A foil wrapped heart on a pink background with lots of hearts.

A heart of gold or a heart of stone? (‘Heart’ senses and phrases, Part 1)

A foil wrapped heart on a pink background with lots of hearts.
Jennifer A Smith/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

The word ‘heart’ is used a tremendous lot in English. As you might imagine, it’s often used to say things about love and emotions, but it has other less predictable meanings too. In this three-part post, I’ll look at the way we use this word, focusing on its various senses and a range of ‘heart’ idioms and phrases. As ever, I’ll present language that is current and useful. Continue reading “A heart of gold or a heart of stone? (‘Heart’ senses and phrases, Part 1)”

close-up image of a man in business clothes fastening his belt

Tightening your belt and wearing the trousers (Clothes idioms, Part 2)

close-up image of a man in business clothes fastening his belt
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by Kate Woodford

In Part 1 of this post, we looked at English idioms containing words for items of clothing that cover the top half of the body. This week, we’re working our way down the body with idioms that include words such as ‘belt’, ‘trousers’ and ‘shoe’. (Footwear features in a surprising number of current idioms!) Continue reading “Tightening your belt and wearing the trousers (Clothes idioms, Part 2)”

young man raising his straw hat and smiling at the camera

I take my hat off to you! (Clothes idioms, Part 1)

young man raising his straw hat and smiling at the cameraby Kate Woodford

English has a number of really useful, current idioms and phrases that feature items of clothes. This week we’ll start by looking at idioms with the word ‘hat’ and we’ll work our way down the body to ‘shirt’ idioms. In Part 2, we’ll consider idioms containing words for clothes that cover the bottom half of the body. Continue reading “I take my hat off to you! (Clothes idioms, Part 1)”

a trowel used to dig up gold coins from a hole in the ground

Digging up and getting wind of information (Finding information words and phrases)

a trowel used to dig up gold coins from a hole in the ground
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by Kate Woodford

I recently published a post on this blog about the language of looking for information (Probing and digging around). This related post looks at words and phrases that we use to talk about finding and getting information. Continue reading “Digging up and getting wind of information (Finding information words and phrases)”

a black dog digging a hole on a sandy beach

Probing and digging around (Searching for information)

a black dog digging a hole on a sandy beach
STasker/DigitalVision/GetttyImages

by Kate Woodford

I recently heard someone say that they had left no stone unturned in their search for information, meaning that they had done everything they possibly could to find it. I started thinking about the concept of trying to find out facts and the various words and phrases that we use to convey it. This post is the result of these musings. Continue reading “Probing and digging around (Searching for information)”

a man reading a newspaper

Clearing the air and chopping and changing (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)

a man reading a newspaper
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

The idioms and phrases in today’s post were taken from a selection of national newspapers published on the same day. I write a newspaper idioms post like this every few months in order to provide you with a regular supply of common, contemporary English idioms. Continue reading “Clearing the air and chopping and changing (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)”

a white sheep bleating as it looks at the camera

Grunting, lowing and bleating (Animal sounds, Part B)

a white sheep bleating as it looks at the camera
Marcel ter Bekke/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

In Part A of this blog (Howling, mewing and snorting), we looked at words for the various sounds made by dogs, cats and horses. This week we’re widening our scope and considering words for the sounds made by farm animals and wild animals. Continue reading “Grunting, lowing and bleating (Animal sounds, Part B)”

a Bernese Mountain Dog barking

Howling, mewing and snorting (Animal sounds, Part A)

a Bernese Mountain Dog barking
Jill Lehmann Photography/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

A reader of this blog recently requested a post on animal sounds. When I looked into the subject, I was struck by the huge range of very specific words in the English language for the various noises that animals and birds make. Accordingly, this is a post in two parts, A and B. Here, in Part A, we start by considering words for the different noises that dogs make. Continue reading “Howling, mewing and snorting (Animal sounds, Part A)”

close-up of a woman's smiling mouth, showing her teeth

Gritting and cutting your teeth (Idioms and phrases with ‘teeth’)

close-up of a woman's smiling mouth, showing her teeth
ultramarinfoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

It might surprise you to learn that the noun ‘teeth’ features in a number of current English idioms. This post is a round-up of the most frequent and useful. Continue reading “Gritting and cutting your teeth (Idioms and phrases with ‘teeth’)”

skyline of city buildings lit up at sunset

A vast, sprawling metropolis (Words for describing cities)

skyline of city buildings lit up at sunset
Gary Yeowell/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

It’s reckoned that around 55% of the world’s population now lives in towns and cities. With this in mind, I thought we’d take a look at the sort of words we use to describe urban and suburban areas. I hope you find it useful. Continue reading “A vast, sprawling metropolis (Words for describing cities)”