According to the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus (1996), an idiom is a group of words established by usage and having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.

I will never forget the first time I learned about idioms. I was in the third grade and our homework assignment was to figure out a group of phrases that were completely alien to me.

A few from the top of my head:

Throw the baby out with the bathwater

Get me a sandwich, and step on it!

Hold your horses!

A needle in a haystack.

There are so much more and they are so very interesting to learn about.

During my past trip to Greece, I told my traveling companion about the one idiom I never grasped the meaning behind as used by Anderson Cooper – Throw the baby out with the bathwater. She explained it to me (but for some reason, this isn’t an idiom I’d ever use myself so I don’t remember the meaning presently and don’t care enough to look it up).

This anecdote prompted us to think up a new idiom every day and at the most random moments which made our trip quite interesting.

At our last island stop in Fira, Santorini, our hotel was five minutes away from the local library (which also had free internet service). We spent a rainy afternoon checking our emails and exploring their library. Their bookshelves were full of books in Greek (of course) and a wide selection of English language books. A book that caught my attention was a book about idioms, funny enough.

The title was A Learner’s Dictionary of English Idioms (1986) and being the writer that I am with a notebook to write everything down, I recorded idioms I’ve never heard in my life.

Below a few of my favorites:

As sure as eggs is eggs – certain

Slip on a banana skin – make a fool one’s self

Have got the devil’s own luck – fortunate

A white elephant – expensive and for show

Talk turkey – frank, serious

See pink elephants – hallucinations when drunk

Some may be common to others while these are not phrases I’ve ever used or heard in my life. What idioms do you use or hear often?


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