IDIOM - defined
1. a group of words whose meaning cannot be predicted or understood from the meanings of the words in the idiom, as for example: It was raining cats and dogs.
2. linguistic usage that is natural to native speakers of a language.
3. an expression that cannot be understood from the individual meanings of the words. Quite a few idioms are language specific, and thus difficult to translate, for example: A cold day in Hell.
EXPRESSION - defined
1. The act of expressing or setting forth in words;
2. a particular word, phrase, or form of words;
3. the manner or form in which a thing is expressed in words; wording; phrasing: the act or an instance of transforming ideas into words.
SAYING - defined
1. A short well-known expression — a pithy (succinct, meaningful, concise) remark of wisdom and truth or a general advice.
Example: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
2. Any common, colloquial expression
Examples of Expressions and Sayings:
- If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
- It's better to keep your mouth shut and look stupid than open it and prove it.
- The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back into your pocket
- There' are two theories about arguing with a woman. Neither one works.
- Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction.
- Never miss a good chance to shut up.
Thank you Suade and Sudeep
In my opinion, it is not necessary for an English learner to learn the definitions of idioms, expressions and sayings (as well as maxims, adages, cliches, and proverbs).
Frankly, I would call them all expressions and not worry about the specific definitions.
The important things are that you:
1 hear/read them
2 recognize them and understand their meanings
3 use them if you feel confident that you are using them in the correct context (situations).
The Amercian (and Canadian expression/idiom) is:
Throw a monkey wrench into the works
- If you throw a monkey wrench into the works, you ensure that something fails.
- To interfere with a smoothly running operation; to upset something in progress.
- George's 50-year old wife threw a monkey wrench into his retirement plans - she announced that she was pregnant.
In 1856 a tool was invented by a man named Monk, called a Monk’s wrench. Later the name was changed to monkey wrench.
Throw a spanner in the works (British)
- If you throw a spanner in the works, you cause a problem that stops or slows progress on something that was going well.
Thank you so much for the correction and explanation!! It was interesting to know the origin of this saying that I use more than once in my first language.
I often use these useful words. But I always used one of them in another's place. After your discussion I will pay attention. Thank you RICHARD for this good discussion.