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How to understand the meaning of "place" in "take place" and "take the place of" ?

Why does "take place" use "place" not "the place " and “take the place of” use "the place" ? What's the difference between "place" and "the place" ?

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    You can't. Take place is an idiom, which means it's non-compositional; you can't understand it as a combination of take and place. (Although it's possible to meaningfully discuss the etymology of this idiom.) – snailboat Nov 19 '13 at 2:52
  • @snailboat Which dictionary says it is an idiom? – user48070 Nov 19 '13 at 2:57
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    "Take place" has a stand alone entry in dictionaries, for examples: the free dictionary or the wiktionary. "Take the place of" hasn't. – Laure Nov 19 '13 at 7:30
  • It seems you didn't express your question very clearly, in the title you say it is about the word "place", but when we read the question itself you are asking about the use of the definite article "the" in one case and not in the other. – Laure Nov 19 '13 at 7:41
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    @user48070 If it were compositional, it wouldn't need its own dictionary entry, because you could understand it by looking up take and place. But you can't understand it that way, so it does need its own dictionary entry. – snailboat Nov 21 '13 at 7:18
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When an event takes place it simply means that it happened or occurred. I consider this to be idiomatic because this has nothing to do with the definition of either take or place. I can't find a source that agrees, so I'd say that, at the very least, it's a phrase with only one possible meaning that's frozen in time so to speak. In other words, these words only have one application, which is unrelated to their traditional definitions.

With takes the place [of], place means stead, as in instead. It's another way of saying substitutes for, replaces, assumes the role of, or takes the role of. It's literal, with place meaning position rather than a location.

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WordReference says:

Take the place of means replacing something, serving as proxy for or substitute for. The article the here means the specific part (existing) is getting replaced.
Take place means occur, come into being, arise, and result etc.

Let's see these examples:

Auditions for American Idol to take place at .....(the event WILL take place, will occur)
I could never take the place of your man (the place of that man only).

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