Archive for the ‘the English language’ Category


It’s good to get away. (Phrasal verbs/Multi-word verbs relating to travel)

September 16, 2015

by Kate Woodford​
For many of us, the summer season is now ending. How did you spend it? Did you manage to get away (= go somewhere different) for a week or two? Perhaps you were too busy working or studying to take time off (= spend time away from your work/studies). This week, as you’ve probably guessed, we’re looking at phrasal verbs and other multi-word verbs that relate to travel.

Starting with making travel arrangements, if you arrange for yourself or someone else to stay at a hotel, in British English you may say that you book someone into the hotel, etc.: My sister has booked us into a really nice hotel in the main square. When you arrive at the hotel, you will check in (or check into the hotel), meaning that you give the person working there your personal details: I’d just arrived at the hotel and was checking in. Read the rest of this entry ?


In the pudding club

September 10, 2015

by Colin McIntosh​
The world of food is subject to changing fashions just as much as clothes or music. Even if we don’t cook ourselves, we watch food shows on TV, we read about it in magazines, we swap recipes with our friends on social media, and we eat it in restaurants. Above all, we learn about new types of food when we travel. Ingredients and dishes from exotic and not-so-exotic places are a never-ending source of new imports to the English language. Here are some that have been recently added to the Cambridge English Dictionary.

Edamame, a Japanese dish consisting of soybeans in their pods that have been boiled in water with salt, is considered to be a superfood and is consumed (in small quantities) by supermodels. A grain from the Andes of South America, quinoa, another superfood, supposedly provides numerous health benefits, including having a low glycaemic index and being suitable for people who are glutenintolerant. Açaí, a fruit from Brazil, is also a superfood, and a very tasty one. Read the rest of this entry ?


Queen Elizabeth ll – Britain’s longest-reigning monarch

September 9, 2015

by Kate Woodford​

At around 5:30 p.m. this afternoon (September 9th, 2015), Queen Elizabeth II will become Britain’s longest-serving British monarch. She will break the record established by her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria, (b.1819 – d. 1901), having so far reigned for an impressive 63 years and seven months. To mark the occasion, we are posting a short piece on the subject, including dictionary-linked words and phrases that we hope you will find interesting.

Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in the February of 1952, aged just 25, on the death of her father, King George VI. Her coronation at Westminster Abbey took place a year later, in June 1953, to allow an appropriate period of mourning for the King. It was the first coronation to be shown on television and was broadcast at the Queen’s insistence. It is often observed that in the years since the Queen’s coronation, the world has changed massively. Queen Elizabeth, with her husband at her side (Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), has remained the one constant. (Interestingly, Prince Philip is himself the longest-serving consort of a British monarch). Just today, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the Queen had been a “rock of stability” in an era when so much had changed, and that her reign had been the “golden thread running through three post-war generations“. Read the rest of this entry ?


Meerkat meme

September 3, 2015

by Colin McIntosh​
Meerkats are not new to popular culture (they appear in the folk tales of the San people of the Kalahari), but their arrival in the public’s consciousness, at least in the UK and the US, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Meerkats are small, sociable Southern African mammals that live in large family groups and eat insects and small reptiles. Their success with the global public is largely due to the documentary series Meerkat Manor, which was shown on TV between 2005 and 2008 and followed the lives of a group of meerkats in the Kalahari Desert. As a result of this exposure, meerkats have topped polls of the public’s favourite animals ever since. Their popularity increased further when a British-based insurance comparison website adopted them for their TV marketing campaigns. These meerkat puppets, with their friendly appearance, cute names, and Russian accents (why?) became so popular for a time that their catchphrase, “Simples!”, was on everyone’s lips. Now that their retirement from the company’s marketing campaign has been reported, the catchphrase thankfully seems likely to disappear, so there is little risk that it will need to be added to the dictionary, but meerkats have now made an appearance in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Read the rest of this entry ?


In London but at the station: prepositions for talking about travel

September 2, 2015

by Liz Walter​
Several readers have asked for information on prepositions, so I will start with a blog post that looks at an area where they are really important: travel.

The first thing to remember is that we use to (and not ‘in’) after the verb go:

We are going to London.

I went to the supermarket.

With the verb arrive, it’s a bit more complicated. We arrive in a village, town, city, country or continent, but we arrive at a building or other specific place:

They arrived in Paris this morning.

Call me when you arrive at the airport.

Do not use ‘to’ after ‘arrive’. However, we do use get to with the same meaning as ‘arrive in/at’:

We got to Germany that day.

When you get to the church, turn left. Read the rest of this entry ?


Introducing a new author and a new weekly blog post!

August 27, 2015

by Cambridge Dictionaries Online​

About words

The English language is constantly changing. You know that. But did you know that at Cambridge Dictionaries Online we keep track of the changes?

We continually add new words and new meanings to our online dictionary for learners of English. Some of them are new to English entirely (neologisms), and some are new to our dictionary because they’ve become used much more often – maybe because of political or economic events, social or technological changes, or even a story that has gone viral.

From September 3, a new weekly About Words blog post will reveal how trends and developments in areas as diverse as technology, economics, food, media, fashion, and relationships areas are reflected in the new words and meanings that we have added to the dictionary. Read the rest of this entry ?


Do you have what it takes? (Everyday idioms in newspapers)

August 26, 2015

by Kate Woodford​
As part of an occasional series on the subject of common idioms, we recently posted a blog which featured the idioms which we heard in spoken English during the course of a week. This week, we’re taking a different approach, picking out the idioms used in a range of national newspapers that were published on the same day. As with the previous post, we have only included the most frequent idioms – in other words, the sort of phrases that you are likely to hear or read nowadays.

One newspaper reports that a politician has criticized doctors as a group, claiming that they do not understand how their patients suffer when they wait a long time to be treated. Doctors, the politician complains, are ‘out of touch’.  To be out of touch is to not have the most recent information about a subject or a situation. On a different page, the same newspaper complains that a large sum of public money (330 thousand pounds) has been spent on equipment that will never be used. ‘£330k down the drain!’ reads the headline. Money down the drain (informal) is money wasted.

Another newspaper reports that a request by many people to stop a building from being destroyed has ‘fallen on deaf ears’. A request or warning that falls on deaf ears is not listened to. On the same page, the newspaper writes that the people of one country have ‘taken to the streets’. When people take to the streets, they show that they are against something by going to a public place and shouting, often while carrying signs. Elsewhere, the newspaper promises that cures for some diseases are ‘on the horizon‘, meaning that they are likely to happen soon.
Read the rest of this entry ?


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