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The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms .

The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms .


The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms .

  • The Penguin Dictionary o f English Idioms will be of absorbing interest toforeign and native speakers of English alike. Its aims are twofold: toprovide a wide selection of the most commonly used idiomatic phrases inthe English language; and, with the help of copious examples taken fromreal life, to offer guidance on the most effective way to use them.
  • The English language is rich in idioms, and although it is possible to converse correctly in non-idiomatic English, a student with only a superficial knowledge of English idioms will find himself at a serious disadvantage in his reading, and even more so when he takes part in discussions and debates. Finding idioms in a general dictionary is a slow and laborious task, so it is hoped that this dictionary of idioms will provide assistance in a practical and interesting way.
  • What then is an idiom? We would define an idiom as a combination of words with a special meaning that cannot be inferred from its separate parts.
  •  The examples that follow will help to make the matter clear: 
  •   1. ‘John couldn’t say boo to a goose!’ On the face of it, this is a very strange thing to say. 
Of course it is quite possible to say boo to a goose, but who would want to
do such a thing? However, the statement has an idiomatic meaning, namely that
John is so timid that he wouldn’t dare to make even the mildest protest, however
badly he was treated. Clearly, it is impossible to deduce this meaning from the
separate words in the sentence above. In other words, the meaning of the whole is
different from the parts. The sentence then has two meanings - a literal meaning
which means very little, and a metaphorical one which is the idiom.
  • 2. ‘Shall we go Dutch?’ Unlike the first example, this one has no literal meaning

at all, only an idiomatic one: ‘I suggest that you pay for your meal, and I’ll pay for
mine?’ Again, it is impossible to infer the meaning of the idiom from the separate
words in the question.
Every idiom belongs either to the first group or to the second as described
above.

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