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Turn the other cheek

  • Turn the other cheek is an idiom that has been in use for thousands of years. 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 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 and popular expressions that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom turn the other cheek, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    To turn the other cheek means to not retaliate when your are wronged or injured, to not take action against someone who taunts, insults, or provokes you. Turning the other cheek is a Christian doctrine that promotes nonviolence and forgiveness. However, one may choose to turn the other cheek simply because an altercation is not worth the effort and may escalate. The expression turn the other cheek is taken from the Sermon on the Mount found in the New Testament in the Bible, in which Jesus exhorts his followers how to live. The Sermon on the Mount includes the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer. The origin of the idiom and philosophy of turn the other cheek is found in Matthew 5:39: “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Related phrases are turns the other cheek, turned the other cheek, turning the other cheek.

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    Examples

    And usually, it’s been up to him to turn the other cheek and walk away from potential confrontation. (The Globe and Mail)

    As someone who values that Jesus taught us to “turn the other cheek” I believe there are other ways we must respond, even in the face of gross injustice. (The Chattanoogan)

    In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave his followers a set of counterintuitive teachings, telling them that the meek will inherit the earth, to be glad when people persecute them, to turn the other cheek and, most importantly, to love their enemies. (The Huffington Post)


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