Poll: Can a single word be an idiom?

Can a single word be an idiom?


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This Poll:

  • Votes: 1,346
  • Comments: 25
  • Added: March 2005



I want to see some examples of one-word idioms.


overlook. Think of why it means something very different than "look over". Flipping the words doesn't change the meaning in this way. This happens because of the certain meaning the word has acquired in American English.

Or how about "rhubarb" meaning a fight?


Does "cathouse" have anything to do with cats?


"Great" ordinarily means "good," "large," or "superior." But used in an ironic sense, it means "not good," an idiomatic usage not found in most dictionaries.


it means defective
one word ayt?! =)


even one word can be an idiom because it can


(from Bart in the Simpson's )
Ay! , Caramba!


base on my understanding, the idiomatic expressions may be in single word,
for example 'hot'

Benny Roc

I'm new to this website, and I just posted my vote for this poll. I see the result of the poll, but WHERE IS THE RIGHT ANSWER?? They don't tell you what the right answer is?? If they don't, that doesn't make any sense. Who asks your a question and doesn't tell you if you're right or wrong.


Benny, they're polls, and many are questions of opinion not fact, so they don't always have single correct answers.


I totally agreed with Benny Roc. Most of this polls are about grammar. GRAMMAR is made of RULES, Tdol. It's quite frustating being unsure about the correct answer.


This section is the poll area. You can find many questions with answers in Testing. http://www.usingenglish.com/testing.
Polls are not the same as tests/quizzes.


Obviously yes


a word can be used as an idiom provided it has a meaning different frm its ordinary meaning when used in a sentence e.gphrasal verbs.i called most of these verbs contextual idioms bcos their meanings depend on hw they ar used in sentence e.g take in is a word which av more than 2 meanings, to b deceived nd 2 b carried away


what do you call compound words with new meanings? blowfish, crosswalk, cowboy, corkscrew, cobweb, clockwise, foxglove etc.?


An idiom cannot be one word. A word with many meanings means a word with many meanings. The word "hot" for example has many meanings. Does that make "hot" an idiom? No, that does not. That just makes the word "hot" have many meanings. On the other hand, idioms are phrases or expressions.
Now the understanding is that phrases and expressions can be single words; however, they are not always single words. The command "Go" is one word, because the subject is ommitted for simplicity. "Go" is a command and not an idiom. The word "sigh" is an expression and is singular but not an idiom. As phrases and expressions may be single words, that does not mean idioms have to be single word expressions or phrases, because they are not. Let's remember a word is just a word, and no single word can be an idiom. Take this from a grammar expert, who knows grammar like the back of his hand!


Despite what brainwashed grammar experts and uncritical thinkers are ready to dictate us, the assertion that one word can not be an idiom, is not just dead wrong. its absolutely absurd.
If brainwash and horsepower is not idioms, then kick the bucket is also not an idiom, since a phrase can have many meanings, just like any word. .The deeply irrational assertion that one word can not be an idiom is pseudoacademic nonsens, and no rational argument have ever been produced for it.


Colors makes great idioms.

yellow =coward
blue = melancolic
green = unexperienced


A very strongt argument that one word-idioms can not easely be excluded, is the so called "inversion" in agglutinative languages. Ex:
from kick the bucket
to bucketkicking,
inversions such as this, will always become one word in an agglutinative language like ex.Danish.
An strong argument for noncompound idioms is superfluency. In the idiom "rotten driver" the word driver has its litteral meaning, and as such, is completely superfluent to the idiom. Rotten is enough. ex:
How do you feel?
- Screwed! (one word idiom)

Helen Swanson

This is one of those facts that is not consistently taught in school. That's whyI'm writing a middle grade book on the subject. Thanks for the poll!



Literal translation: One More than one

Audra Kuivanen

"Once all tabs are selected, you may proceed to the next slide."
'Once' used in this context does not mean 'one time' it means 'after'. I work with documents that need to be translated to global audiences; this doesn't translate well. I run into one-word idioms all the time.
It is easier for one-word idioms to slide into common usage and inherit an alternate definition in legitimate dictionaries, but that doesn't mean they didn't originate as idiomatic single words.

John Blevins

Word If...to say if is longest word in dictionary.

Harry and Meghan

the single word 'idiom' means idiom


I read in a dictionary, a idiom also means a form of expression natural to a language, person, or a group of people. So I feel a idiom can be a single word.

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