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What is the difference between a phrase and an idiom?

  • Have you looked up the words in the dictionary? – Kris Feb 2 '14 at 12:21
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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 '14 at 12:19
  • Is bullshit an idiom? Isn't it just a word? – Pacerier Feb 2 '14 at 18:01

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