Idiot and idiom are easily confused words.
The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.
Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.
Idiot (pronounced “iddy-uht”) is a noun. It is an insult meaning a stupid or foolish person.
Idiom (pronounced “iddy-uhm”) is a noun. It is a common phrase that is not meant to be taken literally, but often describes an emotional condition or other unseen thing.
- On pins and needles: a person is on edge, very nervous. A person might feel this way waiting to get accepted to college, waiting to get hired for a job, waiting to get approved for a loan.
- See the light: a person has just realized something important or clarifying about their current circumstances. This implies that they had been wrong or deluded prior to this moment.
- Check out more idiom meanings here.
- Other languages also have idioms, some were explored in the book “I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears,” released in 2009.
- TRIVIA: Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy did not understand phrases that could not be taken literally, like metaphors, similes, and idioms.
The following story uses both words correctly:
Twins Idi and Idal couldn’t be more different. Idal was a talented athlete, while Idi was a reader and more of a “mathlete.”
“You’re late for dinner!” his mother said.
“Man, practice ran late and I still have a paper to write for a book I’ve only half-read. I am going to have to burn the midnight oil to get it done.”
“What does oil have to do with anything? Why do you talk in such illogical phrases?”
It’s just an saying, Idi; it’s just an idiom.”
“You sound like an idiot.”
“I know what you said, I’m just saying its foolish. Just say what you mean.”
Their mother chided them both, “Idi, please stop giving your brother a hard time. And Idal, I am disappointed in you procrastinating on your schoolwork. That’s not a good habit to have.”
“Yeah, you’re really throwing me off schedule, Idal. We’re supposed to eat at 6:30. It’s now 7:30 and we’re just now eating.”
“Idi, give it a rest.”