Definition of idiom in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɪdɪəm/


1A group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g. over the moon, see the light).
Example sentences
  • India has had a longer exposure to English than any other country which uses it as a second language, and its distinctive words, idioms, grammar, rhetoric and rhythms are numerous and pervasive.
  • Consider the case of idioms which contain a word which has no uses outside the idiom itself.
  • Brewer's aim was to help readers understand the context of the catchphrases, clichés, slogans and odd linguistic idioms by which the British make themselves understood.
expression, idiomatic expression, turn of phrase, set phrase, fixed expression, phrase
formal locution
1.1 [mass noun] A form of expression natural to a language, person, or group of people: he had a feeling for phrase and idiom
More example sentences
  • When the movie Wayne's World was released in Latin America, a lot of the film's American idiom and idiosyncratic language didn't translate well, if at all.
  • We need to make that point-in a warm and affectionate way, and in their language and idiom.
  • Fritsche's point is that Heidegger's idiom and use of language were part of a shared tradition of right-wing thought that emerged in the 1920s in Germany.
language, mode of expression, style of speech, speech, talk, -speak, way/manner of speaking, usage, phraseology, phrasing, choice of words, vocabulary, parlance, tongue, vernacular, jargon, patter, argot, patois, cant;
French façon de parler
informal lingo
formal locution
1.2The dialect of a people or part of a country.
Example sentences
  • She perfectly recreates the idioms and dialects of a certain sort of Manchester, and it was un-put-downable in a slightly addictive, confessional way.
  • It is an uphill task capturing the true spirit of the original, not missing out on the nuances and finer points of the dialect and the local idiom, or for that matter, the tenor and authentic flavour of the literary work in question.
  • There are southern and northern dialects, each having three regional idioms.
2A characteristic mode of expression in music or art: they were both working in a neo-impressionist idiom
More example sentences
  • In his abstract expressionist paintings, popular idioms found in his music clearly present themselves.
  • An accomplished singer, she is well versed in singing various styles and idioms of music.
  • As a result, music hall idioms and artistes were ubiquitous.


Late 16th century: from French idiome, or via late Latin from Greek idiōma 'private property, peculiar phraseology', from idiousthai 'make one's own', from idios 'own, private'.

  • This goes back to Greek idiōma ‘private or peculiar phraseology’, from idiousthai ‘make one's own’ from Greek idios ‘own, private’. Idiosyncrasy (early 17th century) is from idios combined with sun ‘with’ and krasis ‘mixture’, and originally meant ‘physical constitution peculiar to an individual’.

Words that rhyme with idiom

cryptosporidium, cymbidium, iridium, rubidium

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: idiom

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