What is an Idiom?

An idiom is a phrase or an expression may be particular to a language or even a smaller culture who otherwise speak the same language. In the ancient Greek from which it originates, idiom means a “special feature” or a “peculiarity.” ” To say that something is “idiomatic” means to acknowledge that has a uniqueness that does not readily translate from one culture to the next.

For instance, the Italian idiom, In bocca al lupo, or “into the mouth of a wolf,” means “good luck.” This makes little sense until you consider our own idiomatic expression, “Break a leg.”

Some idioms derive from circumstances that were once common; others have a more uncertain origin. For instance, some people think the idiom “break a leg” comes from the unspoken wish that theatrical understudies had that the principal might become sick or injured right before the performance. But the true origin of the expression remains unclear.

Examples of Idiom

Idiom Example 1. “Not my circus, not my monkey” is the Polish idiom meaning “not my problem.”

Idiom Example 2. In Japanese, the idiom “to have a wide face” means to have many friends.

Idiom Example 3. ‘We’ll have to see what’s in the stars,” is an idiom for waiting to see what the future holds in store — and sure enough, even “holds in store” is an idiom!

Idiom Example 4. “To feed the donkey sponge cake” is a Portuguese idiom that means to give special treatment to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Idiom Example 5. “To have a hollow leg” means to have a large appetite.

Idiom Example 6.  “To give someone pumpkins” is the Spanish idiom for rejecting a person.

(View all literary devices)