Idiomatic Expression

Learning Object # 10


Topic: Idiomatic Expression

 Identifying the meaning of idiomatic expression.


Target Learners: Fourth year HS



After learning how to give the denotation and connotation of a word or phrase and after learning how to take note context clues, you are now ready to give the meaning of a given idiomatic expression.


Discussion:An idiom is a group of whose meaning is different from the combined

            meanings of the words expressed.


            Example: 1.Do not let her clean the valuable vase because she is all thumbs.

                         It doesn’t mean that her fingers are all thumbs, but it shows carelessness                        or being clumsy.


                        Using Context clues in explaining the meaning of idiomatic expressions

will be easier if you are familiar with the structure on how idioms are formed.


1.    Noun + noun;   crocodile tears means pretended sorrow.

2.    Noun + verb;   French leave means leaving without notice of one’s departure.

3.    Adjective + noun; white lie means a harmless untruth.

4.    Noun + Adjective;  code red means emergency or critical status.

Idioms can be understood through the following techniques:

       1. through context clues or words that surround the expression

Example:  Criminals like him ought to be put behind bars.

Criminal is the clue to identify the meaning of the idiomatic expression behind bars

2.   through illustrations

3.   through its use in the sentence.


Summary:Idioms are better understood with the help of the denotative and connotative

            meanings of words as well as the contexts or the words surrounding it.



            Give the meaning of the following idiomatic expression.


1.    We can’t play lawn tennis today. It has been raining cats and dogs since this morning.

2.     He is an ex-convict but we can see that he’s turning over a new leaf for the sake of his family.

3.    The policemen caught a big fish that the people identified as a drug lord.

4.    I’ve heard of your wedding but it’s only now that I’ve seen your behalf.

5.    That man is so unpredictable. Lord knows what he’ll do next.


Idiomatic Expression

Learning Object # 9

Topic:Idiomatic Expression

Target Learners: Fourth year HS


                        Have you ever received a note like this?:Have you cake and eat it, too.

                        Or we often heard this in the crowd the emcee says: “Let’s give them a big hand”What did you do to find out whether what you read or heard means another thing or not?

                        You have already heard about idioms. This is may be the reason why you sometimes have doubts about the phrases and expressions you hear or read. Actually, a phrase may be idiomatic in one case but not in another. You should be alert to tell which is which.

Objective: identify idiomatic expression

                  Distinguish idiomatic expression from not idiom

Review:Here are some idiomatic expressions, are you familiar with these?

                Onion skin- a person with a very sensitive feeling.

                Burning the midnight oil- study hard

                Once in a blue moon- seldom.


Idiomatic Expressions are words or phrases whose meanings are not implied or expressed literally. These are special phrases that play an essential part in a language.

These are phrases or expressions whose meaning cannot be understood from the literal meanings of the words used. They are considered special because some of them do not follow the rules of grammar and their meanings are difficult to guess.


Cut the atmosphere with a knife, over the hill, pull the strings pull your finger out.

Idioms are also considered special because some of them have become fixed units of the English language but they do not follow the normal rules of grammar.

            Example: come it, setting pretty.

 As a general rule, an idiomatic phrase cannot be altered, no synonymous word can substitute for any word in the expression neither could the arrangement of the words be changed. Doing so would only destroy the idiom and render it meaningless.

            Always use idioms with care. In many idioms, the change in a word or two can alter the whole meaning of the expression.


            He burned the midnight oil just to get high grades.

            (He studied hard to get high grades)


            He got high grades by burning oil in midnight.

            (He does the burning of oil during midnight to support his studies.)


            Idioms can be understood through the following techniques:

  1. through context clues or words that surround the expression
  2. through illustrations
  3. Through its use in the sentence.




 Tell whether the underlined expression in the sentence is an idiom or not.

  1. Accepting one’s defeat is a bitter pill to swallow.
  2. Mother always reminds me to take the back seat when travelling.
  3. Prepare a glass of water and something sweet because the food is a bitter pill to swallow.
  4. When he tied the knot, he didn’t tighten it, so it loosened after some time.
  5. Why not study first before tying the knot with your boy friend? You’re too young to have a family of your own.

Context Clues

Learning Object # 8


Topic:  Deducing the meaning of words thorough logical analysis

Target Learners:   Fourth year HS


            In this lesson you will learn how to get meaning of words through logical analysis and background knowledge.

Objective: deduce meaning of words through logical analysis.


            Using logic and background knowledge, we can guess the meaning of some difficult words and not be too much dependent on the dictionary.


                        1. The commercial said that nothing could hebetate the blade of knife, not even using it against metal or stone.

            Here the phrases “blade of the knife” and “using it against metal or stone” give us the clue that hebetate has something to do with the sharpness of a blade. It becomes clear to us that the phrase “nothing could hebetate” means nothing could remove the sharpness. So, the meaning of hebetate is to “make dull”

  1. When the clandestine activities of the syndicate were discovered by the police, they were arrested immediately.


Clues: Syndicate, discovered, arrested

Meaning: secret and often unlawful or illegal.


            We cannot avoid coming across difficult words in our readings. There are times when the definition of the difficult word is directly stated, but in most cases, it is not. In those cases we can rely on logic and our background knowledge or contrasts that we can find in the text.



Guess the meaning of the underlined words based on the clues given.

  1. Even if the beauty of the fresh flowers is transitory because they die up easily, it is still more advisable to use them as a decoration rather than plastic ones.


Clue: they die up easily                  meaning:

  1. The movement of the cat was so torpid; it was not able to catch the mouse.

Clue: it was not able to catch the mouse            meaning:

  1. She married a nabob with a mansion and hectares of land.

Clue: mansion, hectares of land              meaning:

  1. The pusillanimous soldiers immediately escaped when the enemy killed their general.

Clue: immediately escaped                       meaning:

  1. The teacher showed clemency by letting the student take another exam rather than giving him a failing grade.

Clue: letting the student take another exam.      Meaning:







Context Clues

Learning Object # 7


Topic: Defining word through Contrast.

Target Learners:

 Fourth year HS students.


When you read stories, the definition of many difficult words are usually not given either directly or indirectly, and sometimes when you use dictionary to look up the meaning of a word you don’t understand, you might instantly forget its meaning. In this lesson you will learn how to use contrasts in sentence or texts to get the meaning of difficult words. This will help you not only to get the meaning but also to finish reading the text faster with better understanding.

Objective: Define word through contrast.


                        Sometimes, the “contrasts” or opposing ideas in the sentence or text give us the clue to the meaning of the word.


                                    Evangeline is a brazen woman, unlike her sisters who show much respect for themselves and act as educated ladies.

Notice that in the sentence, the phrase “unlike her sisters who show much respect for themselves and act like ladies” tells us that brazen is the opposite of having respect for oneself. So, brazen means showing no respect for one self, not acting appropriately, or shameless.





            Give the right definition of the words in bold letters through contrasts.

  1. That student looks shy. But I tell you she is very garrulous in the class.
    1. Independent             b. insecure                c. intelligent              d. noisy         
  2. We are used to her long speeches and remarks, but this time she gave a laconic speech.
    1. Short              b. sincere       c. melodramatic        lengthy and wordy.
  3. His stay in the hotel is verifiable, but we did not find evidence that he did something illegal.
    1. Provable        b. very possible        c. can be proven      d. impossible to prove.
  4. She spoke with an arcane language, but the listeners understood her because of the interpreter.
    1. Difficult          b. important   c. understandable    d. understood by few.
  5. The Philippines will attain progress if there will be synergy among the government officials instead of disunity.
    1. Progress        b. successful work   c, unified thinking    d. hopeful ideas.

Context Clues

Learning Object # 6


Topic: Identifying the meaning of a word with multiple meanings

Target learners:

            Fourth Year HS students

                        This Learning Object is applicable for all year levels.  


                        Words have several meanings, depending upon how it is used in a sentence. In this lesson you will learn another way of identifying the meaning of a word with multiple meanings.

                        Example: 1.I would like to address this message to all concerned.

                                          2. Give me your complete address.


The word address has different meanings depending on its usage. The first means refer while the latter means place.

Objective: identify the meaning of word with multiple meanings.


            Another way of identifying word meanings from context is through on how it is used in the sentence, depending on its neighboring words.

            Example: The word square may be given several meanings depending on how it is used in the sentence.

  1. This figure is a square. ( geometrical figure)
  2. Let us give him a square meal. ( satisfying meal)
  3. Try to square yourself.( adjust or set yourself right)
  4. They will perform a square dance. ( a kind of a dance)


The word square is used with different meaning in each sentence.



            Words have several meanings depending upon how is used in a sentence.


            Let’s find out how is the word cell is used. Select its appropriate meaning from the choices given.


  1. A small room for a prisoner or monk.
  2. A small compartment, receptacle, or cavity.
  3. A body of persons forming a single unit in the organization of similar groups.
  4. The unit composing all or part of a battery consisting electrodes in contact with an electrolyte and in which current is generated.
  5. The fundamental structural unit of plants or animals.


  1. The cells in the rehabilitation centers are congested.
  2. 2.    All plants and animals are composed of cells.
  3. Pure honey is extracted from the cells of a beehive.
  4. To be granted a re loan under the livelihood project, each member of the cell must have fully paid his previous loan.
  5. The best way to get the strongest current through a given resistance is by arranging the cells in a series.

Context Clues


Learning Object # 5

Topic: Context clue

            Guessing word meanings through examples or illustrations.

Target learners:

                        Fourth Year HS students

                        This Learning Object is applicable for all year levels.


            You may often come across words which you do not understand when you are reading. It may interrupt your activity and take the joy of it. Therefore, you try to arrive at the meanings of certain words through the clues provided by the words surround them. And one of these clues is through examples and illustrations.


One of the secrets of economic success is to be parsimonious; one may simply cook food and bring packed lunch rather than eat in a fast food chains or walk short distances instead of taking a ride.

The word parsimonious is being illustrated by examples of situations. Through these illustrations we can guess that parsimonious means being thrift or thrifty.



Objective:Guess meaning of word through examples and illustrations




            Another way of guessing word meanings from context is by looking at the examples or illustrations given for a certain term.

                        Example: She went into seclusion. No one came to see her, and she refused to see anyone.

                        The two details that follow explain what seclusion means.


            Giving examples or something that is representative by virtue of having typical features of the thing is one way of guessing word meaning.

            Illustration or something that helps explain: an example or comparison that helps to clarify something can help the reader in guessing the meaning of some difficult words.


            Make a guess! Choose from the given options.

  1. The three brothers were inert. They did not even react to loud music and bright


  1. Controlled          b. inactive      c. unexcited
  2. Solifugids eat so voraciously that they don’t stop eating until they can no longer walk.
    1. With too much desire for food
    2. With so much joyfulness
    3. With so much carelessness to the point of hurting themselves.
  3. His speech was pithy, lasting for only three minutes, but creating a strong impact on the audience.
    1. Complicated       b. long and senseless         c. short
  4. 4.    Richard got a bit nervous when he saw the thugholding a 3”x4” piece of wood staring at him. The man stood 6’5” tall with a muscular built.
    1. Big person           b. construction worker         c. crazy man.
  5. History books tell us how ruthless the Germans were during the Second World War They searched and killed the Jews male and female, young and old.
    1. Decided               b. merciless               unforgiving.

Context Clues

Topic: Context clues

             Deducing meaning of words through synonyms and antonyms

Target Learners:

            Second Year HS students

                        This Learning Object is applicable for all year levels.


Knowing a variety of synonyms and antonyms can add color and variety to your working vocabulary. Thus, you will not get stuck with overused words or expressions. Instead of using the word laugh all the time you may say smile, giggle, chukle, and guffaw.


Objectives: Deduce meaning of words through synonyms and antonyms.

Review:Synonyms- are words that are similar in meaning.

                        Example: weep- cry

                Antonyms- are words that are opposite in meaning.

                        Example- weep- laughs


            One of the ways to get the meaning of difficult words in a context is by looking up for its synonyms and antonyms.

            Sometimes, the word that can help us get the meaning of an unfamiliar term is a synonym variant or antonym variant of the specific term.

            Example: The hubbub in the garden woke the baby up, so the mother told the children not to be noisy.

            Synonym variant- children;   synonym/meaning- noise


            Example: Jordan has been noticed by his teachers for being reserved. His classmates are trying to find a way for him to develop friendliness.

            Antonym variant – friendliness; meaning- unfriendly.

Synonym Variants are words are words that have the same idea but are different n part of speech.

             Example: beautiful and beauty have the same idea, but beautiful is adjective while beauty s noun.

Antonym variants are words that are basically opposite in meaning, but are different in parts of speech.

            Example: happy is an adjective sadness is a noun.

            You must be careful when you use synonyms. Generally, synonyms do not have exactly the same meanings and most often they cannot be used interchangeably. Spacious is a synonym for big. You may say a big girl but not a spacious girl. Precise use of synonyms are requires knowledge of the shades of differences in meaning of these words.


              Knowledge about synonyms and antonyms can help you choose from a multitude of words. You will not fall into the pernicious habit of using the same words over and over again and gradually free your discourse from monotony. This will train you to be precise. In the same way that this knowledge is a great help in deducing the meaning of difficult words you may encounter in your readings.



Give the correct synonym of the underlined words in the following sentences.

  1. After a long pause, the investigation is now going to continue. They will pursue the proceedings.
  2. We gave her something to mitigate the pain she was feeling, but it was not able to lessen even for a few minutes.
  3. The dispute was not settled in the barangay so the argument was taken to court.


Give the correct antonym of the underlined words in the following sentences.

  1. Tom’s excuse is very plausible, but I really think you reason is impossible.
  2. There is so much bedlam in some communities that they can do nothing but pray for a leader that could bring order.
  3. His lugubrious appearance today doesn’t seem right for his usual happy character.

Context Clues

Topic:  Context Clues:

Recognizing Definition as a Context clue


Target Learners:

                        Second Year HS students

                        This Learning Object is applicable for all year levels.


Improving one’s vocabulary does not merely mean that you can recognize new words. It means the ability to understand these words when you encounter them in your reading and the ability to use them writing and in conversation.

You do not have to look up the dictionary every word you do not understand. Oftentimes, you can get the meaning from the context of the sentence where the word is found.

In this lesson, you will learn how to look for the definition of a word in a text.

Objective:Recognize definition as a context clue.

Review:    Analyze the example given


  1. You must try to fulfill your oath because it is a solemn promise.

The word oath is being defined as solemn promise, without looking the dictionary we can easily get the meaning of that word because it is found in the text.


Context clues indicate whish of the possible meanings of a word is intended by the writer or speaker.

      One of the clues you can find to define a word is its exact definition in the text after a comma.

      Example:  I thought my patient had the worst case until I found out that he has boanthrophy,a mental disorder in which a man believes that he is an ox.

      We can find the definition of some words in sentences inside the parentheses.

Example:  The hunters went to the tropical areas of America to find Manakins(a small tropical bird with beautiful feathers), but found no sign of them.

There are times when a word is defined in a part of the sentence separated by a dash.

      Example: She was in the telpher– a light car hanging from cables-when the power was shot down by lightning.

We can also find the meaning of a word in a text through the signal word “or” before or after the word being defined.

Example: To translate orally or to construe is a very difficult task if the person speaking is delivering a poem.


                        It is very important to pay attention to parentheses, commas, dashes, and the word “or” because they often signal that the definition of the word will follow.




Give the definition of the underlined word in each sentence.

  1. We failed to make the clay ball spherical or globose, so we just made a


  1. Most fruits blet-decay internally-several days after ripening.
  2. He worked in the publishing house for ten years and learned reprography (the production of graphic material) until he became supervisor.
  3. Many volunteers arrived at the site with a portmanteau (a large suitcase for clothes) and their packed since the first free meal starts at dinner.
  4. Nowadays, it is not surprising that many children and adolescents have a mania, a strong uncontrollable desire, for television and video games.


Topic:Expressing Connotation of words

Target Learners: Second year HS

                              This lesson is applicable to all year levels.


                        It has been mentioned that one cause of failure to understand or to be understood is the difference in the meaning that you or others give to a word or to an expression. It is important, therefore, that you learn about denotations and connotation as well.

                        This lesson will help you improve your skill in expressing connotations.

Objective: Express connotation of words or phrase.

Review:    You have learned that denotation is the literal or the dictionary meaning of a


                        Example: fire place –it denotes a place built for holding fire.

                                                        It may have a connotation of comfort because of

the warmth it gives or it may connote something

depending upon the person’s experience who

will give the meaning.


            Connotations are emotional subjective meanings and associations that people may connect with the word. Some words tend to have positive connotations while others tend to have negative meanings. Variations in meanings depend on the emotion and experience of the reader or the listener.

            Connotation refers to the associated, implied, indirect, or secondary meaning of a word.

            Example: HOME– connotes love,family,happiness

Connotative meanings are usually derived from the explicit meaning of the given word or phrase. For example, a friend may be defined denotatively as a companion or associate, but if you will give connotative meaning, you can state it as “a shoulder to lean on”

For a connotation to be clear to the one spoken to, a word or group words should be used as clues, this words is known as context or context clue. Forexample, the word rain may connoteblessings or tears.


Example: After breaking up with her boyfriend, she locked herself in her room. There rain fell the whole night. (Rain in this sentence means tears because of the context clue-After breaking up with her boyfriend; she locked herself in the room.)


If the denotation of a word is the exact, literal meaning of that word, its connotation is the added meaning the word suggests or implies. Just like in denotations, a word may have more then one connotations. For example, the denotation of slender and skinny is thin, butslender connotes approval while skinny disapproval.White denotes color which contains all the visible of the spectrum; but it may connote such qualities as purity and holiness.





 Select the idea often associated with the given word or phrase.

  1. Snake                  a. enemy                   b. medicine
  2. Falling leaves     a. death of people    b. passing of days
  3. Rising sun          a. beauty                    b. hope
  4. Mother                  a. father’s companion   b. light of home
  5. Strong wind        a. opposition             b. problem
  6. Typhoon              a. problem                 b. rain
  7. Torch                    a. light                        b. victory
  8. Christmas            a. giving present      b. going to church
  9. Apple                    a. satisfaction           b. temptation

10. Green                   a. freshness    

Learning Objects


Topic: Identifying/expressing the Denotation of a word or phrase.

Target Learners: Second year HS

                              This lesson is applicable to all year levels.


Sometimes we fail to understand what other people say or failed to be understood by other people because of the difference in meaning of word that you or other people give to a word or to an expression, just like for example the word RED, it could be mean hatred, love, brave or something, but other people might say it’s just a color. Actually, both meanings are correct. But each one is different from the other; it is only the user who can tell which of the two ideas is meant in a given situation.

This lesson will help you improve your skill in expressing denotations.


            Express the denotation of a word or phrase.


            Little difference:

            Connotation–   emotional or subjective meanings of a word or phrase.

            Denotation – refers to the direct or primary meaning of a word, sometimes it is

called the literal or dictionary meaning

Example:  fireplace- it denotes a place to hold a fire

                                    It may connote a comfort or something.

            Denotation– is the objective meaning of the word given in the dictionary.

                        Example: the word houseis defined denotatively; it means a colder and

narrower definition, it is limited to four walls and the material

meaning of shelter or building.


            Identifying denotation is much easier than that of the connotation. Denotation has fixed meanings that can be easily be found in dictionaries and reference materials while connotation varies according to the person who is giving such meaning.


            Give one word as denotation of the phrases that follow.

1. the biggest planet in the solar system.

2. the third planet nearest to the sun.

3. the heavenly body where the earth revolves.

4. the color of snow or salt.

5. the color of blood.

6. the combination of yellow and orange.

7. the color of darkness.

8. the color of the clear sky in daylight.

9. the color like that of toasted coffee.

10.the planet nearest to the sun.

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