Idioms are turns of phrases particular to a group of people, or a society. I grew up around West Indian (Caribbean) people and all I heard were idioms. However, I thought it was just regular language…until I went to school.
“Dress up, dress up!” shouted the dollar van man. [This means, move over.]
“Hear what…” [This means, Okay, this is how it’s going to go…]
But there are other types of idioms as well. Such as phrases that by themselves, out of context, may not have any meaning for the uninformed listener. Here are some you may recognize:
- a hot potato: a current issue being discussed that is usually disputed
- (don’t) cry over spilt milk: complaining about a loss/disappointment from the past
- costs an arm and a leg: when something is very expensive (this is also hyperbole)
- it takes two to tango: more than one person is needed for something to happen; not just the actions of one person
- once in a blue moon: something that happens rarely
- (the) whole nine yards: Everything; all of it.
These are a few examples of idioms as it relates to phrases used in the U.S. What idioms do you know of from other countries/cultures?