Ask the Mountie

What is the name for a term such as 'take a mulligan'

Dear Mountie

What is the name for a term such as ‘take a mulligan’ or any other term such as ‘Oh I’ve done a Clinton on that one’ etc..

Weapon X

Dear Weapon X

The term you are looking for is “idiom”.

From the OED:

A form of expression, grammatical construction, phrase, etc., peculiar to a language; a peculiarity of phraseology approved by the usage of a language, and often having a signification other than its grammatical or logical one.

A current favorite is “screwed the pooch.”

The Librarian says:

The ones you mention, which often have regional or a local historical origins, or have been taken from obsolete technology (“mind your ps and qs” - from letterpress printing), are still idioms, but I’m not sure if there’s a more specific term for them if they’re rooted in a historical reality.

Yours Truly

Mr Mountie

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