Category: English in use

“A man will turn over half a library to make one book.”  (Samuel Johnson)

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tree

Branching out: tree idioms and phrases

Many countries around the world have days on which citizens, companies, and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. These are usually observed in spring – which, of course, is at different times of year depending upon hemisphere – and the last Friday of April is National Arbor Day in the US. The […]

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There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us lands away / Nor any Courses like a Page / Of prancing Poetry - Emily Dickinson

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marathon running

The language of long-distance running

I imagine it’s much the same when you join a cult. At first, you fool yourself into thinking you won’t be sucked in. You look down on all those ‘fanatics’ who have let it get the better of them, adamant that it’s something you only dabble in occasionally. Yet over time you start to change. […]

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procrastinate synonyms

5 historical synonyms for procrastinate

Delaying an important but arduous task in favour of a more pleasurable less urgent one? Surely everybody has been guilty of doing that at some point, and, as you probably know, there’s a great word for it – procrastinate. Apparently people have been procrastinating since the late 16th century, when the verb first came into […]

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false friends

Shakespeare’s false friends

False friends (‘faux amis’) are words in one language which look the same as words in another. We therefore think that their meanings are the same, and get a shock when we find they are not. Generations of French students have believed that demander means ‘demand’ (whereas it means ‘ask’) or librairie means ‘library’ (instead […]

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seen things

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twin peaks

The value of Cooper’s ‘straight talk’ in Twin Peaks

When we talk about ‘television language’ — what’s special to a particular series — we usually focus on words or catchphrases or grammatical patterns highlighted, if not invented, on the show. We’re attracted to the verbal antics of The Simpsons, the yadda yadda yadda playfulness of Seinfeld, the zippy slang of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and […]

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