An idiom is a phrase or sentence with a meaning that you can’t predict from the language or grammar. Very often idioms go back into the mists of time and even users don’t know the origin. There are some idioms that cross the borders of culture and language, but most are localized and have meaning pertinent only to the people in the region. A good example is the idiom “it’s Greek to me.” The Greeks say it’s Turkish and the Turkish are sure that it’s French.
Idioms also have hidden meaning. They don’t generally mean what they say and many are abstract. Think along the lines of “kick the bucket” or “shed crocodile tears”. Idioms are phrases that we use in everyday language but if you sat and thought about them, they just wouldn’t make sense.
Because idioms aren’t literal, it is very difficult for a foreign language speaker to use them properly or understand what they mean. Idioms tend to use colorful phrases wherever you find them as demonstrated by this infographic.
Idioms do differ from proverbs, which are also familiar phrases but they give advice that is clear and unambiguous. A good example would be “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
Cleverly used idioms can add interest to your language by making it sound more creative. It can liven up your stories as long as you use them sparingly and appropriately. So, let’s not beat around the bush. Cut me some slack while I wrap my head around this.