|Drama: December 28, 2022 Issue [#11720]|
This week: Idioms Edited by: Lilli ☕️ 🧿
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|An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to the phrase; but some phrases become figurative idioms while retaining the literal meaning of the phrase. Categorized as formulaic language, an idiom's figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning. Idioms occur frequently in all languages; in English alone there are an estimated twenty-five million idiomatic expressions! |
|For native speakers of a language, idioms are a "piece of cake". They are just another common feature of the language. But often, when people are learning a second language, they "can’t make heads or tails" of these strange phrases. Did you see what I did there? Idioms can be confusing for writers, especially if you’re writing in your non-native language. This week we'll take a look at some common English idioms!|
piece of cake - indicates an easy task, something easily achieved.
"Flying a helicopter may look difficult but it's actually a piece of cake once you know what you're doing."
can’t make heads or tails - unable to understand something (or someone) mainly because it is puzzling or unclear.
"I've read the directions twice and still can't make heads or tails of it."
barrel of laughs - someone or something that is very amusing.
"I always have so much fun when Katie's around—she's totally a barrel of laughs!"
old as the hills - someone or something that is quite old.
"Oh, she's old as the hills, she can't hear us."
the ball is in your court - it is up to you to make the decision or take the next step.
"Well, they invited you, so the ball is in your court now. Do you want to go out with them or not?"
barking up the wrong tree - looking in the wrong place for an answer or solution.
"If you think I'll help you cheat, you're definitely barking up the wrong tree!"
curiosity killed the cat - being too curious can get one in big trouble
"I think you'll offend her by asking such personal questions—curiosity killed the cat, after all."
Elvis has left the building - the show is over, the task is finished
"That ball is flying, and it looks like... yes, it's a home run! Elvis has left the building, folks!"
Bob's your uncle - Usually used to conclude a set of instructions
"Just add a dash of salt and Bob's your uncle!"
a different kettle of fish - Referring to an alternative/a different thing altogether
"I loved the first film but the sequel is a different kettle of fish."
donkey's ears - a very long time
"I haven't heard from her in donkey's years."
Like all types of figurative language, idioms can be a powerful tool when used correctly. Idioms are an easy way to make your writing sound more conversational.
For fiction writers, idioms can add personality to characters’ voices. Idioms can vary geographically and generationally, so using appropriate idioms can make your characters more authentic. People from the American South use the phrase "fixing to" all the time. It means that they are about to do something ("I’m fixing to cook dinner."). Phrases like that can make it clear that a character is Southern. Older people may use idioms like "I’m no spring chicken."
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