Definition of phrase noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//freɪz//
    ; NAmE NAmE//freɪz//
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  1. 1   (grammar) a small group of words without a finite verb that together have a particular meaning and that typically form part of a sentence. ‘the green car’ and ‘on Friday morning’ are phrases. Synonymswordterm phrase expression idiomThese are all words for a unit of language used to express something.word a single unit of language which means something and can be spoken or written:Do not write more than 200 words. He uses a lot of long words.term (rather formal) a word or phrase used as the name of something, especially one connected with a particular type of language:technical/​legal/​scientific terms ‘Old man’ is a slang term for ‘father’.phrase a group of words which have a particular meaning when used together:Who coined the phrase ‘desktop publishing’? In grammar, a phrase is a group of words without a finite verb, especially one that forms part of a sentence: ‘the green car’ and ‘on Friday morning’ are phrases.expression a word or phrase:He tends to use a lot of slang expressions that I’ve never heard before.idiom a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words:‘Let the cat out of the bag’ is an idiom meaning to tell a secret by mistake.Patterns a word/​term for something a new word/​term/​phrase/​expression a technical/​colloquial word/​term/​phrase/​expression a slang word/​term/​phrase an idiomatic phrase/​expression to use a(n) word/​term/​phrase/​expression/​idiom to coin a(n) word/​term/​phrase/​expression a(n) word/​term/​phrase/​expression/​idiom means something see also noun phrase See related entries: Grammar
  2. 2  a group of words which have a particular meaning when used together a memorable phrase She was, in her own favourite phrase, ‘a woman without a past’. see also catchphrase
  3. 3 (music) a short series of notes that form a unit within a longer passage in a piece of music
  4. Word Originmid 16th cent. (in the sense ‘style or manner of expression’): via late Latin from Greek phrasis, from phrazein ‘declare, tell’.Extra examples ‘Start slowly’ is the key phrase for the first-time marathon runner. A current popular buzz phrase is ‘Think outside the box’. He is meticulous in his choice of words and turns of phrase. He just comes out with the same old stock phrases. Her unfortunate choice of phrase offended most of the audience. I bought a Spanish phrase book. In 1998, he trademarked the phrase ‘Freedom of Expression’. She can certainly turn a phrase. She was, in her own memorable phrase, ‘a woman without a past’. Who coined the phrase ‘desktop publishing’?Idioms
    1. 1used to introduce a well-known expression that you have changed slightly in order to be funny Tasting is believing, to coin a phrase! (= the usual phrase is ‘seeing is believing’).
    2. 2used to show that you are aware that you are using an expression that is not new Oh well, no news is good news, to coin a phrase.
    a particular way of describing something
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: phrase