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The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms

Ammer, Christine

ISBN 10: 1439527245 / ISBN 13: 9781439527245
Published by Paw Prints, 2008
Used Condition: Good
From Better World Books (Mishawaka, IN, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms

Publisher: Paw Prints

Publication Date: 2008

Book Condition:Good

Edition: Reprint.

About this title


"Bite the bullet", " get on the stick", "make no bones about it", " take the cake". The American Heritage(R) Dictionary of Idioms covers almost 10,000 expressions. Its main fare is, of course, idioms - groups of two or more words that together mean something different from the literal meaning of the individual words. In addition, this book discusses verb phrases such as " act up", "freeze out", and " get down", figures of speech such as "dark horse" and "blind as a bat", interjections and formulas like "says who" and " tough beans", common proverbs like a "bird in the hand", and slang terms such as "buy the farm" and "push up daisies". Each entry is defined and has an example sentence showing the expression in context. Most entries offer an explanation of the expression's literal meaning or origin and include information about its first appearance in English.


Nothing expresses the vitality, history, and character of a language quite like its idioms. Ask any non-native English speaker to make sense of a phrase such as "beg the question" or "keep your eyes peeled"; they can't do it. Idioms don't translate, which is what makes them such intriguing mirrors of how a culture evolves along with its speech. The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms includes almost 10,000 of these figures of speech, slang phrases, clichés, colloquialisms, and proverbs, from "ace in the hole" to "zoom in on." Each entry defines an idiom, uses it in a sentence, then pinpoints its historical origins when possible. Some idioms, it turns out, preserve words or word uses that have otherwise fallen out of use ("one fell swoop"); others allude to long-forgotten catch phrases from movies or advertising ("more bounce for the ounce"). Consider, for instance the phrase "funny bone"--actually a pun on "humerus," the Latin name for the bone of the upper arm. Or the expression "moment of truth," a translation from the Spanish phrase originally referring to bullfighting--and first popularized, not surprisingly, by Ernest Hemingway. The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms is like an archeological dig through the vernacular, and it unearths treasures such as these on every one of its pages. All those interested in language or its history should keep a copy on their library shelves.

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