How to derive the meaning of an idiom?
Idioms generally have a subtle and coherent meaning but do not have a literal meaning. Let us try to understand a few idioms and the basis of their formation in this unit:
|A piece of cake||A pastry||Simple to accomplish||Eating a piece of cake is a simple thing to do and be accomplished easily.|
|Took to heels||Use the heel part of the leg||Ran away||Use the heel/leg to disappear quickly.|
|To come off with flying colours||To emerge out with a colourful display||To succeed with brilliance||Come off means to emerge; flying and colours depict success, exuberance.|
|Couch potato||A vegetable on the couch||Someone who sits the whole day and barely moves||A potato on the sofa/couch barely moves and stays still the whole day.|
|At the drop of a hat||Dropping a hat||In a quick move, without any second thought||A hat when dropped, falls immediately and does not stop to think again whether it should fall.|
Thus, idioms have been formed by usage of the set of words in various situations by different sources. It is easier to understand the meaning of the idiom if we examine its origin and try to derive it from the literal meaning.