Words with idiomatic meanings

Here is a list of words and phrases that have idiomatic meanings. You may come across these words in newspaper articles and magazines.

Panacea: This expression is used to refer to a remedy that would cure all diseases

Paraphernalia: Accessories or equipment associated with a trade or hobby. This term is also used to refer to a person’s belongings.

Quack: A quack is an incompetent or fake doctor.

Red-letter day: A red-letter day is a very special day.

Red tape: Time-consuming official processes.

Scapegoat: A scapegoat is an individual singled out for blame.

Sea change: Big, significant change

Sour grapes: This expression is used when somebody pretends not to care for something after they have discovered that they cannot achieve it.

Spinster: An unmarried woman. This term is also used to refer to a person whose occupation is spinning.

Square the circle: To square the circle is to attempt to do something impossible.

Stereotype: Fixed image or representation of something. Note that this representation may or may not actually reflect reality.

Stigma: A generally held distasteful opinion associated with something.

Sycophant: A creepy person who tries to win the favor of his superiors through flattery

Teetotaler: A person who abstains from drinking

Thunderbolt: Imaginary strike from above or a massive surprise

Tomboy: A girl who behaves or dresses like a boy

Utopia: An ideal society with the perfect social, political and legal system

Vandalism: Deliberate damage to property