Oleh : Maxi CM Lengkey


Tujuan dari penulisan ini untuk memberikan gambaran tentang idiom sebagai bagian dari bahasa dan penguasaan makna suatu Idiom Makna yang dimaksud adalah makna kalimal dan makna pembicara. Idiom sebagai bagian bahasa dapatjuga mencerminkan kultur suatu bangsa. Artikel ini membahas Idiom dari segi pembentukannya, yaitu pertama idiom leksemikyang terdiri atas idiom yang memiliki inti verba, idiom yang memiliki inti nomina , idiom yang memiliki inti adjektiva dan idiom yang memiliki inti adverbia. Kedua idiom yang merupakan frase, serta idiom yang merupakan peribahasa semua ini akan memperluas pengetahuan dalam hal penguasaan kosa kata dalam bahasa Inggris.


“Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbol by means of which human being coop­erate and communicate one to another (Gleason, 1972 :10)”. Through Language peo­ple can communicate and express their feeling and idea in social interaction. Language is also used by the people for a number of communi­cating purposes, such as greeting, promising, refusing, condoling, and many others. In other words, language has important roles in all level of man kind.

As an international language, English is considered to be one of foreign languages, which is very important to be learned in many countries including Indonesia, with the aim to absorb science, technology, culture from the countries which are using English as a tool of communication or from countries which are using English as their second language.

Like other language all over the world, English has its own characteristics. One of its characteristics is idiom. Idiom is expression of two or more words where those words can not be interpreting those words literally, but should be translated as a unity (Beekman and Callow, 1974:121).

Every language in the world has its own idiomatic expression to express mean

ing. Lexically each language has many idioms which consisting of iconic meaning and deitic meaning. Here we have two terms to be ex­plained those are : First, Icon is a sign which stand for something merely because it resem-

bles it or as a sign whose qualities resembles those of that object, and excite analogous sensa­tions in the mind for which it is a likeness ( Pierce in Noth, 1995 :122). Second, Deitic is the meaning which is determined by the context and functions to show another part of language such as, pronoun, article, etc.

In language development, new idioms come up regularly once or twice in daily com­munication but later on they disappear, while others still used by the speakers. Students who are learning language when they facing idioms matter, the will get confuse because of the translation that they should make to get clear description of the meaning of the idioms. In learning idioms learners should have knowl­edge of culture from which country the idioms are produced.

Allshop and Woods ( 1990) explain the use of idiom based on its field. They classify idioms such as :

/. x + Adjective….

where x is the same as, verb, noun, ad­jective then x functions as intensifier of adjec­tive. For examples :


Average, Black, Clear, Hard

x + Adjective

above average, pitch black, crystal clear, die hard


lebih dari biasa, sangat gelap, jelas sekali, keras kepala

2. Like + phrase……….

This form shows comparison, and it stress on the situation. For examples :

Like a cat in the brick “gelisah, resah” like a redreg to a bull “memancing kemarahan “

3. …be as adjective as

This form stress on so that we can get clear meaning from it. Such as :

As clear as new pin

“sangat bersih” as clear as crystal

“jelas, nyata”

4. verb + like …….

This form refers to some one’s action, by comparing something to get good result from what he has done. For examples :

To eat like a horse ” kuat makan ” to go like a bomb ” ngebut, lari cepat”

5. not + verb + a/another noun

not to be in the market ” tidak ingin berbelanja”

6. when + it comes to …………

when it comes to adventure holiday, nothing will stop me

“bila liburan tiba tak ada yang dapat menghentikanku “

when it comes to heavy work, it stand reason that men are better than women

“latkala saat kerja berat, dapat di-mengerti laki-laki lebih baik dari wanita “

The mystery of idioms are also explained by Hockett (1958 : 303-304). He made an analysis about idioms and classifies idioms as follows :

1. Substitution.

2. Proper Names

3. Abbreviation

4. Compound Phrase

5. Figure of Speech

6. Slang

Boatner (1975 :vi) states, idiom is new meaning description to a group of word which have its own meaning. He classifies idiom as follows:

1. Lexemic Idioms consists of: a. Verbal in nature idiom, b. Adjectival in nature idiom c. Nominal in nature idiom d. Adverbial in nature idiom.

2. Phrase form idiom

3. Complete form idiom

4. Proverbs

The writer delimit, his work on lexemic , phrase form and proverbs. Complete form id­iom in English is difficult to find except to kick the bucket ” meninggal”. Why? this form is very limit because we can not change the forms into another construction in the form of passive as example, if we do that it will has different mean­ing,

I. Lexemic Idioms

1. Verbal in nature idiom

Verbal in nature idiom is the idiom which have verb as the core of the meaning in its con­struction, such as :

get away “menyingkir”

call up ” menelpon”

turn off ” menghentikan, memadamkan”

pick up ” mengambil, menjemput”

find out ” menemukan, mengetahui’

look at ” melihat, memperhatikan.’

look for ” mean call on ” mengunjungi”

pick out ” memilih “

talk over ” merundingkan”

stand up “berdiri”

get along ” berhasil’

take part ” mengambil bagian”

2. Nominal in nature idiom

Nominal in nature idiom is the idiom which have noun as the core of the meaning in its construction, such as :

hot dog ‘sosis’

all the same ” sama saja’

box office “ loket penjualan karcis”

apple of one’s eyes ‘kesayangan seseorang”

waiting list “daftar tunggu”

grab bag tc tas undian”

eye shadow “celak mata”

peeping torn “seseorang yang suka menintip”

pen pal “sahabat pena”

cold fish “orang yang tak memiliki rasa kehangatan”

eager beaver ” orang yang rajin sekali”

cat house ” tempat pelacuran”

flesh and blood ” darah daging, sanak saudara”

grease monkey ” montir mobil”

3. Adjectival in nature idiom

Adjectival in nature idiom is the idiom which have adjective as the core of the meaning in its construction, such as :

born-yesterday ” kurang pengalaman”

man to man ” jujur, terbuka”

knock out ” tidak sadar”

pint –size ” sangat kecil”

out of one’s head ” mengigau, berlaku seperti orang gila”

full fledge ” penuh, lengkap”

every other ” berselang satu kali”

dry behind the ears ” berpengalaman”

caught short ” tidak memiliki persediaan”

on the blink ” rusak”

go-go “semangat”

3. Adverbial in nature idioms

Adverbial in nature idiom is the idiom which have adverb as the core of the meaning in its construction, such as :

after all ” bagaimanapun juga”

back and forth ” mondar-mandir”

face-to-face “berhadapan langsung”

out of nowhere “tidak diduga sebelumnya”

pit a pat ” berdebar-debar”

from way back “sejak dahulu”

en masse ” seluruhnya”

even so ” meskipun demikian”

at one’s feet ” di bawah kekuasaaan”

arm in arm ” bergandengan tangan”

hear and now ” saat in juga”

world without end ” selama-lamanya”

II. Phrase Form Idioms

Phrase form idiom, well known as lurn of phrase is word or phrase in written form or utterances which is used by man or certain group of society to express their ideas of some­thing . Such as :

to fly the handle ” hilang kontrol diri”

to blow one’s slack ” sangat marah “

to build the castle in the air ” impian hari ini”

to be caught behveen devil and the deep ” tidak tahu berbuat apa-apa”

to kick the bucket meninggal”

to have one’s heart in one’s mouth ” mejdai takut, gugup’

to win the day ” menjadi pemenang”

to keep an eye on mengawasi dengan seksama “

to fall upon ” menyerang”

to play second fiddle “menjadi tidak penting”

to march in Indian file ” berbaris beraturan’

to have a bee in one’s bonnet “ memilki sebuah ide gila “

to paddle in your canoe ” melakukan sesuatu sendiri”

to make a clean breast off ” mengaku ‘

to burn the candle at both hands “meggunakan terlalu banyak tenaga’

to see the light ” mengerti”

to kill two birds in one stone “melakukan dua pekerjaan sekaligus “

to earn- coal to Newcastle “melakukan sesuatu yang tak pent ing”

to spin a yam ” bercerita “

to read between the lines menemukan arti yang sebenarnya”

a snake in the grass tak dapat dipercaya “

a bed of roses ” sangat menyenangkan “

a cat on hot bricks “sangat gugup “

a cat and dog’s life ” selalu bertengkar”

a chip of the old block ” mirip dengan ayah “

a green horn ” tidak berpengalaman “

a red letter day ” hari yang tidak penting”

a skeleton in the cupboard ” hal memalukan yang disembunyikan “

at sixes and sevens ” bingung

at the eleventh hour ” saat-saat akhir “

an eye for an eye teeth for teeth ” membalas kejahatan dengan Kejahatan “

by word of mouth ” dengan ucapan “

blood is thicker than water ” saudara lebih kuat ikatannya”

beside the point ” tidak sesuai”

chicken hearted ” lemah dan penakut”

in stitches               ” masalah serius”

no laughing matter ” tertawa tanpa control”

up and coming      ” menjanjikan “

walk of life           “seluruh aspek kehidupan”

III. Proverbs

Proverb is a sentence or part of sentence which functions as a toll of sending message to the other person and it has form, meaning and its function in the society. We can find proverb in English as follows :

after a storm conies a calm ” ada sesuatu berharga setelah melewati masalah ” ;

all good things come to end ” segala sesuatu ada akhimya “

burnt child dreads the fire ? ” pengalaman pahit membuat seorang berhati-hati “

a bird in the hands is worth then twoin the bush ” seekor burung di tangan lebih baik

dari pada dua yang ada di udara “.

better late than never ” lebih baik terlambat daripada tidaksama sekali”

do as you would be done up” apabila engkau tidak ingin orang lain melakukan sesuatu padamu jangan juga engaku melakukan hal yang sama pada orang itu ”

easier said than done “lebih ntudah berkata dari pada melakukan

every dog has its day ” nasib baik datang sekali pada setiap kita”

don ‘t teach your grandmother to suck the egg “jangan menasehati orang yang lebih pengalaman dari kita”

make hay while sunshine ” sediakan payung sebelum hujan “

all well that ends well ” awal yang baik akan berakhir dengan baik”

bread is the staff of life ” makanan membantu untuk hidup “

call a spade a spade “bicara dengan bahasa yang bisa di-mengerti

don ‘t cross the bridge till you come to it “jangan mengawatirkan sesuatu sampai hal itu terjadi”

the child is the father of a man ” dengan belajar karakter anak kita akan mengetahui seperti apa dia kelak nanti “

one good turn deserves another ” suatu kebaikan horns dibalas kebaikan ‘

out of sight, out of mind “jauh dimata, jauh di hati”

first come, first serve ” yang duluan mendapat pilihan yang balk”

grasp all, lose all ” orangyang tamak akan kehiiangan apa yang sudah dia miliki’

let bygones be bygones ” ampunilah dan lupakanlah “

never do things by halves selesaikan sesuatu yang telah dimulai”

paddle your own canoe “jangan berharap orang lain akan selalu membantu “

look before you leap ” pertimbangkan masak-masak sebelum melakukan sesuatu “

never buy a pig in a poke ” coba segala sesuatu sebelum nenbayar”

practice makes perfect “latihan akan membuat sempurna “

prevention is better than cure “mencegah lebih baik dari mengobati”

practice what you preach ” berlakukalah sama seperti yang engkau nasehatkan kepada orang lain

time is money ” waktu berharga seperi uang”

one swallow doesn ‘t make a summer” sebuah bukti tak bisa membuktikan segalanya “

half of loaf is better than no bread” bersyukurlah dengan apa yang kita dapat walaupun itu lidak sesuai dengan apa yang kita harapkan “

first thrive then wife ” jangan menikah sebelum engkau siapuntuk melakukannva “

United we strength, divided we fall “‘ bersatu kita teguh, bercerai kita runtuh’


Idiom is one of language characteristics, which is owned by every language in the world. We can inferred that, Idiomatic expression in English can be categorized as follows :Lexemic Idioms, consists of, verbal in nature, nominal in nature, adjectival in nature and adverbial in nature idioms and next is phrase form Idioms, then complete form Idioms, finally proverbs.

Understanding an idiomatic expression will help us to understand culture of one nation, since idioms is produced of one’s mind and it will be influenced by his culture, where can also learn meaning and enlarge our vocabulary sizes in English.


Allshop, Jake and Louis Woods. 1990. Making Sense of Idioms. Self study Edition with answer. London : Cassel Publisher Lim­ited.

Boatner and Gates. 1975. A Dictionary of American Idiom. New York : Barren’s Educational Series, Inc.

Gleason, H.A. 1972. An Introduction to De-scriptive linguistics. New York : H o 1 t Reinhart & Winston

Hockett, C. F. 1965. A. Course In Modern Eng­lish Linguislics.Ncvi Delhi: Oxford & Ibh Publishing, Co

Noth WinfHed. 1995. Hand Book of Semiotics. Indiana University Press, the United States of America.

Pandey, N.H. 2001. Tipe-Tipe Idiom Bahasa Inggris Dalam Novel Armance Karya Stendhal Skripsi. Manado : Fakultas Sastra Unsrat


2 Responses

  1. it is a good writing. I also intended to write the same topic for my last assignment. Wuold it be possible to have copies of your references?
    Thank you, ayu

  2. Max, why there’s no description about complete form idioms?

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