsehood under the idiom of his language.Stories of Comedy
The occasional use of the imperfect is almost his only Gaelic idiom.Angling Sketches
(in English idiom, 'smoking tobacco') was the unhesitating answer.The Faith of Islam
- a group of words whose meaning cannot be predicted from the meanings of the constituent words, as for example (It was raining) cats and dogs
- linguistic usage that is grammatical and natural to native speakers of a language
- the characteristic vocabulary or usage of a specific human group or subject
- the characteristic artistic style of an individual, school, period, etc
Word Origin and History for idiom
1580s, "form of speech peculiar to a people or place," from Middle French idiome (16c.) and directly from Late Latin idioma "a peculiarity in language," from Greek idioma "peculiarity, peculiar phraseology," from idioumai "to appropriate to oneself," from idios "personal, private," properly "particular to oneself," from PIE *swed-yo-, suffixed form of root *s(w)e-, pronoun of the third person and reflexive (referring back to the subject of a sentence), also used in forms denoting the speaker's social group, "(we our-)selves" (cf. Sanskrit svah, Avestan hva-, Old Persian huva "one's own," khva-data "lord," literally "created from oneself;" Greek hos "he, she, it;" Latin suescere "to accustom, get accustomed," sodalis "companion;" Old Church Slavonic svoji "his, her, its," svojaku "relative, kinsman;" Gothic swes "one's own;" Old Norse sik "oneself;" German Sein; Old Irish fein "self, himself"). Meaning "phrase or expression peculiar to a language" is from 1620s.
A traditional way of saying something. Often an idiom, such as “under the weather,” does not seem to make sense if taken literally. Someone unfamiliar with English idioms would probably not understand that to be “under the weather” is to be sick. (See examples under “Idioms.”)