idiom

[ id-ee-uh m ]
/ ˈɪd i əm /

WATCH NOW: These Kids Have Bright Ideas About Idioms

WATCH NOW: These Kids Have Bright Ideas About Idioms

Kids redefine idioms ... and it's amazing. A piece of cake, an arm and a leg, cats and dogs ... what do you think they mean?

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noun

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

1565–75; < Latin idiōma < Greek idíōma peculiarity, specific property equivalent to idiō- (variant stem of idioûsthai to make one's own, appropriate, verbal derivative of idiós; see idio-) + -ma noun suffix of result
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for idiom

British Dictionary definitions for idiom

idiom

/ (ˈɪdɪəm) /

noun

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

Derived Forms

idiomatic (ˌɪdɪəˈmætɪk) or idiomatical, adjectiveidiomatically, adverbidiomaticalness, noun

Word Origin for idiom

C16: from Latin idiōma peculiarity of language, from Greek; see idio-
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Culture definitions for idiom

idiom

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.”)


The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.