Coin A Phrase

Meanings of “Coin A Phrase”

The phrase “coin a phrase” means to make or create a new phrase. The word “coin” here implies creation.

Origin of “Coin A Phrase”

The phrase “coin a phrase” was first used in Mr. Lucton’s Freedom, a novel by Francis Brett Young, which was published in the year 1940. In the novel, the phrase goes thus: It takes all sorts to make a world, to coin a phrase.

However, earlier, the word “phrase” was used as a “word” in The Arte of English Poesie written by George Puttenham. It was published in 1598. The phrase in this book is: “…will seeme to coigne fine wordes out of the Latin.” However, the term is now used as “coin a phrase” instead of its original usage “invent a phrase.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

To Coin Such A Phrase by Francis Duggan

To coin such a phrase it did take someone wise
To say the more you do learn the more you realize
That you are one who knows little at all
And everything you do learn your memory cannot recall
From the book of life we do learn every day
That we never stop learning does seem true to say
Though the know it all person in ways is lucky indeed
Since of any more knowledge she or he is not in need
For as long as the gift of memory we retain
The ability to learn in us does remain
Though the praises of learning many may sing
The accumulation of knowledge can be quite a humbling thing
Since the more you do learn the more you realize
That you do know so little this is not a surprise.

The has explained the search for knowledge, the importance of life, learning, and memory. He says that after a person learns things in life, he starts coining phrases, but it dawns upon him after a time that he has learned nothing and that he knows nothing. In other words, he means that knowledge makes a person humble.

Example #2

Coin the Phrase by Days N’ Daze

Coin the phrase! US interest
Civilian corpses all litter the ditches
Rotting bodies stacked a mile high
Behind electric fences
Everything is money
Everything is greed
I’d really want to help you
Gotta tell me what you need
I’m just a human
A pawn in a twisted game
Just a pawn in a twisted game!

The replacement of the indefinite article points to the “US interest,” which, according to the singer, lies in coining phrases. This is a way to make money, but the singer, though, a pawn in the game, is ready to help a human. The phrase has been used in the very first line to show its literal meaning and literal usage.

Example #3

The Girl I Left Behind by Shusaku Endo

Given the considerable time that has elapsed, it is hard for me to recall exactly what she was wearing that day when we met for the first time. I am sure that in the case of true love, one never forgets the first day, the first touch, the girl’s contented smile. But to me, that girl was no more than a passing flying. To coin a phrase popular among the yakuza, she was my ‘catch’, my ‘woman’…in short, she was a girl destined to be discarded like an empty cigarette-box caught up in the rush of the cold night air that envelops a station platform after the last train of the day has just passed through.

This passage is from the novel, which discusses the love stories of the narrator. Here, the first-person narrator states that as soon as his eyes fall upon the girl he sees first, he thinks that it is his girl, after which he thinks about a phrase in the yakuza language. He uses the phrase in its literal meaning.

Example #4

A Yorkshire Lass at the Court of Thatcher by Elizabeth Peacock

I have always admired Michael Brown’s style – probably due to his, to coin a phrase, independent approach to issues, not being wedded to the Conservative path – and independent mind that I can understand.

This short excerpt talks about the character of Michael Brown using the first-person narrator who states that Brown needs a new phrase for his description and that a new phrase is an independent approach. However, this coinage has been referred to this phrase, showing the denotative usage of the phrase.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “He is often described as having coined many phrases, but when I met him, I found him merely jumbling with the same old phrases.”

Example #2: “Matt’s English was always admired but it was his gift for coining phrases which was rather impressive. We all wished we could do that.”

Example #3: “It is impossible to coin phrases if you have no command over the English language or any other language for that matter.”

Example #4: “Luke was so heartbroken and drowning in a sorrow that he began coining new phrases like people started composing songs or writing poems.”

Example #5: “Coining phrases is an art very few have been able to master. It is not something to be taken lightly.”