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Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms

Edited by John Ayto

Third edition

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780199543793
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191727689 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acref/9780199543793.001.0001
Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms

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"Anyone who is addicted to the richness of the English language or simply intrigued by the origin and meaning of an idiom like ‘teach your grandmother to suck eggs’ will relish this work"Library Journal

Did you know that ‘flavour of the month’ originated in a marketing campaign in American ice-cream parlours in the 1940s, when a particular flavour would be specially promoted for a month at a time? And did you know that ‘off the cuff’ refers to the rather messy practice of writing impromptu notes on one's shirt cuff before speaking in public? These and many more idioms are explained and put into context in this third edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms.

The volume takes a fresh look at the idiomatic phrases and sayings that make English the rich and intriguing language that it is. This major new edition contains entries for over 6,000 idioms, including 700 entirely new entries, based on Oxford's language monitoring and the ongoing third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. These include a range of recently established idioms such as ‘the elephant in the corner’, ‘go figure’, ‘like a rat up a drainpipe’, ‘sex on legs’, ‘step up to the plate’, ‘too posh to push’, ‘a walk in the park’, ‘win ugly’. This edition also features a greatly increased number of cross-references, making it ideal for quick reference.

Many entries include additional features which give more detailed background on the idiom in question. For example, did you know that ‘taken aback’ was adopted from nautical terminology that described a ship unable to move forward because of a strong headwind pressing its sails back against the mast?

Book.  3158 pages.  214162 words. 

Subjects: History of English

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