Idiom understanding in adulthood: examining age-related differences.


Idioms are figurative expressions such as hold your horses, kick the bucket, and lend me a hand, which commonly occur in everyday spoken and written language. Hence, the understanding of these expressions is essential for daily communication. In this study, we examined idiom understanding in healthy adults in their 20s, 40s, 60s and 80s (n=30 per group) to determine if performance would show an age-related decline. Participants judged their own familiarity with a set of 20 idioms, explained the meaning of each, described a situation in which the idiom could be used, and selected the appropriate interpretation from a set of choices. There was no evidence of an age-related decline on any tasks. Rather, the 60s group reported greater familiarity and offered better explanations than did the 20s group. Moreover, greater familiarity with idioms was associated with better understanding in adults.

DOI: 10.3109/02699206.2013.850117

Cite this paper

@article{Hung2014IdiomUI, title={Idiom understanding in adulthood: examining age-related differences.}, author={Pei-Fang Hung and Marilyn A Nippold}, journal={Clinical linguistics & phonetics}, year={2014}, volume={28 3}, pages={208-21} }