Idioms with Words

Idioms with Words

An idiom is “a group of words whose meaning cannot be predicted from the meanings of the constituent words, as for example (It was rainingcats and dogs” (The Free Dictionary). This style of expression is natural to native speakers of a language for it is an important cultural element of a language. Thus, some benefits that we can gain from learning idioms are among others: we can learn a cultural element of a language; improve our understanding of a text, conversation or talks in a language by its native speakers; and help us enhance our language skills.

In addition to proper grammar usage, using idioms is one of the ways to possibly make our writing look like that of a native. In the field of translation, translating idioms is one of the challenges that may be encountered by translators especially in literary translation. Mona Baker (1992: 63) mentions that there are five things that normally cannot be done to an idiom as it will lose its sense: the translator cannot change the order of the words in an idiom; cannot delete a word from it; cannot add a word to it; replace one word by another one; and change its grammatical structure.

The following examples are seven idioms using “word” quoted from The Free Dictionary along with their meaning, examples and translation of the meaning in Indonesian. The translations provided below are just some alternatives. We can either translate idioms with idioms that correspond in TL (the target language), paraphrase them if they don’t have their corresponding idioms in TL, or employ other strategies depending on the nature of the text and the audience so long as the meaning is properly presented in TL.

of his word

1. “man of his word or woman of her word”—a trustworthy, reliable person (dapat dipercaya; yang kata-katanya dapat dipegang) e.g. He is a man of his word.

2. “of few words”—not talkative; laconic; taciturn (tidak banyak bicara) e.g. Jack is a man of few words. Most of his friends call him a man of action.

3. “of many words”—talkative; loquacious; wordy (banyak bicara; cerewet) e.g. I can’t keep up with this man of many words. 

4. “eat your words”—to admit what you said is wrong (menarik ucapan kembali; mengakui pernyataannya yang salah) e.g. I may eat my words, but I don’t think Holly is going to be able to do this.

5. “be as good as one’s word”—to do what one has promised (tepat janji) e.g. She is as good as her words.

6. “in so many words” —in unequivocal terms; explicitly (dengan tegas; secara eksplisit; secara terang-terangan) e.g. She told them in so many words to get out.

7. “in a word” —in summary; in short. (singkatnya; secara ringkas) e.g. ‘So, tell me, do you find him attractive?’ ‘In a word – no.’

See you again in the next article! 😀 😉 😀


Baker, Mona., 1992. In Other Words. London: Routledge.

The Free Dictionary:

Article by Luh Windiari

TranslationPapers Bali

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