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Difference between idioms, proverbs and metaphors

Posted by Lewis on August 16, 2004

In Reply to: Difference between idioms, proverbs and metaphors posted by Sathyaish Chakravarthy on August 16, 2004

: I am an Indian, and English is my second language. Inspite of tossing a few odd ones every now and then in my writing as well as in speech, I must admit I sometimes do wonder about the difference. This is like one of those obvious amenities, taken for granted in any sphere of knowledge to be implicitly understood, those that we use overly, but do not so fully claim knowing over their technicalities. So I ask, what's the difference between idioms, proverbs and metaphors?

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proverb - is a saying that makes a truth or piece of wisdom easier to remember e.g. a stitch in time saves nine (minor preventative action is less trouble than disaster-recovery) or 'many a true word spoken in jest' (take care as to what you say, it can reveal more than you may wish)

idiom - is a regularly used form of words, particular in some way - either to an individual or a group. it can form a style of communication.

metaphor - this is where some aspect of the real world is used to describe something similar. it often only relates to some facet(s) on the comparison. it involves describing the subject as the comparison, rather than comparing them using 'as' or 'like'. some metaphors have become so familiar that they have passed into speech as the description of something used without people even realising that they are using a metaphor - I don't know if there is a special word for these 'hidden' metaphors - somebody more educated than I will doubtless advise.