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Language tip of the week: idea

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of  language tips we look at how metaphor is used to express some common concepts in English. This week’s tip looks at metaphors used to talk about ideas:

An idea or theory is like a building or structure. Developing an idea is like building something, and destroying an idea is like destroying a building.

Their ideas were based/built on many years of practical experience.
It was a carefully constructed theory.
Your accusations are without foundation.
It proved to be a groundbreaking new idea.
It gave us a suitable frame of reference.
This helped buttress/underpin his arguments.
She completely demolished his argument.
The theory collapsed/fell apart after he produced new data.
This will help us explode widespread myths about retirement.

An idea is also like a plant. Developing an idea is like helping a plant to grow.

The idea grew in her mind until she could think of nothing else.
I had already planted the idea in their minds.
I had sown the seeds of doubt.
The idea germinated slowly in his mind.
This belief quickly took root.
These beliefs are deep-rooted.
What does this idea stem from?
She has a fertile imagination.
It was a fruitful line of research.
The work shows evidence of cross-fertilization from many disciplines.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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