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Practice what you preach

  • Practice what you preach is an idiom. 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 practice what your preach, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    Practice what you preach is an admonishment to behave in the same manner that you expect others to behave or to do the things that you advise others to do. Someone who does not practice what he preaches is usually considered a hypocrite. The expression practice what you preach has been in use since the 1600s; the sentiment is found in the Bible. The phrase appears in the King James Version of the Bible, Matthew 23:3: “…they preach but do not practice.”

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    Example

    It all just comes back to trying to practice what you preach, failing, and trying again, and the record reflects that. (Guitar Girl Magazine)

    Practice what you preach – be a good role model and teach children about the possible dangers. (Connaught Telegraph)

    The Good Morning Britain host urged the royal to “practice what you preach” after he told the world to be “like raindrops” in order to “relieve the parched ground”. (The Sun)


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