Landslide, like many idioms, has a literal meaning as well as a figurative meaning. 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 saying landslide, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A landslide, in political terms, is a victory that is overwhelming, a victory in which the candidate receives an overwhelming majority of the votes. Exactly what percentage of votes a candidate must receive to be considered the recipient of a landslide victory is up for debate. The literal meaning of landslide is a rapid downward trajectory of a great amount of soil and rock; the term has evolved from the British term, landslip. The expression landslide to mean an overwhelming political victory seems to have first been used in the 1850s to describe the American presidential race between John Fremont and James Buchanan.


In an interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace in Dec. 2016, Trump dismissed a question about Russian interference in the election by boasting “we had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the electoral college, I guess the final number is 306 and [Clinton] is down to a very low number.” (Forbes Magazine)

Belarus election: Lukashenko’s claim of landslide victory sparks widespread protests (The Guardian)

CNN host Jake Tapper reassured Election Night viewers that the idea of a Democratic landslide “was always a pipe dream,” but liberal pundits, some of whom work for his own network, have for months argued that Republicans were in for a repudiation of historic proportions. (The National Review)

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