Binomial Expressions Using Synonyms

Binomial Expressions Using Synonyms

Binomial expressions are when two words are held together, normally by a conjunction. It’s a chunk of language. The order of the words is usually fixed – if you swap them around it sounds wrong to the ear of a native English speaker. This is part two of a series about binomial expressions used in English (Part 1 – using antonyms – can be found here).

There are a few different types of these expressions, but today we are going to look at those that use synonyms. There is a conjunction between words with similar meanings.

BITS AND PIECES

This describes a collection of small, scattered items.

Example
She searched through the bits and pieces in her handbag but couldn’t find a pen.

Or it can also relate to a collection of ideas or memories.

Example
I can only remember bits and pieces of my childhood.

PEACE AND QUIET

This is about freedom from stress or interruptions. Calm. Tranquillity. *Sigh*

I think all parents long for a bit of peace and quiet!

NEAT AND TIDY

When everything is in its place and clean. You can also say clean and tidy.

Example
My son keeps his bedroom neat and tidy, but my daughter’s room is always a mess!

NOOK AND CRANNY

This describes every possible place or every possible part of something, right down to the smallest ones.

Example
The police have searched every nook and cranny of this city, but still can’t find the fugitive.

FIRST AND FOREMOST

We use this to emphasise the importance of something, it is the primary thing before everything else.

Example
First and foremost, our priority is reducing crime in this city.

PLAIN AND SIMPLE

We use this to emphasise that something is exactly what it says it is. There is no exaggeration or elaboration.

Example
Video piracy is stealing, plain and simple.

PICK AND CHOOSE

To pick and choose is to select the best options from a number of different sources.

Example
You can’t just pick and choose which laws you want to obey!
These days there are so many YouTube videos that people can just pick and choose.

LEAPS AND BOUNDS

If something progresses in leaps and bounds, it does so to a very large degree, and often very quickly.

Example
Johnny’s career has taken off in leaps and bounds since he became a celebrity chef.

Related Words

I’m sneaking in another category here. It’s not an official one, but I think it’s worth putting these expressions into a little class of their own. I’m going to call them descriptive. These are words that are not actually synonyms but are related in some way, they give a more complete picture than with synonyms alone.

FAR AND WIDE

Far and wide simply means everywhere, in every direction. Remember Johnny, the celebrity chef? Well, we could say…

His fame spread far and wide.

SKIN AND BONES

If someone or something is said to be skin and bones, they are unnaturally thin, in an unhealthy way.

Example
The poor dog was just skin and bones when the RSPCA rescued it from neglectful owners.

SALT AND PEPPER

I know that you know, that salt and pepper are condiments! BUT if you use it to describe someone’s hair, it means that the person has dark hair with streaks of grey or silver. Because it is an adjective, there should be hyphens between each word.

Example
He was a small man with salt-and-pepper hair, a deeply lined face, and brown eyes.

LOUD AND CLEAR

If something is loud and clear, then it is very easy to understand.

Example
The management sent a message to the staff that was loud and clear. Be punctual or be unemployed!
(Being punctual is arriving on time)

People might say this to show they have understood a threat or when they have been given a tongue-lashing.

Example
Get out or I’ll throw you out. Understand?
Loud and clear!

SICK AND TIRED

You might say that you are sick and tired of something, if you are bored with it, or if you are very frustrated and annoyed.

Example
The children are sick and tired of boring maths lessons.
I am sick and tired of having to clean up after my children!

HEAD AND SHOULDERS

If someone is head and shoulders above others, it doesn’t mean that they are taller. It means that they are by far better than others in some way. Note that it is usually followed by above.

Example
If you train harder and longer than everybody else, you’ll be head and shoulders above your competitors.

SHORT AND SWEET

And hopefully, the video you watched was short and sweet – so it didn’t take a long time, pleasantly brief!

Example
The bride’s father gave a speech that was short and sweet!

As always, questions and comments can be left under the video on YouTube.

Until next time!

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