Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, cover

Informal and Conversational English Usage for Students and Readers

Fluency needs an ability to use language idiomatically at the right times and understand it in conversation. This book is a guide to English idioms from around the world.

Although the Cambridge Idioms Dictionary is clearly aimed at the learner of English who needs to understand everyday usage it also deserves a place on the bookshelf of native English readers. English is now an internationally diverse language with a wide variation of idiomatic use. As a result many locally familiar terms may not be familiar to users of English in other countries or even regions. This book will enable travellers and readers of global English to bridge that gap in understanding.

Format and Structure of Cambridge Idioms Dictionary

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary is a small format volume of 505 pages. It has a classic dictionary layout with the key words heading each entry in bold on a coloured bar. Each entry consists of common idioms that use the word in bold with an explanation of its meaning and examples of usage. Variations of the phrase are also included and where the expression is country specific the source (English, American and Australian ) is also made clear.

For the benefit of those learning English the idioms are categorised as:

  • Informal – used with friends and family in relaxed situations
  • Formal – serious or polite use in conversation and formal writing
  • Very informal – very informal or not very polite forms often used between members of social groups
  • Old-fashioned – still used but are or sound old-fashioned
  • Taboo – those idioms likely to cause offence and never used in formal situations
  • Humorous – idioms intended to make people laugh
  • Literary – more used in literature rather than everyday speech

Guide to Using Cambridge Idioms Dictionary and Usage Topics

There is guide at the front of Cambridge Idioms Dictionary to explain how it is designed to be used. At the back there are topic pages illustrating useful appropriate idioms for common needs. These include amongst others topics such as:

  • Agreeing and disagreeing
  • Anger
  • Conversation
  • Work and Business
  • Happiness and Sadness
  • Euphemisms
  • Friends and Family.

This section will help the student of English to apply idioms in a natural and accurate manner to improve their conversational fluency and to make it sound more fluent to native listeners.

The final section are exercises, with answers, to help the student understand and use the more common idioms on their own.

A Valuable Reference for Students of English and Keen Readers

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary is clearly of greatest use to intermediate and advanced learners of English but it will also be useful to those native speakers who consume English from around the world. With the growth of satellite television, the internet and internationally published books native English speakers, sometimes even in the same country, will come across expressions with which they are not familiar. This book will be useful addition to the traditional dictionary and fun just to browse the variety and richness of the English language.

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary (Second Edition 2006, ISBN: 978-0-521-67769-1) is published in paperback by Cambridge University Press at £17.30.

It could be said that Cambridge Idioms Dictionary "hits the mark", "is spot on" and" is just the job". It provides a valuable guide to English as it is spoken in real life.


First appeared on Suite101

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