It is obvious that, in English, the phrasal verb "get up" (meaning to awake and move out of bed) and the idiom "raining cats and dogs" (meaning rain strongly) have different depths of idiomaticity. By that, I mean that the meaning of "get up" bears a different relationship to the normal meaning of its constituent parts than the idiom "rain cats and dogs". Why is that (something historical or intrinsic to the phrase?), how did it arise, etc?

My question is what theories of idioms address this kind of difference among idioms. Thanks.

  • Is idiomaticity a single dimension, or multiple? What are the units? What metaphors are you using to define (let alone measure) a completely abstract concept like that? Your use of "depth" suggests a Container metaphor with fluid contents under the force of gravity (so that "down" has a meaning). What's in the bucket? Or is it a lake?
    – jlawler
    Jun 22, 2018 at 20:00
  • 1
    Here's a paper that attempts to systematize a little. Personally I would not call "get up" an idiom, which for me must have a meaning not transparently derivable from its parts. Jun 23, 2018 at 14:15


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