There’s an interesting site devoted to English Language & Usage…
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It’s 100% free, no registration required.
I came across the site while researching the idiom “in and of itself”. Did I know it was an idiom? Absolutely not. Forcing me to look that up too. Definition: a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., rain cats and dogs, see the light ).
OK, that makes sense… there’s even a site devoted to idioms.
The site I mentioned in opening, goes on to ask the following question; What is the reasoning for the idiom “in and of itself” having the meaning it has?
I love this answer since it incorporates the idiom itself…
“In and of itself” is a phrase I find myself using all the time. But in and of itself, the phrase “in and of itself” has no meaning. That is, the individual words don’t seem to contribute to the whole meaning of the phrase.
I never really thought about it before but the whole idea of idioms is kind of intriguing. I mean, we’ve all used It’s raining cats and dogs. We all know exactly what it means but do you know the origin? I didn’t…
The most common one says that in olden times, homes had thatched roofs in which domestic animals such as cats and dogs would like to hide. In heavy rain, the animals would either be washed out of the thatch, or rapidly abandon it for better shelter, so it would seem to be raining cats and dogs.
So back to the whole point of this post, the idiom In and Of Itself. I heard it used while watching a movie a couple days ago. The challenge is for me to use it in a sentence today. It might come across as sounding elitist or maybe just weird but I can’t wait to see their reaction. Will it be awe or awful?
Note: I made the graphic for this post in Photoshop. Doesn’t look like much, in and of itself, but if you click on it, then zoom it, you’ll see some cool effects.