Divulging and disclosing (The language of giving information)

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by Kate Woodford

We tell each other things all the time, whether it’s our news, some important information or just interesting facts. This week we’re focusing on the language that we use to describe giving information.

Starting with a really useful phrasal verb, if you pass on a message or a piece of news that someone has told you, you tell it to someone else:

Remember to pass on my message to Ted.

No one passed the news on to me.

The verb relay means the same: He heard the announcement and immediately relayed the news to his colleagues.

Sometimes we pass on information to lots of people. The verb spread is often used for this. It frequently comes before the nouns gossip and rumour:

I hope you’re not spreading gossip, Alice!

He’d apparently been spreading rumours about her around the school.

Spread’ is also used intransitively to describe the way that information quickly becomes known by lots of people: So why does fake news spread so quickly?

The verb circulate is also used in this way: News of her retirement quickly circulated around the office.

Another verb meaning ‘to tell information to a lot of people’ is broadcast. People use it especially about information that they would prefer to be private: I’d rather my news wasn’t broadcast to the entire office!

The more formal verb disseminate is also used, but without the negative meaning: One of the organization’s aims is to disseminate information about the disease.

Other words mean ‘to give secret information’, for example reveal, divulge and (formal) disclose:

He wouldn’t reveal what was written in the letter.

When asked, she refused to divulge her salary.

They made an agreement not to disclose any details.

An informal phrasal verb with this meaning is let on. If you let on, you tell others about something secret: Please don’t let on that I told you she’s leaving!

Another phrasal verb is blurt out. If you blurt out a secret fact, you say it suddenly and without thinking, usually because you’re nervous or excited: I was supposed to be keeping it secret and then I just blurted it out!

There are two nice idioms for giving secret information. If you let the cat out of the bag or spill the beans, you tell people something that should have been secret:

I wasn’t going to tell anyone about my plans but Anita let the cat out of the bag.

So who spilled the beans about Daniel’s promotion?

Be careful what you divulge this week!

The life and soul of the party (How we behave at social events)

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by Kate Woodford

How do your friends behave at social events? Is one of them the life and soul of the party, chatting, laughing and dancing with everyone? Or perhaps you know a party pooper, someone who spoils other people’s enjoyment by refusing to join in and have fun. This week we’re looking at language that relates to spending time with other people socially. Continue reading “The life and soul of the party (How we behave at social events)”

Bad Hair Day (Words and phrases that describe hair)

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by Kate Woodford

Do you know the phrase bad hair day? It refers to a day when your hair looks unattractive but is also used for a day when everything goes wrong. This connection between bad hair and failure suggests that, for many of us, hair is very important! Accordingly, we have lots of ways to describe it. If you’d like some interesting English expressions for hair, read on! Continue reading “Bad Hair Day (Words and phrases that describe hair)”

Do help yourself! (The language of party food)

by Kate Woodford

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The Christmas season is once again here and around the world, people who celebrate this festival are going to parties and gatherings with family, friends and colleagues. One important feature of most gatherings is food so we thought we’d take a look at the language in this area.

When you are hosting (=organizing in your home) a get-together of any type, you have to make decisions about catering (=providing food). How much and what type of food will you offer your guests? You might plan a proper dinner for people. This is sometimes called a sit-down meal, meaning that it is the sort of meal that people eat while sitting at a table: a sit-down meal at a wedding A meal in someone’s house in the evening used to be called a dinner party, though this now sounds a little formal. Nowadays, most people talk about having or asking their friends round/over for dinner: I thought I’d ask Jamie and Luisa round for dinner. Continue reading “Do help yourself! (The language of party food)”

Fussy eaters and healthy appetites (Words and phrases to describe the way we eat)

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by Kate Woodford

Do you eat to live, or live to eat? If you’ve never heard this phrase before, someone who eats to live, eats only because they have to in order to carry on living. For this type of person, food is just fuel. Someone who lives to eat, on the other hand, regards food as the best part of living and is always looking forward to their next meal. I think it’s true to say that most of us fall somewhere between these two extremes! Continue reading “Fussy eaters and healthy appetites (Words and phrases to describe the way we eat)”

You look like a million dollars! (Describing appearances)

Choose what makes you happyby Kate Woodford

Describing other people’s appearances is something most of us do now and then. We might do it in order to ask who someone is: ‘Who was the very smart guy in the blue suit?’ Sometimes we describe how other people look simply because we find it interesting: ‘Sophie always looks so elegant – not a hair out of place!’ If you’d like to expand your vocabulary for describing how people look, read on! Continue reading “You look like a million dollars! (Describing appearances)”

Painstaking work and uphill battles (Words and phrases relating to effort)

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by Kate Woodford

We recently shared a post on words meaning ‘difficult’. This week we look at a related area of the language – words and phrases that we use to describe tasks and activities that require a lot of effort.

Let’s start with expressions that we use for activities that require mainly physical effort. A strenuous activity requires the body to work hard: He was advised not to do strenuous exercise for a few days. Continue reading “Painstaking work and uphill battles (Words and phrases relating to effort)”

Easier said than done! (Talking about things that are difficult)

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by Kate Woodford

I’m sure I’m not alone in sometimes wishing that things were easier. Work tasks, instructions, directions – so many things that we deal with on a daily basis can prove difficult. Read this post and the next time you find something hard, you’ll at least have an interesting set of vocabulary with which to complain!

Continue reading “Easier said than done! (Talking about things that are difficult)”

Our four-legged friends (Talking about animals)

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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!

 

 

 

On the spur of the moment (Words and phrases to describe sudden actions)

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by Kate Woodford

Much of what we do each day is planned or expected but not everything. Sometimes, for whatever reason, we suddenly do things that we are not expecting to do or have not prepared for. This week, we’re looking at the language that we use to express this.

Let’s start with a very useful adjective: spontaneous. A spontaneous action is sudden and done as a natural response to what is happening at the time: The silence was broken by spontaneous applause. / When she got up to leave, everyone applauded spontaneously. The noun from ‘spontaneous’ is spontaneity: We all need a little spontaneity in our lives.

Continue reading “On the spur of the moment (Words and phrases to describe sudden actions)”