Idioms and Proverbs
My friend asks this question:
Q: Are ‘proverbs’ and ‘idioms’ the same or different? I heard “devil’s advocate” but I don’t understand what it means!
Can you please explain it to me and give me some examples? Many thanks!
A: Thank you for your question!
Proverb = a well known saying that teaches truth.
- Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
Meaning: Go to bed early and get up early to have good health.
- An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.
Meaning: Eat healthy food and you will not get sick.
Idiom = a common saying that has a figurative meaning. That means that the words used are not literal. They have a different meaning.
- “I could eat a horse“: I am so hungry I could eat a horse.
Meaning: I am VERY hungry.
- “A bull in a China shop“: He does his work like a bull in a china shop.
Meaning: Not careful. Here, ‘China shop’ means dishes and cups, not the country China. If a bull was in a dishes and cups shop, the bull would break everything!
Your Question: Devil’s advocate
“Devil’s advocate” means you will think about the negative side of the topic. Usually in English, we say “play devil’s advocate”
A: I am going to ask Rebecca to marry me!
B: Do you think she will say “yes”?
A: Of course she will!
B: Okay, but let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. What if she says “no”? (Let’s think about the negative possibilities. What if she says “no”?)
A: I will keep asking her until she says “yes”!!
Question: Is this an idiom, or a proverb?
A: Where is the train station?
B: I haven’t the foggiest.
What does “I haven’t the foggiest” mean?
Put your answer in the comments!