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”

When disaster strikes: ways of describing bad events

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by Liz Walter

First, apologies for the gloomy subject! However, we can’t read the news without being aware of terrible things that happen in the world, and there is a rich selection of vocabulary to describe them, including some nice collocations. Continue reading “When disaster strikes: ways of describing bad events”

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)”

Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2019

Our Word of the Year 2019 is . . . upcycling.

This word was chosen based on the Word of the Day that resonated most strongly with fans on the Cambridge Dictionary Instagram account, @CambridgeWords. The word upcycling – defined as the activity of making new furniture, objects, etc. out of old or used things or waste material – received more likes than any other Word of the Day (it was shared on 4 July 2019). Continue reading “Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2019”

Freaking out or shrugging it off? Phrasal verbs to express emotions (3)

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by Liz Walter

My last two posts looked at phrasal verbs to describe a range of specific emotions, so I thought it would be nice to round the topic off by covering some phrasal verbs for talking about emotions in a more general way.

If someone shows a very strong negative emotion such as fear or anger, we can say informally that they freak out.

He freaked out when he saw the size of the waves Continue reading “Freaking out or shrugging it off? Phrasal verbs to express emotions (3)”

New words – 28 October 2019

Marco Bottigelli / Moment / Getty

undertourism noun [U]
UK /ˌʌn.də.ˈtʊə.rɪ.zəm/ US /ˌʌn.dɚ.ˈtʊr.ɪ.zəm/
the situation when a city or other holiday destination does not receive many tourists or enough tourists

But a new phenomenon is developing. “Undertourism” is the increasingly common marketing tactic being used by less-frequented destinations. Come here, they say, because we’re not as rammed as the neighbours. Visit us, and you won’t have to queue for your Instagram likes.
[www.nationalgeographic.co.uk, 12 August 2019]

DNA trip noun [C]
/ˌdiː.enˈeɪ.trɪp/
a holiday taken by someone who has taken a DNA test to trace their ancestry, to a destination where their ancestors came from, according to that test

But to really dive into your DIY DNA trip, you will want a full-featured travel web site. Travel sites started out more than 20 years ago as search engines for the cheapest airline tickets or bargain hotel rooms. Thankfully for the DNA traveler, things have come a long way since those days.
[www.bestonlinereviews.com, 27 March 2019]

begpacker noun [C]
UK /ˈbeg.pæk.əʳ/ US /ˈbeg.pæk.ɚ/
someone who goes on holiday and begs for money from local people

Authorities in Thailand, Indonesia, and other countries are cracking down on “begpackers”: usually young Westerners who ask locals for money to help fund their journeys. Some of the travelers sell photographs or perform songs on sidewalks, while others simply ask for quick handouts… The locals to who give begpackers money are often poorer than the travelers.
[www.businessinsider.com, 25 July 2019]

About new words

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)”

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.”

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

newspapers.jpg
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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)”

He’s pulling your leg! Idioms with ‘pull’.

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by Liz Walter

There are a surprising number of commonly used idioms that contain the verb ‘pull’. This post will look at some of the most useful ones.

Let’s start with the idiom in the title. If you accuse someone of pulling your leg, you mean that you believe they are teasing you by saying something that isn’t true. If we think that someone is teasing us in that way, we might say Pull the other leg/one!’, or even the longer version Pull the other one – it’s got bells on!. This shows that we don’t believe them. Continue reading “He’s pulling your leg! Idioms with ‘pull’.”