Wordy Workshops / Don’t miss the boat by going overboard with idioms…

black claw hammer on brown wooden plank

If you think your business is the best thing since sliced bread, you’ll want to sing it from the rooftops. But if your web copy includes idioms a dime a dozen, does it really cut the mustard? Or will it be the last straw for readers who are being left in the dark? Yes, you’ve hot the nail on the head: today I want to bend your ear and pick your brains about idioms… 

An idiom is a saying which makes no literal sense - so a translation dictionary won’t really help - but native speakers understand its meaning through widespread conversational usage. In Britain, for example, we might say we are “walking on air” if we are so happy we could float, or we might “open a can of worms” if we broach a subject that’s likely to turn ugly and difficult (*cough* Brexit *cough*).Idioms can be a great way to connect with readers from a specific part of the world; they are often fun, lighthearted and relatable. But by using obscure idioms, you can actually exclude large numbers of non-native speakers.

Not all idioms are obvious, either! Something like “cut the mustard” in my first paragraph sticks out like a sore thumb, but what about that idiom itself? “Sticks out like a sore thumb” might seem so natural that you don’t even notice you’ve used it. And how about “the nature of the beast”, “grass roots”, or “nipping it in the bud”? Perhaps you describe yourself as “down to earth” and you go into meetings looking for the “lay of the land”, making sure nobody’s going to “sell you down the river”.

If you run an international business or want to engage customers from all over the world, it’s important to make your language accessible. That doesn’t mean losing the fun factor, but simply reducing the number of idioms you use and cutting out anything too wild and weird. Hire a professional writer with an English Language degree if you want to be totally sure that your brand voice hits the mark sounds great, while still reaching as many readers as possible.

Communication is key!

Becky Kleanthous

Freelance writer UK / writer for hire

 PS: If you’re looking to hire a marketing writer for website copy, an advert writer, magazine writer or blogger, drop me a message or check out my instant purchase page. If you want to create a strong brand voice, increase web traffic to your site, get more blog readers, create a killer sales page, or get on top search rankings and get higher up in Google, I’m your gal.