Ask Difference

Colloquialism vs. Idiom — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 18, 2023
Colloquialism refers to informal language used in everyday speech, whereas an idiom is a phrase whose meaning isn't deduced from the individual words.

Difference Between Colloquialism and Idiom

ADVERTISEMENT

Key Differences

Colloquialism represents informal speech patterns or terms that are often specific to a certain region, group, or age demographic. Conversely, an idiom is a phrase or expression with a figurative meaning distinct from the literal meaning of its individual words.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023
While colloquialisms may or may not be universally understood outside their specific context, idioms can be more broadly recognized, even if their literal meanings might seem nonsensical.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023
It's important to note that while colloquialisms are informal and might not be found in formal written works, idioms can make their way into both casual and formal discourse.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023
Some colloquialisms might become so ingrained in a language that they're accepted in all forms of communication. However, the unique nature of idioms means that, without prior knowledge, they can be confusing to non-native speakers.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023
Both colloquialisms and idioms enrich a language, making it more colorful. They reflect cultural nuances, historical events, or societal changes which might influence the way people communicate.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023
ADVERTISEMENT

Comparison Chart

Nature

Informal speech patterns or terms
Phrases with figurative meanings
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Context

Often specific to region, group, or age
Universally recognized, but meaning isn't clear from individual words
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Use in Formal Writing

Rarely found
Can be found in both casual and formal discourse
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Recognition

Might not be universally understood outside specific context
Broadly recognized
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Relation to Culture

Reflects linguistic and societal nuances
Reflects cultural, historical, or societal influences on language
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023
ADVERTISEMENT

Compare with Definitions

Colloquialism

Reflects societal or group-specific language usage.
Dude is a colloquialism often used among friends.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Idiom

Reflects the rich figurative nature of language.
It's raining cats and dogs is an idiom meaning it's raining heavily.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Colloquialism

Informal language characteristic of casual conversation.
Wanna is a colloquialism for want to.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Idiom

Used in both formal and informal contexts.
Break a leg is an idiom used to wish someone good luck.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Colloquialism

A regional speech pattern or term.
Y'all is a southern colloquialism meaning you all.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Idiom

Often culturally specific language expressions.
Bite the bullet is an idiom meaning to face a difficult situation.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Colloquialism

Language not typically found in formal writing.
Gonna is a colloquialism for going to.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Idiom

Can be confusing for non-native speakers.
Spill the beans is an idiom meaning to reveal a secret.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Colloquialism

Colloquialism or colloquial language is the linguistic style used for casual communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normally employed in conversation and other informal contexts.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

A phrase with a meaning different from its literal interpretation.
Kick the bucket is an idiom meaning to die.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Colloquialism

A word or phrase that is not formal or literary and is used in ordinary or familiar conversation
The colloquialisms of the streets
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a figurative, non-literal meaning attached to the phrase; but some phrases become figurative idioms while retaining the literal meaning of the phrase. Categorized as formulaic language, an idiom's figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Colloquialism

Colloquial style or quality.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

A group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g. over the moon, see the light).
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Colloquialism

A colloquial expression.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

A characteristic mode of expression in music or art
They were both working in a neo-impressionist idiom
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Colloquialism

A colloquial word or phrase; a common spoken expression.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

A speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, as in keep tabs on.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Colloquialism

Colloquial style of speaking.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

The specific grammatical, syntactic, and structural character of a given language.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Colloquialism

A colloquial expression, not employed in formal discourse or writing.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

Regional speech or dialect.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Colloquialism

A colloquial expression; characteristic of spoken or written communication that seeks to imitate informal speech
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

A specialized vocabulary used by a group of people; jargon
Legal idiom.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Colloquialism

Can evolve with time and become standard language.
Cool as a colloquialism for good has become widely accepted.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Idiom

A style of artistic expression characteristic of a particular individual, school, period, or medium
The idiom of the French impressionists.
The punk rock idiom.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

A manner of speaking, a mode of expression peculiar to a language, language family, or group of people.
In English, idiom requires the indefinite article in a phrase such as "she's an engineer", whereas in Spanish, idiom forbids it.
Some of the usage prescriptions improved clarity and were kept; others that yielded discordant violations of idiom were eventually revised.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

(programming) A programming construct or phraseology that is characteristic of the language.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

A language or language variety; specifically, a restricted dialect used in a given historical period, context etc.
In the idiom of the day, they were sutlers, although today they'd probably be called vendors.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

An established phrasal expression whose meaning may not be deducible from the literal meanings of its component words.
She often spoke in idioms, pining for salad days and complaining about pots calling the kettle black.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

An artistic style (for example, in art, architecture, or music); an instance of such a style.
The idiom of the expressionists
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

The syntactical or structural form peculiar to any language; the genius or cast of a language.
Idiom may be employed loosely and figuratively as a synonym of language or dialect, but in its proper sense it signifies the totality of the general rules of construction which characterize the syntax of a particular language and distinguish it from other tongues.
By idiom is meant the use of words which is peculiar to a particular language.
He followed their language [the Latin], but did not comply with the idiom of ours.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

An expression conforming or appropriate to the peculiar structural form of a language.
Some that with care true eloquence shall teach,And to just idioms fix our doubtful speech.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

A combination of words having a meaning peculiar to itself and not predictable as a combination of the meanings of the individual words, but sanctioned by usage; as, an idiomatic expression; less commonly, a single word used in a peculiar sense.
It is not by means of rules that such idioms as the following are made current: "I can make nothing of it." "He treats his subject home." Dryden. "It is that within us that makes for righteousness." M. Arnold.
Sometimes we identify the words with the object - though by courtesy of idiom rather than in strict propriety of language.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

The phrase forms peculiar to a particular author; as, written in his own idiom.
Every good writer has much idiom.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

Dialect; a variant form of a language.
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

A manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

The usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people;
The immigrants spoke an odd dialect of English
He has a strong German accent
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

The style of a particular artist or school or movement;
An imaginative orchestral idiom
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Idiom

An expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up
Tayyaba Rehman
Apr 05, 2018

Common Curiosities

Are colloquialisms acceptable in formal writing?

Typically, colloquialisms are avoided in formal writing in favor of more standard language.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

What is a Colloquialism?

A colloquialism is informal language used in everyday conversation, often specific to a region or group.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

How does an Idiom differ from a Colloquialism?

An idiom is a phrase with a figurative meaning, while a colloquialism is informal language or slang.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Can colloquialisms be found in literature?

Yes, colloquialisms can be used in literature, especially in dialogue to depict realistic speech.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Why might idioms be challenging for non-native speakers?

Idioms' meanings aren't directly derived from their words, making them hard for those unfamiliar with the cultural context.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Do all regions or countries have their own colloquialisms?

Yes, colloquialisms can be region-specific, reflecting linguistic and cultural nuances.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Can idioms be found in formal contexts?

Yes, idioms can be used in both formal and informal contexts, as long as they're widely understood.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Are idioms universal across languages?

While some idioms might have equivalents in other languages, they often reflect unique cultural or linguistic traits.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Are idioms always several words long?

While many idioms are phrases, some can be shorter or even single words with figurative meanings.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

How do colloquialisms evolve over time?

Colloquialisms can change or emerge with societal shifts, trends, or influences from media and pop culture.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Can a colloquialism ever become standard language?

Yes, some colloquialisms become so widely accepted that they integrate into standard language.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 18, 2023

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Link
⮪ Previous Comparison
Mucus vs. Sputum
Next Comparison ➦
Pealing vs. Peeling

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Featured Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Phrases