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Like clockwork and as regular as clockwork

  • Like clockwork and as regular as clockwork are different renditions of the same idiom. 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, 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 have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beat around the bush, ballpark figure, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, close but no cigar, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, a dime a dozen, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. 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. We will examine the meaning of the expressions like clockwork and as regular as clockwork, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.


     

    Like clockwork and as regular as clockwork describe something that happens over and over again in a predictable pattern, something that you may depend upon to happen, something that is precise or occurs exactly as expected. Like clockwork is a simile that is sometimes used when describing the execution of a plan in a perfect fashion, without any unforeseen problems. As regular as clockwork is a simile that is sometimes used when describing something predictable and dependable. However, the two phrases are fairly interchangeable. A simile is a phrase used in a sentence that is a comparison of one thing with something else using the word like or the word as. A simile may compare two things with qualities that do not seem related, though there must be some similarity that is either literal or figurative. The word clockwork to mean the inner workings of a mechanism came into use with the invention of mechanical clocks. The idioms like clockwork and as regular as clockwork came into use in the mid-1700s.

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    Examples


    In the end, like clockwork, Benjamin Netanyahu comes on stage to tumultuous cheers, flush with victory and driven by revenge, and kisses his wife Sara. (Haaretz)

    Since her eponymous debut album was released in 2006, Swift has released a new album almost every two years, pretty much like clockwork. (The Observer)

    He has famously become interchangeable with Mateo Kovacic – the 60–minute Sarri switcheroo as regular as clockwork – and the style the Chelsea manager insists upon appears to limit what Barkley does best. (The Daily Mail)


    As regular as clockwork, the early summer launch of the next OnePlus handset approaches. (Forbes Magazine)


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