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Difference Between Idiom and Expression

Idiom vs Expression

There are many types of people in the world, and the majority of them are social people. They tend to enjoy talking to others and, as such, they are bound to use an idiom or an expression to share their views or ideas. While most people think that an idiom and an expression is one and the same, there is more than meets the eye in the usage of these two words.

Idioms are phrases that are sometimes defined differently from the words that are used to make them. In short, you can’t take idioms “literally.” One good example is “to kick the bucket.” To others it would simply mean the act of kicking a bucket; to others it means to die or death. Idioms can also be called “slang terms” because of the way their wordings are defined.

Every country, state, region, or location has their own versions or variations of slang words. If you hear idioms or idiomatic expressions that you’re not familiar with, chances are you will not be able to understand the meaning behind these words or phrases. The problem with idioms is that you won’t understand them unless the speaker tells you what they really mean.

Idiomatic phrases that have been used over the years like: “Back to Square One” (Start all over again) is now understood by almost everyone. The meanings of these popular idioms had not changed through the passing of time, and it makes these phrases easier to understand. Although there are some idioms that have different meanings, most idioms that are used today still retain their original definitions.

An expression, on the other hand, is sharing your views or ideas through speech, facial features, and even with the use of body language. An expression that is used as a phrase will help the listener see the words as the speaker sees them and understands them the way they do. In short, an expression is a method that the speaker uses to convey their message in a manner that will be understood by the receiver.

In expressions, one’s message will be easier to understand compared to an idiom which can have many meanings. Some people say that the usage of idioms and expressions can also be influenced by the location (country, state, city, etc.) of the native speaker. Speech patterns or speech behaviors of the people who use these idioms or expressions can affect the meaning behind these words.

Proper communication is important because it helps the people around you understand the message that you are trying to tell them. This also means that the exchange of words during a conversation will depend on the way an individual perceives the words that the speaker uses. If possible, use only idioms or expressions that are familiar to them so that misunderstandings will not occur.

So the next time you use an idiom or an expression, make sure that the meaning behind these words is properly understood. If not, then it might cause confusion, and you might even regret using these words in a conversation.


1. Idioms are words that cannot be defined “literally.” Expressions are used to convey a message the way the speaker wants it to be understood.
2. An expression is easier to understand when compared to an idiom that you’re not familiar with.
3. Speech patterns and behaviors can affect the meaning behind idioms and expressions.

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  1. The Explanation is great, but that’d be much easier to grasp the differences if there were more examples.

  2. This page needs a lot more useful examples to better understand idioms and expressions.

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