A new lease on life

A new lease on life is an idiom that has been in use since the 1800s. An idiom is a 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, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, 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, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom a new lease on life, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A new lease on life is an idiom that means a chance to start over, the opportunity to renew one’s happiness, success, or attitude. Someone who has a new lease on life has a fresh start and is optimistic. The expression a new lease on life came into use in the early 1800s and is a reference to entering into a leasing contract. In the idiom’s early use, a new lease on life only pertained to a person’s health. By the second half of the 1800s, a new lease on life came to mean any new opportunity or fresh beginning. The phrase is sometimes rendered in British English as a new lease of life.


He was listed as an organ donor, and within hours, Jeff was among the four people who were granted a new lease on life thanks to Bryan’s generosity. (People Magazine)

The project itself demonstrates how our old or historical monuments can be given a new lease on life. (The Philippine Star)

“Cops,” meanwhile, got a new lease on life in 2013 when Spike TV ordered new episodes and paired them with repeats. (The Jerusalem Post)

On Friday (June 26), Raju Sarker walked out of Tan Tock Seng Hospital; a father given a new lease of life. (The Daily Star)

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