From witty quotes to euphemisms, clichés, metaphors and idioms, the English language is filled with fun opportunities for and examples of Wordplay.
By definition, an idiom is a combination of words that has a figurative meaning that people understand by common use. Its figurative meaning is separate from its literal meaning, a feature that makes idioms both so confusing and so much fun. In the English language alone it’s estimated that there’s over 25,000 idiom expressions – some so commonplace that we hardly notice them.
If you’re looking for new and interesting phrases, or want to look up an idiom you recall but can’t quite remember word for word, the internet is a great resource. Online you can find dozens of excellent websites that have catalogued thousands of examples of wordplay at its best, perfect for browsing or for a more specific search.
Phrases and idioms – when to use them
Other than clever and witty phrases that are fun to use, idioms and phrases can be very helpful in illustrating a point or add a bit of light humour to just about any subject. Writers use phrases and idioms to add context to their essays, bring humour to party invitations and make reference to history – its uses are practically endless and when used properly only enhance what you’re trying to say.
For that reason, many people keep a list of their favourite phrases or interesting quotes as they find them – you never know when they might come in handy. If you have a few favourite phrases you’d like to dust off and start using more often, here are a few places you can put them to good use:
- Sending invitations – Next time you’re putting together an invitation for a birthday party, wedding or anniversary, why not use an idiom or phrase to set the mood? Throw a party, life of the party or asking for a hand in marriage are just a few that might apply.
- Speeches – Why not lighten up your next speech with an idiom or light-hearted quote? Using a figure of speech is a great way to help people understand what you mean and keep people interested in what you’re speaking about.
- Writing letters – When you’re writing a letter to a friend or loved one an idiom, witty quote or other figure of speech is a great way to add a little warmth and personality to your words – particularly if you’re sending a note to someone far away.
Finding the best idioms and phrases online
If you’re looking for the perfect phrase, the internet can be a useful resource for you – the best sites organise quotes by speaker, subject or origin, and make it easy to search for related phrases and learn about their origins.
For famous quotes, websites like Quoteland arrange quotes by topic, and have a useful forum you can use to ask others if they know the origins of some of your favourite quotes if you’re not sure where they came from. Brainy Quote also offers a similar service, and also has a quote of the day where you can find new and interesting quotes.
If you’re looking specifically for idioms and other phrases, Idiom Site and The Phrase Finder are both excellent resources – both allow you to browse alphabetically for idioms and learn new ones along the way. And for everything from anagrams to proverbs, try Said What?, a website filled with quotes and phrases of all kinds.