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I'm having trouble finding any dictionary on narrative expressions that people act out. For instance, my friend had to tell me what 'to furrow one's brows' meant. I'm  having a hard time figuring out what 'to set one's jaw' means. I can read stories and come across these and can not improve my writing unless I know what they are and use them properly.Is there a dictionary out there of expressions and what is it's name?

Hello Helen:

The only thing I could come up with in the way of idiom, which is what we're talking about here, is The Phrase
Finder at (You will have to cut and paste as this site does not support hyperlinks). That should be of considerable help to you, but remember, this is idiom of the UK. If you want to explore further, go to your search engine and type in "dictionary of words phrases idiom." You should get plenty of hits.

Some idiom consists of cliches - - and some of metaphor. Metaphor is simply speaking of one thing in terms of another (often of an emotion), i.e., "He set his jaw." The word "set" used in this context has a connotation of determination - you can almost hear it snap - along with a slight taste of anger. Another example: "They are going down for the third time on the mortgage." Going down for the third time is associated with drowning, so there's a connotation of desperation, of failure, of death.

The next time you run across one of these strange phrases, come back - we'll be here!

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 700+ questions.

And good luck with your writing!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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