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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Idiom'

Idiom Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    idiom n
  1. a manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language [syn: parlance]
  2. the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people; "the immigrants spoke an odd dialect of English"; "he has a strong German accent" [syn: dialect, accent]
  3. the style of a particular artist or school or movement; "an imaginative orchestral idiom" [syn: artistic style]
  4. an expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up [syn: idiomatic expression, phrasal idiom, set phrase, phrase]
Idiom Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Idiom \Id"i*om\, n. [F. idiome, L. idioma, fr. Gr. ?, fr. ? to make a person's own, to make proper or peculiar; prob. akin to the reflexive pronoun ?, ?, ?, and to ?, ?, one's own, L. suus, and to E. so.]
  1. The syntactical or structural form peculiar to any language; the genius or cast of a language. Idiom may be employed loosely and figuratively as a synonym of language or dialect, but in its proper sense it signifies the totality of the general rules of construction which characterize the syntax of a particular language and distinguish it from other tongues. --G. P. Marsh. By idiom is meant the use of words which is peculiar to a particular language. --J. H. Newman. He followed their language [the Latin], but did not comply with the idiom of ours. --Dryden.
  2. An expression conforming or appropriate to the peculiar structural form of a language; in extend use, an expression sanctioned by usage, having a sense peculiar to itself and not agreeing with the logical sense of its structural form; also, the phrase forms peculiar to a particular author. Some that with care true eloquence shall teach, And to just idioms fix our doubtful speech. --Prior. Sometimes we identify the words with the object -- though be courtesy of idiom rather than in strict propriety of language. --Coleridge. Every good writer has much idiom. --Landor. It is not by means of rules that such idioms as the following are made current: ``I can make nothing of it.'' ``He treats his subject home.'' Dryden. ``It is that within us that makes for righteousness.'' M.Arnold. --Gostwick (Eng. Gram. )
  3. Dialect; a variant form of a language. Syn: Dialect. Usage: Idiom, Dialect. The idioms of a language belong to

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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Idiom'

An "idiom" is a word or phrase which means something different from what it says - it is usually a metaphor. Idioms are common phrases or terms whose meanings are not literal, but are figurative and only known through their common uses.

Because idioms can mean something different from what the words mean it is difficult for someone not very good at speaking the language to use them properly. Some idioms are only used by some groups of people or at certain times. The idiom shape up or ship out, which is like saying improve your behavior or leave if you don't, might be said by an employer or supervisor to an employee, but not to other people.

Idioms are not the same thing as slang. Idioms are made of normal words that have a special meaning known by almost everyone. Slang is usually special words that are known only by a particular group.

[See more about Idiom at Dictionary 3.0 Encyclopedia]

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