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Idiomatization (also demotivation , lexicalization ) describes the course of the semantic change of an originally complex linguistic expression in such a way that its meaning can no longer be determined on the basis of its partial meanings (cf. Frege principle ) .

Airplane , blue , moment and rule of thumb are idiomatized linguistic expressions like this, in contrast to motivated formations such as wooden door , the meaning of which can be analyzed as a door, more precisely a door made of wood (see also: composition , word formation ).

In the case of syntactically complex constructions, one speaks of phraseologism (e.g. tying someone up with a bear ).

Idiomatization creates the need to lexicalize complex expressions, that is, to include an overall meaning in the mental lexicon , and not to interpret it on the basis of the individual meanings of the parts, as is the case with motivated formations. Thus, in a stricter distinction, lexicalization describes the process of inclusion in this lexicon, while idiomatization denotes the process of losing semantic motivation in the formation of the complex expression.

The process of idiomatization can be viewed as a gradual phenomenon, that is, the change takes place in stages (e.g. during vacation time, tea time, meal, wedding ) and is usually understood as a diachronic process.

See also


  • Helmut Glück (Ed.): Metzler Lexicon Language . 4th edition. Metzler, Stuttgart and Weimar 2010, ISBN 3-476-02335-4 .
  • Theodor Lewandowski: Linguistic Dictionary . 4th, revised edition. Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg 1985, ISBN 3-494-02050-7 (keyword: “idiomaticity”).