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Coin a phrase

  • The roots of the idiom to coin a phrase may be older than you think. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meaning of the expression to coin a phrase, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

    To coin a phrase means to invent a new saying or idiomatic expression that is new or unique. However, the term to coin a phrase is most often used today in a sarcastic or ironic fashion, in order to acknowledge when someone has used a hackneyed phrase or a cliché. The first use of the word coin as a verb occurred during the 1300s, referring to the process of stamping metal coins with a die. The verb coin then evolved into describing other things that were newly made, and by the 1500s the term to coin a word came into being. Shakespeare wrote in his play Coriolanus, produced in 1607: “So shall my Lungs Coine words till their decay.” The expression to coin a phrase didn’t appear until the mid-1800s, and seems to have been an invention of American English.

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    Examples

    To coin a phrase, Thorpe hopes that while this year’s Surry fair is shorter, it will be sweeter, with much fun and amusement packed into the five days. (The Mount Airy News)

    As for Mrs May, to be castigated by no less a Euromaniac than Lord Heseltine for talking about going on and on, to coin a phrase, is to confer on her the elixir of eternal youth. (The Yorkshire Post)

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