A far cry from

A far cry from is an idiom that has murky origins. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom a far cry from, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A far cry from describes something that is very different from the item it is being compared to. For instance, one may say that sleeping on hay is a far cry from sleeping on a feather bed. The expression a far cry from came into its figurative use in the early 1800s; however, a far cry from was used as a measurement of distance for hundreds of years before that time. Earlier, a far cry from meant that someone was too far away to hear a loud human cry.


A far cry from her indie beginnings, Mai’s musical growth is laid out in Portnoo, an instrumental and stargazing ode to one of Donegal’s gems. (Irish Times)

And what they’re growing is a far cry from the garlic many of us are used to: generic white bulbs, often from California or China, treated with chemicals to preserve shelf life. (Loudon Now)

It’s a far cry from Rowe’s famed deadpan routine of stepping into the most challenging (and disgusting) working environments that started with Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” in 2003 and morphed into CNN’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” in 2014. (USA Today)

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