Avoid Using Idiomatic Expressions

Idiomatic expressions are slang expressions. Idioms are simply expressions that have a completely different meaning than the individual words that make up the expression. For example, the phrase add up is an idiom that has the meaning of consistent, as shown in this example:

When I asked the teenagers where they had been, their stories did not add up.

The English language has many idioms. Using them in written material, such as technical documents, is generally not recommended.

Some of the commonly used idioms, along with their meanings, are listed below.

As easy as pie — simple

Antsy — restless

Best around the bush — avoid an issue or question

The bottom line — most important piece of information

Go with the flow — take things as they come

Jump the gun — act hastily

Keep an eye on — watch out for

Leave well enough alone — Take no action

Make a mountain out of a molehill — overreact

Once in a while — occasionally

State of the art — up-to-date

Under the weather — not well

[awsbullet:Rosemarie Ostler]

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  • http://www.solostream.com Alistair Barnett

    This is a very interesting article. I didn’t realize that some things were idioms and have used them myself (not in technical writing, but still).

    I wanted to comment on two of the idioms you listed:

    “Antsy”
    - Is this really an idiom? You mentioned in the first paragraph that they have individual words. It’s only one word, so I would call this more of a synonym for restless.

    “Best around the bush”
    - Looks like there’s a little typo. It should be “Beat” instead of “Best” there.

    Alistair