NOUN IDIOMS
ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE

NOUN IDIOMS

A noun idiom is a unique noun phrase with a unique meaning. It can be replaced by another noun phrase, usually a noun and its modifier(s), with a corresponding meaning. It normally begins with an article and ends with a noun. Another important feature of the noun idiom is that it performs the function of a noun phrase. The following are some examples of noun idioms with their corresponding meanings in parentheses.

  • a silver lining (a redeeming feature/ a ray of hope).
  • a man of many parts (a man of many abilities/ a talented man).
  • a silver tongue (a sweet style of speaking).
  • a sleeping partner (a financier without active labour).
  • a thorn in my flesh/side (an obstacle or a constant source of annoyance).
  • a far cry (a long distance).
  • the lion’s share (major portion).
  • a storm in a tea cup (a disturbance over a trifle matter).
  • a lame excuse (an unsatisfactory explanation).
  • a man of his word (a faithful man).
  • a man of straw (a weak, and easily defeated imaginary person/opponent).
  • the last straw (the final blow/addition to a task that makes it intolerable).
  • a rope of sand (an unreliable thing).
  • the gift of the gab (fluency of speech).
  • a red-letter day (a happy day).
  • a slow coach (a lazy fellow).
  • a close-fisted man (a miser).
  • a hard nut to crack (a difficult problem to solve).
  • a white elephant (a costly but unprofitable establishment).
  • a big gun (an important person).
  • a friend at court (a friend in need).
  • a bolt from the blue (an unexpected shock).
  • a chip off the old block (exactly like one’s father).
  • a dog in the manger (very selfish).
  • a maiden edition (first publication).
  • crocodile tears (hypocritical action.
  • Sword of damocles (“mythical” impending danger).
  • Greek gift (“mythical” a gift that becomes a curse to the receiver).
  • a Pyrrhic victory (a victory at great costs).
  • a Pandora box (“mythical” any source of great and unexpected troubles).
  • an Utopian project (a fanciful but an unrealisable project).
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