Meaning and interpretation of Igbo body-parts based idioms

  • Adaobi Ngozi Okoye
  • Benjamin I. Mmadike
Keywords: Conventional knowledge, Idioms, Metaphor, Metonymy


The traditional view of idioms suggests that they are expressions with arbitrary meanings. The cognitive linguistics view however, has it that the meanings of idioms can be interpreted by some cognitive operations. This study, using Igbo idioms pertaining to body-parts, attempts to ascertain the cognitive operations that apply in Igbo idiomatic meaning interpretation. Data for the study were extracted from Igbo textbooks and analysed based on the cognitive linguistics framework. The study shows that the figurative meanings of the selected body-part idioms are generally achieved by  conventional knowledge, metaphor and metonymy. It equally reveals that conventional knowledge is a basic tool in idiomatic meaning interpretation as it can solely account for the meaning of an expression. Finally, it can be concluded that a single cognitive mechanism or a combination of two or more of such mechanisms can be employed in the figurative meaning interpretation of Igbo body-parts idioms.

Keywords: Conventional knowledge, Idioms, Metaphor, Metonymy


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2227-5452
print ISSN: 2225-8590