Could you think of any synonym phrase or words, so that they would be synonym with the following?

That idiot of a doctor

The real palace of a house

Thanks in advance

  • 1
    The sentences are not quite alike. You might really think "The doctor is an Idiot" (literally). But you are probably being figurative about the castle, even if you say "real". This type of exaggeration is known as hyperbole. So saying "that house is a real castle" isn't quite the same. (oh, by the way, it would be "A real castle of a house", not "The....") Jan 31, 2015 at 15:13
  • A real X of a Y ("It's a real palace of a house") sounds idiomatic to my ear, as does the X of a Y ("The monstrosity of a house stands on the hill") or that X of a Y ("That idiot of a doctor knows nothing") but not the real X of a Y.
    – stangdon
    Jan 31, 2015 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


Since the original poster asked the usage of of, the right answer is that it is used in apposition with of-phrase.

  • the fool of a policeman
  • an angel of a girl
  • this jewel of an island

This structure consisting of determiner + noun (N2) + of + indefinite article + noun (N1) is not a regular prepositional post-modification, since N1 is normally head, as can be seen in the paraphrases.

  • The policeman is a fool.
  • The girl is an angel.
  • This island is a jewel.

The whole part N2 + of + a corresponds to an adjective:

  • the foolish policeman
  • an angelic girl
  • this jewel-like island

source: A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language

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