Easier said than done

Easier said than done has been in use for over five hundred years. 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, 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, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom easier said than done, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Easier said than done means that something that seems effortless to do is in fact, difficult to execute. For instance, exterminating a wasp nest is easier said than done. Easier said than done is a phrase used when discussing a difficult situation, to complain about the energy one must expend or to criticize a plan that someone else puts forth. The expression easier said than done came into use in the 1400s and is first found in Terentius Afer’s book, Vulgaria Terentii, written in 1483: “It is easyer to saye than to do.”


British Columbia’s recent experience with teacher hiring tells us why adding teachers to reduce class sizes significantly is easier said than done, and is probably not a workable option even with some very radical teacher assignment policies. (The Vancouver Sun)

‘Contactless’ Is Retail’s New Must-Have Safe Word, But Executing It Is Easier Said Than Done (Forbes Magazine)

But for many states, contact tracing during the coronavirus pandemic has been easier said than done. (The Miami Herald)

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