What is your favourite idiom? A little about idiomatic phrases

August 30, 2013


My last poem was ‘For Good’ and this has little to do with the poem apart from the use of an idiomatic phrase or idiom as the title. I am a teacher and teaching idiomatic phrases is always fun as it leads to so much confusion. Their meaning is not really derived from logic, but is usually effected by the specific culture and its use over time. They often evolve into something far from what they once were.

I love thinking about the etymology of some of ours words and the origins of some idioms that, when you sit down and try to explain why we say it, you simply cannot sometimes! Usually you just have to say…”It is because it is! No more questions! Just “Get on with it!” “Teacher…get on what?” “It means shut up and work!”


‘For good’ is pretty easy. It literally means to do something for a good result or to a good end…but we mostly use it these days as ‘forever’. When we say, “I am stopping smoking for good.” We think, OK, they are stopping smoking and never doing it again. We don’t think, they are stopping because it is good for them (although it is!).

When I write fantasy I enjoy changing common idioms of ours to reflect the world I am creating to create more authenticity in the world and just for the fun of doing it. For one example,  I replaced ‘anyway’ with, ‘by the strike’ I usually don’t explain it as I think it create more of the feeling of foreign-ness, like when you go to another country and they use different phrases.

I love thinking about idiomatic phrases. In Australian English there are so many that are just ridiculous, crude, and bizarre. One that epitomizes those three of those words is, “We’re not here to fuck spiders.” I always smile when I hear a bogan say this. You many google that phrase and ‘bogan’ if your do not know each or either.

Any weird or wonderful ones out there? Think about your own idiomatic phrases, how they evolved, and how you can warp them!

Peace and regards,





  1. […] What is your favourite idiom? A little about idiomatic phrases […]

  2. […] What is your favourite idiom? A little about idiomatic phrases […]

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