By Dint of Phrases: 12 Old Words That Survived Through Idioms




Arika Okrent talks about 12 English words that are only still in use due to idioms in this recent post for Mental Floss.  The full list of words, most (if not all) of either Old English or Old French origin, includes “eke,” “deserts,” “sleight,” “wend,” “dint,” “roughshod,” “fro,” “hue,” “kith,” “lurch,” “umbrage,” and “shrift.”  With respect to “sleight,” which is only used through the idiom “sleight of hand,” Okrent writes:   

“‘Sleight of hand’ is one tricky phrase.  ‘Sleight” is often miswritten as ‘slight’ and for good reason.  Not only does the expression convey an image of light, nimble fingers, which fits well with the smallness implied by ‘slight,’ but an alternate expression for the concept is ‘legerdemain,’ from the French léger de main,” literally, ‘light of hand.’  ‘Sleight’ comes from a different source, a Middle English word meaning ‘cunning” or ‘trickery.’  It’s a wily little word that lives up to its name.”

If you are taking a course with GLN, do you know of any words in the language you are studying that are primarily used in idioms?  Do you know of any English words that could be included Okrent’s list?    


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