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As for your last question, please read this question and answer first: Can kanji compounds be formed arbitrarily? This question is about two-kanji compounds (熟語 in the narrow sense), but the answer there is basically true for many cases involving four kanji or more. In fact, most of the "四字熟語" you encounter, like 火力発電 or 愛国精神, are established set phrases, ...


What makes something 四字熟語 is not very easy to define. What you are talking really comes down to a concept known as idiomaticity in Linguistics. Having that said, 四字熟語 are generally words used as idioms (i.e. 慣用句). A 慣用句 is an expression that often utilizes more than one unrelated words to mean something completely different. For example, 画竜点睛 means ...

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