Beds of roses and sore thumbs (Newspaper idioms)

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by Kate Woodford

Readers of this blog often ask us for posts on English idioms. Understandably, they also tell us that it’s important that the idioms are used now. One way that we make sure we focus on up to date idioms is by looking at expressions used in current newspapers. The expressions in this week’s post are taken from a range of national newspapers that were published on February 5th, 2020. Continue reading “Beds of roses and sore thumbs (Newspaper idioms)”

Outlooks and forecasts (The language of predictions)

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by Kate Woodford

It’s February – still more or less the start of the year – and you may still be thinking about the months ahead and predicting what’s likely to happen. With this in mind, we’re looking today at the words and phrases that we use to say what we think will – or might – happen in the future. Continue reading “Outlooks and forecasts (The language of predictions)”

Donating and allocating (Verbs that mean ‘give’)

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by Kate Woodford

This is the second part of a two-part blog post focusing on words meaning ‘give’. The first post looked at phrasal verbs with this meaning. Here, we look at single words in this area. Continue reading “Donating and allocating (Verbs that mean ‘give’)”

Give yourself a pat on the back! (The language of praising)

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by Kate Woodford

I thought our About Words readers might enjoy a positive post this week, so today I’m focusing on the language of praise – saying nice, positive things about someone or something. We’re looking at single words and phrases and, as ever, focusing on the sort of language that is in use now. Continue reading “Give yourself a pat on the back! (The language of praising)”

Christmas phrases

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by Kate Woodford

It’s Christmas! At Cambridge Dictionary, we like to get into the Christmas spirit so today, we’re bringing you festive phrases with a round-up of idioms that contain a word that we often associate with Christmas. Continue reading “Christmas phrases”

Handing down and passing on (Phrasal verbs that mean ‘give’)

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by Kate Woodford

It’s sometimes said that it’s better to give than to receive. Whether or not you like the act of giving, we hope you’ll enjoy reading about all the different ways to talk about giving. As you might imagine, there are a great number of synonyms and near-synonyms for ‘give’, so this is the first of two posts. Here, we’ll look at the many ‘give’ phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs and their specific meanings. Continue reading “Handing down and passing on (Phrasal verbs that mean ‘give’)”

Learning Synonyms

by Kate Woodford

Many of our About Words blog posts aim to provide our readers with a range of interesting words and phrases for saying the same or a similar thing.  We’re talking, of course, about synonyms – or near-synonyms. This week, we’re still focusing on this approach to vocabulary expansion but we’re looking at the way that Cambridge Dictionary +Plus can help with the process. Continue reading “Learning Synonyms”

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)”