How to Search for Idioms and Phrases?
February 5, 2008 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Given a word, how can I search for terms and idioms containing that word?

I'd like to find a reference, preferably a Web page, that will take a word and return common turns of phrase, compound words, and similar short constructions containing that word.

For example, if I input "news" it would give me:

* Newsboy
* Newshound
* Yesterday's news
* News to me
* Breaking news
* Slow news day

...and so forth. I know a dictionary will give me some of these, and something like a slang dictionary or quotation reference might give me more, but is there someplace for one-stop phrase shopping?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You'll get some by searching Google for "* news" or "* news *" Other words will work better than news, because of the preponderance of news websites.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:30 AM on February 5, 2008

I think there are idiom dictionaries for ESL students. Maybe you need an electronic version and a search engine. For example, The Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms.
posted by GuyZero at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2008

Wiktionary has "derived terms" at the bottom of the page; it's not comprehensive, but it's a start.
posted by pocams at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2008

Best answer: Scroll down to "Expressions: News"
posted by (alice) at 10:50 AM on February 5, 2008

You could try putting into the Google's adwords word generator. From "news" I got back:
local news
daily news
breaking news
world news
fox news
posted by shothotbot at 11:12 AM on February 5, 2008

thefreedictionary has a separate idiom search. Their regular dictionary also lists words and phrases containing the searched-for word, and if you scroll down to the bottom and look at the full browser, which shows your term in its alphabetic context, you'll often find a few more.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 1:11 PM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think there are idiom dictionaries for ESL students.

Or just about any good bilingual dictionary. I have a English-Spanish one handy, and, under news, it lists:

News, a piece of news, it's in the news, the news, to break the news to, it's news to me, no news is good news, news agency, news bulletin, news conference, news correspondent, news clipping, news item.
posted by smackfu at 1:46 PM on February 5, 2008

Oops, just noticed that any compound words are listed as distinct entries. So it also has: newsagent, newscaster, etc.
posted by smackfu at 1:47 PM on February 5, 2008

Cliché Finder might help a bit.
posted by PatoPata at 2:21 PM on February 5, 2008

At work, I use for such a search.

*news* would bring back all (common words & phrases narrow it down to a more reasonable list). They also have ways of narrowing down by meaning and other cool stuff.

google is too vast and other phrase finder sites I've tried are either cludgy or sparse.
posted by Gucky at 2:21 PM on February 5, 2008

Anyone still reading this entry?

The source you are looking for is a good thesaurus. The best known was once Roget's International Thesaurus. I have one of these now-scarce (or at least rarely-used) volumes, but, to my astonishment, there's one on-line. If you enter news, you get these synonyms:

account, advice, announcement, broadcast, bulletin, cable, cognizance, communication, communiqué, copy, data, description, disclosure, discovery, dispatch, dope, enlightenment, expose, eye-opener*, front-page news*, headlines, hearsay, intelligence, itemization, knowledge, leak, lowdown, message, narration, news flash, particularization, poop, recital, recognition, release, report, rumor, scandal, scoop*, specification, statement, story, telecast, telegram, telling, the goods*, tidings*, word* [The asterisks indicating informal or slang.]

The physical book may be more complete. It also contains, e.g.,
a nose for news
glad tidings
special delivery
common talk
talk of the town
topic of the day
"gossip made tedious by morality" [Oscar Wilde]
bush telegraph

And it also gives related verb phrases:
give a report
give an account of
bring word
give tidings of
give the good word
posted by Dave 9 at 7:02 AM on February 8, 2008

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