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What is the difference between a phrase and an idiom?

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Have you looked up the words in the dictionary? –  Kris Feb 2 at 12:21
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1 Answer

A phrase is “a small group of words standing together as a conceptual unit”, while an idiom is “a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words”. So, the difference is that an idiom as an established meaning not directly linked to the individual words. Any idiom is a phrase.

As an example, “raining cats and dogs” is both an idiom and a phrase. “A herd of cats” is a phrase but not an idiom.

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"A girl's best friend" definitely is an idiom if the speaker is using it to refer to diamonds. :-) –  Hellion Mar 14 '11 at 21:45
    
@Hellion: yeah, I should have thought about diamonds. I've edited :) –  F'x Mar 14 '11 at 22:26
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So in other words, an idiom must have at least 2 words? –  Pacerier May 10 '12 at 12:52
    
@Pacerier Probably not... like "bullshit" (originally) –  d'alar'cop Feb 2 at 12:19
    
Is bullshit an idiom? Isn't it just a word? –  Pacerier Feb 2 at 18:01
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protected by RegDwigнt Feb 2 at 13:01

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