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Why Idioms Are Used & The Origins Of Idioms

Why Idioms Are Used And The Origins Of Idiom Use In History

Idioms are a staple in the English language and it’s important to know why they exist, when they’re used and how we can use them ourselves to be more expressively and efficiently. In this article, we take a look at what idioms are and where they came from to give you some insight on the subject.

Why Idioms Are Used

Idioms are used in order to add variety and color to speech or writing. They can also be used to emphasize a point, or to make a statement more memorable.
Idioms are often derived from popular culture, such as movies, books, or songs. For example, the phrase “I’m not going to sugarcoat it” is derived from the book The Catcher in the Rye.
Idioms can also be based on historical events. For example, the phrase “it’s all downhill from here” is based on the Battle of Bunker Hill, where the American colonists were forced to retreat after suffering heavy casualties.
Finally, idioms can be based on common human experiences, such as birth, death, or love. For example, the phrase “that’s life” is based on the fact that life is full of ups and downs.
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Origins of Idiom Use in History

Idioms are often used in everyday conversation without much thought as to their meaning or origin. However, these phrases can actually tell us a lot about a culture and its history.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an idiom is “a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words”  For example, the idiom “it’s raining cats and dogs” doesn’t literally mean that felines and canines are falling from the sky. Rather, it’s used to describe heavy rain.
While the origins of some idioms are clear, others are more mysterious. Many believe that many English idioms actually have their roots in other languages. For example, the idiom “the apple of my eye” is thought to be derived from Old English āpul (meaning fruit) and ġeógn (meaning eye).
It’s believed that idioms were first used in oral tradition before being written down. This is because they often rely on wordplay or other linguistic devices that can be lost in translation when they’re written down. For instance, the idiom “to have a chip on your shoulder” comes from an old practice of putting a chip of wood on your shoulder to challenge someone to a duel.
Idioms can tell us a lot about the history and culture of a   language. By understanding the origins of these common phrases, we can better appreciate the richness of language and the stories they can tell.
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How to Use Idioms Correctly

Idioms are often used in everyday conversation without much thought. However, there are some instances where it is important to use them correctly. Here are a few tips on how to do so:
1. Make sure you understand the meaning of the idiom before using it. There’s nothing worse than using an idiom incorrectly and having people give you funny looks or laugh at you. If you’re not sure what an idiom means, look it up in a dictionary or ask a friend.
2. Pay attention to the context in which the idiom is being used. Idioms can often have different meanings depending on the context in which they’re used. For example, the idiom “it’s raining cats and dogs” can be used to describe heavy rain, or it can be used figuratively to describe a chaotic situation.
3. Be careful not to overuse idioms. Using too many idioms in one conversation can make you sound like you’re trying too hard or that you don’t have a good grasp of the language. Use them sparingly and only when they actually add something to the conversation.

Examples of Idioms

An idiom is a phrase whose meaning cannot be understood from the literal meanings of the words that make it up. Idioms are often used in everyday speech and writing to add color or emphasis. They can also be used to communicate a complex idea with just a few words.
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There are literally thousands of idioms in English, and new ones are created all the time. Here are just a few examples:
1. “It’s raining cats and dogs.”
This idiom means that it is raining very hard. It is thought to have originated in 17th-century England, when houses had thatched roofs made of straw or reeds. During heavy rains, these roofs would sometimes collapse under the weight of the water, along with any animals that were taking shelter on them!
2. “I’m in over my head.”
This idiom means that someone is in a situation that is too difficult for them to handle. It can be used literally (e.g., when you’re swimming in deep water) or figuratively (e.g., when you’re in over your head at work).
3. “She/he is a piece of work.”
This idiom means that someone is very difficult or challenging to deal with. It’s often used to describe people who are high-maintenance or drama queens.
4. “I’m feeling under the weather.”
This idiom means that someone is not feeling well. It can be used to describe both physical and mental health issues.
5. “I have my work cut out for me.”
This idiom means that someone has a lot of work to do, or a difficult task ahead of them.
6. “I’m pulling your leg.”
This idiom means that someone is joking with you, or trying to trick you.
7. “I’m all ears.”
This idiom means that someone is ready and willing to listen. It can be used when you want someone to pay attention to what you’re saying, or when you’re asking for advice.
8. “That’ll be the day!”
This idiom is used to express disbelief, often in response to something that seems impossible. For example, if your boss says she’s going to start paying you more, you might say “That’ll be the day!”
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9. “I’m at my wit’s end.”
This idiom means that someone is very frustrated, or has run out of ideas. It can be used when you’re feeling overwhelmed or hopeless.
10. “I have a bone to pick with you.”
This idiom means that someone has a problem or grievance that they want to discuss. It’s often used as a way to start an argument or confrontation.

Thank you for reading!

This was written by me. Bryce Purnell, founder of Learn Laugh Speak.

Check out more on my Medium or send me an email if you’re ever curious about anything at all 



1 thoughts on “Why Idioms Are Used & The Origins Of Idioms

  1. Pingback: Essential Idioms Examples: How to Easily Speak Like a Native

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