The phrase preaching to the choir is an idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase or phrasal verbs that have a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech often use descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression 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 that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, beat a dead horse, hit the nail on the head, kicked the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, 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. It is possible to memorize a list of idioms, but it may be easier to pay attention to the use of idioms in everyday speech, where peculiar imagery will tell you that the expressions should not be taken literally. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase preaching to the choir, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.
Preaching to the choir means that you are presenting your opinion or argument to a person or group of people who already agree with your opinion or argument. Preaching to the choir is a useless endeavor. The idiom preaching to the choir first appeared in the 1970s in the United States and is a variant of an older idiom, preaching to the converted, that originated in British English in the 1850s. Both idioms are expressions that address wasting one’s time arguing with people who agree with you. Related phrases are preach to the choir, preaches to the choir, preached to the choir.
“I could just as easily go to all the wildlife centers and nature centers and conservancies along the way, but a lot of it would be preaching to the choir.” (The Coastal Review)
“Talk to your friends and neighbors about these issues … what a lot of us are doing sometimes is preaching to the choir, and the choir’s already in the pew,” Koski said. (The Kenai Peninsula Clarion)
While I realize that for the most part I am preaching to the choir, hopefully some of you will take to heart this information and consider buying a real tree this year. (North County Outlook)
“I am skeptical about preaching to the choir, which is what often happens at formal conferences. ” (The Jerusalem Post)