Our four-legged friends (Talking about animals)

Paul Biris/Moment

by Kate Woodford

We share our planet with a huge number of other creatures – living beings that we categorize as animals, birds, fish or insects. This week, we’re taking a look at the language that we use to talk about these creatures.

Let’s start with the phrase in the title. Four-legged friend is a humorous expression used in British English to refer to an animal, especially a dog or a horse: This week, we publish poems on the subject of our four-legged friends. Birds, meanwhile, are sometimes referred to as ‘our feathered friends: So how can we help our feathered friends survive the cold weather?

Many other animal terms reflect their relationship with humans. For example, a pet is an animal that lives in a person’s home as a companion: Isabel wanted a pet so we bought her a cat. Pets are sometimes referred to more formally as companion animals: Over sixty percent of all UK households have one or more companion animal.

Domesticated animals have been brought under human control in order to live or work with us: domesticated animals, such as dogs and horses

Meanwhile, wild animals live independently of people, in their own natural conditions: wild horses

A stray is a pet that no longer has a home or cannot find its home. ‘Stray’ is often used adjectivally: a stray dog / I think that cat’s a stray. The adjective feral describes an animal that exists in a wild state. It is used especially for animals that were previously kept by people: feral dogs/cats

Creepy-crawly is a child’s word meaning ‘insect’. It is sometimes used negatively, suggesting a fear of insects: I’m not really a fan of creepy-crawlies. / a child’s book on creepy-crawlies

Prey refers to an animal that is hunted and killed for food by another animal: A hawk hovered in the air before swooping on its prey. A predator is an animal that hunts, kills, and eats other animals: lions, wolves, and other predators

A pest is an insect or small animal that is harmful or damages crops: common pests such as mice

The plural noun vermin is used for small animals and insects that are harmful and difficult to control in large numbers: flies, rats, cockroaches and other vermin

Sadly, a word that is heard more and more is endangered.  Endangered animals may soon not exist because there are very few now alive: Mountain gorillas are an endangered species.

Whether you’re an animal lover or not, we hope you find some useful words and expressions in this post!




19 thoughts on “Our four-legged friends (Talking about animals)

  1. Mujahed Jadallah

    That’s very interesting, Kate.

    Whether we are animal lovers or not, we should always be kind to these living beings and, not less importantly, help those in danger of extinction. And, of course, we sometimes find ourselves in a situation where we are expected to understand and use these words and expressions.

    Thank you.

  2. Maryem Salama

    I used to be an animal lover when I was growing up, and now my children are always arguing to have one :a cat, a bird or a fish. I sometimes give in for a while, but eventually I find a way to get rid of them (the animals, not my children) Unfortunately, our four legged friends cost money and time. Thank you Kate

    1. Dan diver

      Maryem Salama

      It’s called priorities. Certainly the fact is too often overlooked, the considerable time and resources needed for our pets toatal welfare.
      With two dogs as sole companions, I am fully educated to the evolutionary investments these animals have made, to enable their own survival. Of all of that investment, their total attachment to us as individuals, is the most endearing for us as humans.

  3. alex Rguez.

    Living beings are great, part of our world, we share this great planet, so should learn how to share it well. Respect for all of them is a need, I say this because sadly many of our four-legged friends not receive a good treat…nice day!

  4. Great article! Thank you for sharing these points as they have helped me understand your blog better. Your writing skills make things

    extremely clear, while I was reading the article I felt as if someone was teaching me, everything is explained very well. Kindly share

    more write-ups as these help us a lot and such articles add on to our knowledge. Thank you

  5. It is really great and useful post about terms of animal.
    Not only good vocab about animal but also encourages us to be kind to all living creatures.
    Thank so much for this post.

  6. zadzzzae1

    loved it thanks Kate oh and my name is from roblox
    and again loved it keep an doing awsome😎 job and you are totaly right

  7. Ana Paula

    HI Kate, very good your post! I have been learnt a several new words, but I didn’T understand stray’s meanning yet. Is a stray animal an animal wich it’s lost (lost its home but can be found) or an animal wich lives on streets?

  8. Kate Woodford

    Hi Ana Paula! I’m glad you’ve learnt some new words. Yes, a stray (or stray dog, etc) is an animal without a home for either reason that you give. I hope that answers your question.

  9. Simonetta

    Thank you for your helpful notes.
    I would like to ask you a favour , in particular if could explain the difference in meaning of the followig verbs( in a dedicated post?): intend ,pretend ,demand ,claim ,that have different shades of meaning. My first language is Italian and I find a bit difficult to use properly especially pretend and intend.pretend sounds to us as a false friend.
    basically they can be grouped under the concept of speaking as a sort of act of authority , but they are not so easy to handle . Thank you in advance

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