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The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms (4,000+ Idioms) (Penguin Reference Books) Paperback – 29 Mar 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 2nd Revised & Corrected edition (1 Jan. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140514813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140514810
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Publisher

Some sample entries:

TO BE STILL WET BEHIND THE EARS

To be naïve, inexperienced. `He will be no match for them; he is still wet behind the ears.' The phrase has its origin in children's neglect to dry themselves behind the ears.

TO GO DOWN WITH THE SHIP

To stay at one's post until the bitter end. There was a tradition that the captain should go down with his ship. When the Titanic sank (1912), both the captain and designer went down with the ship, although they were offered places in the life-boats. In modern times, the rule has been relaxed, and the captain is expected to be the last to leave the ship.

A WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING

Someone who looks respectable and harmless but whose behaviour is quite the opposite. `Young children have to be aware of strangers who are kind and generous but could turn out to be wolves in sheep's clothing, such as paedophiles.' Also used with reference to trees, plants, food, etc. `Golden Rain is a magnificent-looking tree but it is like a wolf in sheep's clothing - the seeds are extremely poisonous.'

From the Author

I`m sorry to say that the first print of the second edition has an enormous number of numerical mistakes in the last 50 pages of the Index. Penguin deeply regrets this mishap and I hope very much that no more of these copies are being sold. The index has in the meantime been corrected. Therefore, please be sure to buy only the second edition where it says: Reprinted with amended index 2002. This amended second edition has been highly recommended by the Good Book Guide in the October 2002 magazine as one of those great classic reference works ....

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought this for my son's Russian girlfriend- her English is excellent but she is often baffled by idioms - now the cat is really out of the bag for her and she loves it.
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True to its name, this book gives plenty of English idioms with definitions, examples of use in a sentence and a clue as to their tone where necessary. Under "dry as a bone" it defines normal use and suggests the humorous application when someone wants an alcoholic drink very badly but, if you forget where this idiom is, it is hard to find it again in the index because it appears under "bone" but not under "dry." The index is necessary because the editor/authors have decided to group the idioms in sections rather than merely alphabetically: colours, weather, time, life and death etc. The index needed to find a particular idiom takes several pages and is incomplete, as I have suggested. I am not sure which reader would require this arrangement: a writer on a certain topic would not need a list of cliches and a student of English would want the most direct route to an expression. There are bound to be omissions but I was surprised that, with four definitions of 'hot spot' (not listed in the index so I couldn't find it to check that I am right), it didn't give the wi-fi meaning, surely now very common. I think this is more a book to read, savour and enjoy rather than a reference tool.
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This book is recommendable to everyone who is interested in the Englsih language as well as to those which want to polish their english skills. The organisation of the idioms in categories instead of in alphabetical order is what makes this book very special in comarision to the other books on the market. Idioms are easy to find and once found you can inspire yourself while reading the other idioms in this particular category.
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I find this new edition most useful and entertaining as well. The examples used are very helpful, carefully researched and documented. I book worth to be recommended to native speakers as well as to foreigners.
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In my job as a copywriter, this has turned out to be a pretty useful book. It's packed full of the sayings or 'Idioms' you've been hearing all your life, and is organised in a way that's intuitive and easy to use. It'll save you time wracking your brains for ideas when you write, as well as explain to you exactly what sayings like 'give a dog a bad name and hang him' (for example) mean.

Each entry gives an explanation and example of use, and all entries are organised in categories for extra easy reference - which are: Colours, Elements, Weather, Time, Life & Death, Trees & Plants, Animals, Birds, Fish, Insects, Body, Mind, Illness & Ailments, Relations, Town & Around, The House, Furniture & Household Articles, Food, Clothes, Ships, The World And Its Places, Languages & Nationalities, Names, Monarchy & Parliament, War & Peace, Weapons, Tools, Numbers, School & Education, Work & Occupations, Money & Valuables, Games & Sports, Music & Theatre, Word & Words.

So, if you're writing a piece on a certain subject (for instance I was writing something the other based on colours) you can simply flick to that section a find all the sayings and idioms you could ever want to on the subject. Also, there is an index so you can look up individual words - this too is laid out in a way that is very quick and easy to use. For example, let's suppose you need a saying that uses the word 'String'. A quick glance in the index and you will see:

String, a second string to one's bow 258/1; harp on the same s.315/10; have someone on a s.
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I am fascinated by languages and the use of idioms and colloquiums, and in particular how they came about. To that end, this book was a disappointment, as the origins of many idioms have not been explained, for example: "Pig in a poke". This saying was born in medieval times, where some "fly-by-night" market traders would display healthy little piglets, which could be purchased and carried home in a bag (poke) "kindly" provided by the vendor. However, whilst the customer was distracted, the wily trader would stuff a worthless cat into the bag. The tort was not discovered until such time as the unfortunate purchaser returned home; when the cat was let out of the bag! The book does go some way towards explaining the origin of pig in a poke, but for some reason fails link it with letting the cat out of the bag.
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Very formal dictionary of idioms rather than origins (i was seeking the latter). Nevertheless, i bought it as a gift and one for myself - cant say i read it a lot but it was fun for the parts i did but then i realised it is more of a dictionary than an "origin of words"

Good gift though for those Countdown viewer
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Unless you are studying English as a foreign language you will find this far too basic. Indeed many of the entries are hardly idioms at all because they logically mean what they say. Penguin need to take out these non idioms so that they can include idioms which we all find less obvious.
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