Idioms versus Collocations: The Difference?

nice one

The Notes

What are idioms, basically?

An expression like turn up (meaning ‘arrive’), break even (meaning ‘make neither a profit nor a loss’) or a can of worms (meaning ‘a complicated problem’) can be difficult to understand, because its meaning is different from the meanings of the separate words in the expression. (If you know break and even, this does not help you at all to understand break even). Expressions like these are called ‘idioms‘. Idioms are usually special to one language and cannot be translated word for word (though related languages may share some idioms).

We can talk about a burning desire or a blazing row, but we don’t say a blazing desire or a burning row. Somebody can be a heavy smoker or a devoted friend, but not a devoted smoker or a heavy friend. Expressions like these are also idiomatic, in a…

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