Deaf ears and high horses: everyday idioms in newspapers

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

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by Kate Woodford

Today we’re looking at idioms and expressions from a range of national newspapers that were published on the same day. We do this every couple of months as a way of supplying you with up-to-date, frequently used idioms.

One newspaper describes the UK Prime Minister’s plans for leaving the EU as ‘a leap of faith’. Leap of faith refers to the act of believing in something when you have no real reason to believe that it is true or will happen.

In the news pages of a different paper, a journalist remarks that the Prime Minister’s advice to members of her own party will ‘fall on deaf ears’. If a suggestion or warningfalls on deaf ears, no one listens to it.

Another tabloid is confident that the plans for Brexit will succeed and says it will be ‘full steam ahead’ for the UK…

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Hangry and bromance (Blend or portmanteau words)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

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by Kate Woodford

Our Cambridge Dictionary Facebook page recently featured a post on portmanteau words or blends. These are words formed by combining two other words, such as Brexit (short for ‘British exit’) and brunch (a combination of ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).

Some blends have existed for a long time. ‘Brunch’, for instance, originated as long ago as the late 19th century. Others were invented more recently. (Although it sometimes seems as if the word ‘Brexit’ has existed forever, it was actually invented as recently as 2012!) Here we look at relatively recent blends in the English language.

Let’s start with food and eating. The blend flexitarian (=flexible + vegetarian) reflects a recent trend away from meat eating. It refers to a person who eats mainly vegetarian food and only now and then eats meat: On page 5, ten health benefits of a flexitarian diet.

The word mocktail

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Library or bookshop? Fabric or factory? Avoiding common false friends

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter

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Sometimes words look the same or similar in two different languages but have different meanings. We call these words ‘false friends’ because they seem as though they will be ‘friendly’ and easy to learn, but they trick us into making mistakes. In this post, I will discuss a few false friends with English: I have tried to pick ones that are problematic for speakers of several other languages.

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It makes my blood boil! (The language of anger)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

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by Kate Woodford

Anger solves nothing, or so they say. Whether or not this is true, we all feel angry now and then. You probably already know the angry synonyms annoyed and irritated, but perhaps you’d like a more interesting range of expressions to describe this feeling? If so, read on!

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Divulging and disclosing (The language of giving information)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

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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 andrumour:

I hope you’re not spreading gossip, Alice!

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

Spread’ is also used…

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Do help yourself! (The language of party food)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

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-downmeal 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…

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You look a million dollars! (Describing appearances)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

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!

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