The UVic Writer's Guide


Idiom (id)


An idiom is an accepted combination of words whose meaning is greater than the sum of its grammatical parts. Some idioms, such as "such as" or "have lunch", are established components of written language; others, like "Let's do lunch" or "What's up?" are informal or slang. The comment "idiom" may mean that you have used an informal idiom inappropriately, or that you have deviated from standard idiomatic usage.

For example, while it would be logical and grammatical to say "get into the bus," English idiom requires that we say "get onto the bus." See the page on awkwardness for another example.


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Copyright, Department of English, The University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated Sept. 24, 1995