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AHS Subject Guides: Art: Toto

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Toto: Art Project with Idiomatic Expressions

Art Project: Idiomatic Expressions

According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, an idiom is:

“an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (as “no, it wasn't me”) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (as “ride herd on” for “supervise”).


It is this second definition, in which the sum of the words in context is different from the expected meaning of the phrase, that is relevant to this project.


It is difficult to find authoritative online encyclopedic or dictionary resources that explain the meaning of idiomatic expressions, and also provide information about how they originated.  Most of the online resources, while interesting, are not written by authors who provide information about why they can be considered to be experts whose work is reliable. As a result, none of the online sources below is completely authoritative, but at least one of them listed here does include source citations

Online Sources


American Phrases and Sayings: 161 Phrases “Coined in the USA from Phrase Finder.  Though a is a hobby site written by Gary Martin, he includes source citations, and is linked to from a number of academic sites.


Cambridge Dictionaries Online allow you to search for partial phrases in the search box.  They do not explain the origins of expressions, but will provide the meaning.


20 English Idioms with their Meanings and Origins is published by the Oxford Royale Academy, which is NOT part of Oxford University. This is a private educational provider, and the author of the article is not credited.


Print Sources in Library

The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Second Edition, Ammer, Christine

Located at R 423.13 AMMER

All entries include explanations of the origins of the expressions.


A Dictionary of American Idioms, Makkai, Adam

Located at R 423 DIC

Gives meanings, and some entries include origins.


Handbook of commonly used American idioms, Makkai, Adam

Located at R 428 HAN

Gives meanings, but no origins.

Scholastic dictionary of idioms, Marvin Terban.

Located at R 423.1 TERBAN

Amity High School, Amity Region 5 School District, Woodbridge, CT 06525, 203-397-4844 Librarians: Robert F. Musco and Victoria Hulse Copyright 2017