Comical and hysterical (Words that mean funny)

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by Kate Woodford

‘A day without laughter is a day wasted,’ said Charlie Chaplin, the comic actor and filmmaker. Whether or not you agree with him, you’ll almost certainly want to describe, in English, things that are funny. In this week’s post, we’ll provide you with a range of words to help you do just that. Continue reading “Comical and hysterical (Words that mean funny)”

See you on the march! (The language of protests)

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by Kate Woodford

On September 20th, four million people across the globe expressed their concern and anger about climate change by demonstrating (=gathering or walking in a public place to show their opinion). We thought this a good time to look at the language of demonstrating.

First up, the verb protest is a synonym for ‘demonstrate’: Employees are protesting against the cuts. In US English especially, ‘protest’ is often used transitively: Students protested the laws. A phrase that is frequently used, especially in newspapers, to mean ‘protest’ is take to the streets: Millions took to the streets in the largest environmental protest in history. Continue reading “See you on the march! (The language of protests)”

Sitting on the fence and turning a corner (Everyday idioms in newspapers)

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by Kate Woodford

The idioms and phrases in this week’s post are taken from a range of national newspapers that were published during the course of a weekend. We write a newspaper idioms post every couple of months in order to keep you supplied with up-to-date, commonly used English idioms.

One newspaper reports on the front page that a major British company is ‘on the brink of’ collapse. To be on the brink of or teetering on the brink of, something, (especially something bad), is to be very close to doing it. The same paper writes that the leader of a political party has ‘come under fire’ from within his own party. To come under fire is to be severely criticized. Continue reading “Sitting on the fence and turning a corner (Everyday idioms in newspapers)”

Dreary and mind-numbing: interesting ways of saying ‘boring’

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by Kate Woodford

We recently looked at different ways of saying ‘interesting’. Sadly, not everything in life is fascinating, absorbing or gripping. Now and then, something that we watch, read or in some other way experience is, well… boring. However, if you read this post, you’ll at least be able to use interesting words and phrases to say that things are boring! Continue reading “Dreary and mind-numbing: interesting ways of saying ‘boring’”

Couch potatoes and peas in a pod: more food idioms

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by Kate Woodford

Last month, we looked at idioms featuring words for sweet items of food. Changing the order in which we usually eat food, (savoury, then sweet), we’re now focusing on idioms that feature words for savoury (UK)/savory (US) food. Continue reading “Couch potatoes and peas in a pod: more food idioms”

Pieces of cake and sour grapes: food idioms

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by Kate Woodford

This week, we’re looking at English idioms that feature food and drink words. As there are lots of these idioms, we’re focusing today on idioms containing words for sweet food. Next month, we’ll publish a post on savoury (UK) or savory (US) food idioms.

Continue reading “Pieces of cake and sour grapes: food idioms”

Absorbing and thought-provoking: words meaning ‘interesting’

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by Kate Woodford

On this blog, we often look at the various English words and phrases that we use to express the same concept. This week we’re focusing on the word ‘interesting’. There are lots of synonyms (or rather, ‘near-synonyms’) for this adjective but most carry an extra meaning. In this post, I’ll try to show the differences in meaning between these near-synonyms and provide you with a range of ‘interesting’ vocabulary!

Continue reading “Absorbing and thought-provoking: words meaning ‘interesting’”

Working flat out and flagging: describing how we work

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by Kate Woodford

How was your day at work or college? Was it useful (=giving positive results)? Did you get a lot done? Perhaps you had a lot of work to do but, for some reason, found it hard to get down to it (=start working with effort). Some days, we work effectively, finding it easy to concentrate. Sadly, not all days are like this! In this post we look at the language that we use to describe good days at work and bad. Continue reading “Working flat out and flagging: describing how we work”

Evolving and disrupting: verbs meaning ‘change’

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by Kate Woodford

In a post last month, we looked at adjectives and phrases that describe change. This post will look at some of the many verbs that mean ‘change’.

A lot of ‘change’ verbs mean ‘to change slightly’, but some have additional meanings. For example, if you adapt something, you change it slightly for a different use:

Most of the vegetarian options can be adapted for vegans. Continue reading “Evolving and disrupting: verbs meaning ‘change’”

Black sheep and cans of worms: animal idioms, part 4

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By Kate Woodford

This post – the last in our popular ‘animal idioms’ series – looks at idioms featuring animals that range in size from an elephant to a worm. Most of today’s idioms have a rather negative meaning.

Let’s start with the elephant idiom. If people know that a problem exists but they find it too embarrassing or difficult to talk about, the problem may be described as the elephant in the room:

We all know that Tom will have to retire at some point, but no one mentions it – it’s the elephant in the room. Continue reading “Black sheep and cans of worms: animal idioms, part 4”