Definition of idiomatic in English:



  • 1Using, containing, or denoting expressions that are natural to a native speaker.

    ‘he spoke fluent, idiomatic English’
    • ‘One important component of successful language learning is the mastery of idiomatic forms of expression, including idioms, collocations, and sentence frames (collectively referred to here as formulaic sequences).’
    • ‘In the Russian culture, the colour with the biggest variety of negative connotations reflected in idiomatic expressions is black.’
    • ‘Some slipped idiomatic expressions or literary allusions into their copy in the hopes that the censor would miss the subtleties - and it often worked.’
    • ‘The idiomatic expression ‘for the birds’ is common enough to crop up in everyday conversation.’
    • ‘Romani uses many idiomatic expressions, proverbs, and sayings, often with metaphorical qualities.’
    • ‘Where do you think the idiomatic expressions ‘mind your manners’ and ‘mind your own business’ come from?’
    • ‘A common antebellum designation for the country, these United States survived in the 20th century in folksy idiomatic usage.’
    • ‘Citizens here who read The Korea Times have the opportunity to amass a wider variety of idiomatic and colloquial expressions written by foreigners from various backgrounds.’
    • ‘In addition to drawing on family stories and memories in his writing, Forbes also culls stories and phrases from African American oral tradition and frequently employs colloquial and idiomatic language in his poetry.’
    • ‘The first experiment showed greater interference between idioms with the same syntactic structure, demonstrating that idiomatic representations contain syntactic information.’
    • ‘And when we get to the difference between being in town and being on campus, or for that matter the difference between being in time and being on time, we're pretty clearly in the realm of idiomatic phrasal patterns.’
    • ‘I'll try to translate this love song with an eye on idiomatic expressions rendered at least comprehensible and maybe even give it a little poetry.’
    • ‘E-mail translation services are already available on a number of Web sites, and although their treatment of idiomatic expressions leaves something to be desired, the basic technology is in place.’
    • ‘Aside from this special interpretation of parallel modification, English seems to be deficient in easy or idiomatic ways to talk about the properties of relations as distinct from the properties of the items related.’
    • ‘More or less the same story can be told of the binding patterns in certain inalienable possessives and idiomatic constructions in English.’
    • ‘Second, more specific aspects of idiomatic meaning are provided by the’ ontological mapping’ that applies to a given idiomatic expression.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, the expressions are idiomatic in the sense that their grammaticality cannot be ‘figured out’ solely by reference to general principles.’
    • ‘There is no doubt that native speakers of a language have a feel for its nuances, are comfortable using its idiomatic expressions, and speak it fluently.’
    • ‘It's a bit too specific for an idiomatic prototype.’
    • ‘This is comparable to attempting a critical analysis of Shakespeare's Elizabethan phraseology and idiomatic expression in Chinese, while ignoring the relevance of the English language!’
    natural, native-speaker, grammatical, correct
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  • 2Appropriate to the style of art or music associated with a particular period, individual, or group.

    ‘a short Bach piece containing lots of idiomatic motifs’
    • ‘When his music is performed with conviction, vocal beauty, and idiomatic French style Faust can still provide an engrossing evening of musical theater.’
    • ‘Rather than hard driving, power pounding brilliance, the duo-pianists brought musicality and idiomatic style to a memorable performance.’
    • ‘Lippa's music, though idiomatic, is not rich in melody, depending largely on rhythm and harmony.’
    • ‘He commanded dynamic playing from the young musicians and imbued each score with idiomatic fervor and a wonderful sense of the music's ebb and flow.’
    • ‘Kenneth Slowik's direction is surefooted and idiomatic, and the recording is a treat: well natural and detailed, so you don't miss a note, and the essays in the booklet are fascinating.’
    • ‘It takes a few minutes, but Tharaud's touch and his way with the ornaments feels right, and they start to seem quite natural and idiomatic.’
    • ‘We can reproduce original instruments, authentic period acoustics, idiomatic playing styles, etc, but the rock on which the musical purists must all eventually founder is that it is impossible to reproduce original listeners.’
    • ‘And the main difference I think between freely improvised music and the musics you quoted is, that they are idiomatic and freely improvised music isn't.’
    • ‘Talich was not a showy musician, and perhaps his greatest strength, apart from his natural talent as a conductor, was his dedication to presenting idiomatic performances of music with which he had a personal relationship.’
    • ‘Both of the Evening Canticles are in his own idiomatic style, and hark back, in different ways, to ancient, time-hallowed chant.’
    • ‘Neil Bartlett is taking his leave as artistic director in great style, with his elegantly idiomatic translation of one of Molière's greatest plays, and a production that is among the very best Molière I've seen.’
    • ‘His brilliant rhythmic dexterity and idiomatic sense of Prokofiev's ‘Music of New Russia’ captured the sarcasm and biting wit of the Scherzo: Allegro marcato.’
    • ‘He has a really idiomatic rapport with the music.’
    • ‘Dacic played this music with idiomatic romanticism and true Russian soul!’
    • ‘Just to prove that the United States is a melting pot, they give idiomatic performances of this quintessentially American music!’
    • ‘Usually I feel that period instrument groups present a more idiomatic picture of Classical era music, but I doubt that the interpretations of Quintett Momento Musicale can be improved upon.’
    • ‘All three movements of approximately equal duration are flowing, expressive and full of idiomatic pianistic gestures and an individual harmonic and textural syntax within a broadly neo-classical frame.’
    • ‘But the greatest instrumental composer of the period was undoubtedly the blind organist Antonio de Cabezón, favourite of Philip II, who was one of the first composers of genuinely idiomatic keyboard music.’
    • ‘The Turin tablatures contain a similar range of music notated in new German keyboard tablature rather than staff notation, including transcriptions of motets and madrigals as well as idiomatic keyboard music.’
    • ‘Definitely a fine orchestra, Cassuto and his forces give idiomatic interpretations of Bomtempo's music, my sole reservation being a sagging of momentum in the Trio section of the 2nd Symphony's Minuetto.’


Early 18th century: from Greek idiōmatikos ‘peculiar, characteristic’, from idiōma (see idiom).