They gave him the cold shoulder: Idiomatic phrases with ‘cold’.

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by Liz Walter

Last month I looked at phrases containing the word ‘hot’, and this month I am looking at the opposite: phrases containing the word ‘cold’. Whereas ‘hot’ phrases are mostly concerned either with very good things or with strong emotions, ‘cold’ phrases are usually negative. We often use them to describe fear, unfriendliness or lack of emotion. Continue reading “They gave him the cold shoulder: Idiomatic phrases with ‘cold’.”

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”

Hot under the collar? Idiomatic phrases with ‘hot’.

by Liz Walter

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Sitting in my office in Cambridge UK, with cold, windy weather outside, it is nice to think about phrases containing the word ‘hot’. There are quite a lot of them, and this post looks at some of the most useful ones.

Let’s start with the phrase in the title. If someone is hot under the collar, they are angry and look as though they might lose their temper soon. We often use the verb get or become with this phrase. Continue reading “Hot under the collar? Idiomatic phrases with ‘hot’.”

Flaring up or bubbling over? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 2.

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by Liz Walter

My last post was about phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs connected to sadness and happiness. This post will look at some other emotions.

Let’s start with anger. If someone suddenly becomes angry, we can say that they flare up. Blow up is similar and often describes an even angrier outburst. We use the preposition at if that anger is directed at a particular person: Continue reading “Flaring up or bubbling over? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 2.”

Weighed down or perking up? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 1

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by Liz Walter

Phrasal verbs are a very important part of English (even if students hate them!) and I have written several posts explaining useful ones. I realised recently that there is a surprisingly large number of phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs relating to emotions. Today I am going to concentrate on happiness and sadness. My next post will cover some other emotions, and a final post will present a selection of phrasal verbs for talking more generally about emotions. Continue reading “Weighed down or perking up? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 1”

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”

Eggs are in aisle 3: the language of supermarket shopping

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by Liz Walter

Food shopping is something that nearly all of us do, and it is the kind of basic topic that is often quite difficult in another language. This post looks at some words and phrases you might need if you go to a supermarket in an English-speaking country. Note that — as so often with everyday language —  there are lots of differences between UK and US vocabulary. Continue reading “Eggs are in aisle 3: the language of supermarket shopping”

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”

The ball’s in your court now: idioms with ‘ball’

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by Liz Walter

There are a surprising number of idioms that contain the word ‘ball’. This post looks at some of the most useful ones.

It seems appropriate to start with the idiom get/start the ball rolling, which means to do something to make an activity start or to encourage other people to do something similar to you:

I’m hoping we can all share our ideas today. Who would like to start the ball rolling? Continue reading “The ball’s in your court now: idioms with ‘ball’”