Words Starting with A in English
Here's a list of more than 430 "A Words": words beginning with the letter "A". Check you know the A Words at each level before you go on to the A Words at the next level.
A Words at Elementary level
a/an = (grammatical) indefinite article
"There's a plant on the table."
able = when you can do something
"Is your baby able to sit up?"
(noun = "ability")
about = (grammatical) preposition
"He's about five years old."
above = at a higher point
"The people in the flat above us are very noisy."
absolutely = when you completely agree
"I absolutely agree with you!"
accommodation = a place to stay / live
"We need some accommodation when we go to London."
across = on the other side
"They live across the road from us."
act = when you are in a film or play
"She acts really well!"
(person = "actor")
action = something that you do
"We need to take action – not just talk about the problem!
active = when you do lots of things
"Her parents are old, but they're still active."
activity = something you do
"There are lots of activities for children at the summer camp."
add = to count numbers
"If you add these two numbers, what do you get?"
= to make a bigger amount
"Add the sugar and the flour…"
(noun = "addition")
in addition = added to this, another thing
"In addition to the sofa, he also bought a table and chairs."
address = where you live
"What's her address?"
adjective = (grammatical) word that describes a noun
"The word 'red' is an adjective."
adore = love
"She adores chocolate."
adult = over the age of 18
"Her children are all adults now."
adventure = an exciting time or event
"Her holiday in Australia was a real adventure!"
aeroplane = carries passengers by air (also "airplane")
"Do you like going by aeroplane?"
afraid = when you are scared
"Is she afraid of spiders?"
after = the next thing
"After I got home, I had dinner."
afternoon = the part of the day after the morning
"Do you work in the afternoons?"
again = another time
"Tell me that story again!"
against = opposing
"They voted against the idea."
age = how old you are
"She's tall for her age."
ago = (grammatical) how long before something happened
"She left school five years ago."
agree = think the same as another person
"I agree with you. You're right!"
air = what you breathe
"The air above the city is polluted."
airport = where you go to take the aeroplane
"Which airport is closer to your house?"
alive = not dead
"Is your grandmother still alive?"
all = everyone / everything
"All the people agreed with him."
almost = nearly
"It's almost 8 o'clock! Hurry up!"
alone = not with other people
"She likes being alone when she's on holiday."
alphabet = the letters we use to write
"How many letters of the alphabet are there?"
already = when something happens before now
"I've already finished my homework. Can I go out now?"
alright = OK
"Are you alright? Can I help?"
always = all the time
"I always eat yoghurt for breakfast."
amazing = fantastic
"The holiday was amazing. We had a great time!"
ambulance = a special van that takes ill and injured people to hospital
"Quick! Call an ambulance!"
amount = the quantity or number
"£500,000 is a huge amount of money!"
amusing = funny
"He's always amusing when he speaks."
(noun = "amusement" – something to make you happy; "amusement arcade" – a place where you can play fruit machines)
and = a word to say another thing
"I like fruit and vegetables."
animal = living thing (not human)
"I don't like seeing animals in the zoo."
answer = what you reply to a question
"Does anyone know the answer?"
angry = when you are not pleased about something
"When he failed his exam, his father was very angry."
any = (grammatical) for indefinite quantities
"Is there any coffee left?"
(Also "anyone", "anybody", "anything", "anywhere")
apple = a fruit, usually green
"Eat an apple every day. It's good for you!"
April = the fourth month of the year
"It often rains in April."
area = a region or part of a country / the world, etc
"Which area do you live in?"
"He works in the area of healthcare."
argue = when you don't agree and get angry with a person
"Her parents argue all the time. She's a bit worried."
(noun = "argument")
arm = part of your body that connects to your hand
"He broke his arm when he fell off the horse."
armchair = a comfortable chair with arms
"In their living room they have a sofa and two armchairs."
army = the soldiers of a country
"He wants to be a soldier in the army."
around = (grammatical) preposition
"Can I look around your house?"
arrive = get to a place
"What time does your flight arrive?"
(noun = "arrival")
art = creative work, such as painting, sculpture, etc
"My favourite subject at school is Art."
(person = "artist")
article = something that you read in a newspaper or magazine
"Have you seen this article about Italy?"
as = (grammatical) comparison / preposition
"Her son is as tall as her."
"As you know, the company is facing problems."
ask = make a question
"Can I ask you something?"
asleep = when you aren't awake (ie during the night)
"I didn't hear the storm because I was asleep."
at = (grammatical) preposition
"I have to leave my house at 7 am."
attend = go to
"She attends an exclusive high school."
(noun = "attendance" – "official presence")
attendant = a person who helps
"The flight attendant gave the children a sweet."
attention = when you listen or watch carefully
"Can I have your attention please!"
August = the eighth month of the year
"They always go on holiday in August."
aunt = the sister of your mother or father
"Where does your aunt live?"
autumn = the season after summer ("Fall" in American English)
"I love autumn when the leaves turn red."
awake = when you aren't asleep
"I'm always awake at 7 am."
away = in another place
"Please go away!"
A Words at Pre-intermediate level
abandon = go away from a person and stop helping them / stop working on a project, etc
"He abandoned his children when they were very young."
"She abandoned her plans to become a singer."
abdomen = the part of your body below your chest
"I have a pain in my abdomen."
(Also "abs" – muscles in your abdomen)
abroad = a different country from yours
"She's lived abroad for ten years."
absent = not present
"How many students are absent today?" the teacher asked.
accent = the way you pronounce a language
"He speaks with a French accent."
"Her jumper really accents the colour of her eyes."
accept = not argue
"I accept your point of view."
"Please accept this award!"
(noun = "acceptance")
accident = when something isn't planned
"They had a terrible car accident."
accompany = go somewhere with another person
"She accompanied him to the train station."
account = story
"Did you believe his account of the robbery?"
= financial statement
"We need to do the accounts for the year."
(Also "bank account)
accountant = person who does financial statements
"Your accountant can tell you how much tax to pay."
accurate = correct, no mistakes
"His work is always very accurate."
accuse = when you say someone is guilty of something
"She accused him of murder."
"Don't accuse me! I didn't do it!"
ace = number 1 card in a pack
"She got two aces and won the card game."
= in tennis, when you serve the ball and the other player can't return it
"She served an ace and won the match."
= when something is fantastic
"He's got an ace new bike."
ache = when a part of your body hurts
"I've got a terrible headache!"
"My back aches. I want to take a painkiller."
acid = when something is bitter or burns
"If you've got an acid stomach you should take something for it."
actually = a word we use to say something is different / surprising
"Actually, I don't live in the UK anymore."
adapt = change to suit a different environment
"You'll have to adapt the way you study when you go to University."
(noun = "adapter" – something you use for electrical items when you go to a different country)
addicted = when you are dependent on something (ie drugs)
"She became addicted to drugs when she was in her 20s."
(person = "addict"; noun = "addiction")
admire = when you think someone or something is really good and should be praised
"I really admire his honesty. It isn't easy to say what he did."
admit = when you accept what someone else says
"I admit that you're right."
= when you allow / don't allow someone to come in
"Dogs aren't admitted."
(Noun = "admission")
adolescent = teenager
"The doctor treats adults and adolescents."
adopt = bring a child from other parents into your family
"They adopted a little boy last year."
= start a different way to do things
"If we adopt their idea, we can save a lot more money."
advantage = something in your favour
"You've got an advantage, because you already know the manager of the company."
(opposite = "disadvantage")
adverb = (grammatical) word that describes a verb or an adjective
"The word 'carefully' is an adverb."
advertise = to make publicity for something
"How often does your shop advertise in the newspaper?"
(noun = "advertisement" or "advert")
advice = suggestions / help
"Can you give me some advice about travelling to the US?"
(verb = "to advise")
affect = when there's an impact on someone or something else
"Have these new rules affected your company?"
affection = when you show love / friendship
"All children need a lot of affection!"
(adj = "affectionate")
afford = have the money for something
"We can't afford a luxury holiday this year. We're going to go camping instead."
afterwards = later
"Afterwards, when he thought about it, he realised that she was right."
agent = a person who sells / acts for another person
"If you want to buy a house, you should find a good estate agent."
aggressive = when you show a violent or "fighting" attitude
"He's quite an aggressive driver and I don't like being in the car with him."
agitated = not calm
"She gets very agitated if you don't tell her the answer immediately."
agriculture = science, practice and industry of farming
"Is agriculture an important industry in your country?"
ahead = in front, before
"The President walked ahead of the others."
= in the future
"In the days ahead, there will be a few problems."
(Also "go ahead!" – please go before me / please feel free to do what you want to do)
alarm = a high sound to warn you or wake you up
"What time did you set the alarm for?"
album = a big book for photographs or stamps
"We have an old family photo album."
alcohol = a type of drink, like wine, beer, whisky, etc
"At what age can you legally buy alcohol in your country?"
(Person = "alcoholic" – someone dependent on alcohol)
algebra = a type of Maths
"Do you study algebra at school?"
alien = someone / something very different
"Do you believe in aliens from another planet?"
"His way of thinking was alien to me."
(verb = "alienate" – feel separate from other people)
alike = similar
"The two sons are very alike."
allergy = when your body has a reaction to something
"She can't eat peanuts. She has an allergy to them."
allow = permit
"The school doesn't allow smoking."
almond = a sweet, white nut
"Marzipan is made from almonds."
along = (grammatical) preposition
"They walked along the river."
aloud = spoken (not read silently)
"She spoke aloud in front of the whole class."
alternative = different
"I have an alternative idea. Let's go to Spain instead of Italy this summer."
altitude = how high something is
"At this altitude, it can be difficult to breathe easily."
altogether = when you put everything together
"We've raised £100 altogether for the charity."
ambassador = representative of a country
"The French ambassador was invited to the Queen's reception."
ambition = when you want to succeed
"Her ambition is to be a doctor."
(Adj = "ambitious")
among = with other people / things
"He walked among the people in the crowd."
ancestor = someone in your family from a long time ago
"My ancestors came from Scandinavia."
ancient = (pronounced "ayn-shunt") very old
"They drive an ancient Renault."
= a long time ago
"The ruins date back to Ancient Greece."
angel = a heavenly creature (religious)
"There were pictures of angels on the church ceiling."
angle = the closeness between two lines which are connected at one point
"He drew a 90 degree right angle on his paper."
"He always looks at problems from a different angle."
animation = cartoon
"Her children love animations."
announce = say something publicly
"They announced the winners of the competition."
(noun = "announcement")
ant = a small (often black) insect that lives in a colony
"If you leave a small piece of bread on the ground, you'll soon see an ant near it."
ankle = the part of your body between your leg and your foot
"He fell down the stairs and broke his ankle."
anniversary = the same day as an event a year / 2 years, etc ago
"Today is the anniversary of his death, so I'm feeling a little sad."
annoy = make someone a bit cross
"Don't annoy your little brother!"
(Adj = "annoying"; noun = "annoyance")
annual = every year
"We have an annual Christmas party."
antique = very old (often, more than 100 years old)
"They have an antique dresser in their bedroom."
(Also "to collect antiques")
anxious = worried
"Her son left on the train ten hours ago and she hasn't heard from him. She's a little anxious."
anyway = a word you use to change the conversation
"Anyway, let's talk again next week."
apart = not together
"They live apart."
(Also "apart from")
apartment = flat (American English)
"Have you seen her new apartment? It's beautiful!"
app = piece of software or program you use for a particular function
"Have you got a weather app on your phone?"
appear = be visible
"If you look closely, a strange figure will appear."
= act in a play
"He's appearing in a new play at the Almeira Theatre."
"It appears that all our calculations were wrong."
(Also noun = "appearance": how you look physically. "How can you describe her appearance?")
appetite = when you want to eat
"Her children have a very healthy appetite!"
(Also "appetiser" = the first course of a meal)
apply = make a formal request (especially for a job)
"Are you going to apply for the job?"
(noun = "application"; person = "applicant")
appointment = specific time for a meeting
"I've got a doctor's appointment this morning."
approach = get nearer
"You have to be careful when you approach wild animals."
= the way you deal with something
"How are you going to approach the question of a pay rise?"
approachable = when you're easy to talk to
"Are your teachers approachable?"
approve = accept as satisfactory
"Did your parents approve of your career choice?"
(noun = "approval")
apricot = a summer fruit, with soft skin and orange flesh (and a stone in the middle)
"We made apricot jam this summer."
arch = a round top to a wall / window
"Her house is lovely. She has arches around a courtyard so it's very cool in summer."
archaeology = studying people and culture from the past
"If you study archaeology, you can take part in an excavation."
(person = "archaeologist")
archery = a sport where you use a bow and arrow to hit a target
"Archery has been popular for hundreds of years."
architect = someone who designs buildings
"She wants to be an architect."
(subject = "architecture")
argument = when you argue
"They had a terrible argument and she left."
= reasons to support your point of view
"Her argument is that it will save money."
arrange = organise
"Can you arrange the hotel for me for next week's business trip, please?"
(noun = "arrangement")
arrest = when the police stop a criminal
"Have the police arrested the bank robber yet?"
aristocrat = someone with a noble family
"The Duke is an aristocrat."
artistic = when you have a talent for art
"All her children are artistic."
ash = grey substance left after a fire
"There was a lot of ash on the ground after their bonfire."
ashtray = a bowl for the ash from cigarettes
"She bought him a glass ashtray for his birthday."
assist = help (quite formal)
"Her job is to assist the doctor."
(noun = "assistance"; person = "assistant")
asthma = (pronounced "ass-ma") serious illness that reduces oxygen to your lungs
"If you have asthma, you should take an inhaler with you when you go out."
astonish = surprise someone (a lot)
"She astonished me with her knowledge of ancient Greek."
(adj = "astonishing", "astonished")
astrology = study of the position of the stars and their effect on people
"Do you believe in astrology?"
astronomy = study of planets, the universe, etc
"Can you study astronomy at your school?"
asylum = when you ask another country to protect you
"He escaped his country and applied for asylum."
"We've seen lots more asylum seekers arrive this year."
athlete = a sports person who runs, jumps, etc
"How many athletes did your country send to the Olympics?"
(sport = "athletics"; adj = "athletic")
atmosphere = environment
"There's a bad atmosphere in the company."
= the air surrounding a planet
atom = the basic unit of a chemical element
"Everything is made up of atoms."
(adj = "atomic")
attach = fix things together
"Attach the letter to the brochure with a paperclip."
(noun = "attachment")
attack = start fighting someone
"The group of boys attacked him in the street."
attic = the room at the top of your house (under the roof)
"His bedroom is in the attic."
attitude = the way you treat people or work, etc
"She has an excellent attitude at work. Her boss loves her!"
attract = make someone else like you
"She attracts lots of men because she is so beautiful."
(adj = "attractive")
= make other people notice you
"Can you attract the attention of the waiter?"
aubergine = a purple Mediterranean vegetable
"Moussaka is made from aubergine."
audience = the people watching a concert or television programme
"There were a lot of people in the audience."
= a formal interview with an important person
"He requested an audience with the King."
audio = sound
"I have an audio recording of my grandfather somewhere."
author = the person who writes a book
"Is he a famous author?"
autograph = the signature of a famous people
"Can I ask you for your autograph?"
automatic = when something happens without you doing it
"The door light is automatic."
(adverb = "automatically")
automobile = car (American English)
"He loves old automobiles."
available = ready, in supply
"Is this t-shirt also available in blue?"
"The doctor isn't available today."
avatar = the icon which represents you on websites, etc
"If you click under your avatar, you can see your settings."
avenue = a long road, often with trees
"They live on a beautiful avenue, near the centre of the town."
avoid = when you try not to do something / meet someone
"I need to avoid eating sweets!"
"It's hard to avoid him. He's here all the time!"
award = prize
"He got an award for bravery."
awesome = wonderful
"He's got an awesome phone."
awful = terrible
"Have you heard the news? It's awful!"
A Words at Intermediate level
abacus = rectangular frame with wires and beads on them, used to calculate
"Can you use an abacus, or do you prefer a calculator?"
abbey = a large religious building where monks / nuns live
"The building is an old Benedictine abbey."
abdicate = say you no longer want to be King / Queen
"King Edward abdicated the throne."
abduct = take a person away from their home
"The father abducted his children and took them back to his home country."
"He believes he was abducted by aliens."
abnormal = not normal
"Don't worry – the lump isn't abormal," the doctor said.
(opposite adj = "normal")
abolish = officially stop something
"When was slavery finally abolished in the USA?"
abort = give up
"They aborted their attempt to swim across the Channel."
(Also "abortion" = medical procedure to remove a foetus from the womb)
abrupt = sudden
"She made an abrupt turn, and went back the way she came."
= impolite because you are very brief with someone
"I think I was a bit abrupt in the bank."
absorb = soak up a liquid
"Use a paper towel to absorb all the liquid."
(adj = "absorbent")
= be so interested in something you don't think about anything else
"The kids have been absorbed in that cartoon programme since this morning!"
abstain = decide not to vote
"She abstained in the vote."
(noun = "abstention")
absurd = ridiculous
"Your ideas are simply absurd!"
abundant = when there is plenty of something
"We have an abundant supply of water on the farm."
abuse = use something for a bad purpose
"Did he abuse his position when he gave his son a job?"
"He died of alcohol abuse."
= treat someone badly
"I think he's guilty of emotional abuse."
(adj = "abusive")
academic = someone who studies a subject for his / her job
"He's a renowned academic."
"The discussion about house prices is academic. We'll never be able to afford one in this area."
accentuate = make something stand out
"Her makeup accentuates her eyes."
achieve = succeed in what you wanted to do
"Have you achieved your career goals yet?"
(noun = "achievement")
acknowledge = accept that something exists or is true
"The government finally acknowledged their mistakes."
acne = a skin problem that causes spots
"He had terrible acne when he was a teenager."
acorn = the fruit of an oak tree
"You can make coffee from acorns."
acoustic = related to sound
"We need acoustic proofing in this room if we want to make recordings."
= not amplified
"He plays acoustic guitar."
(Also "acoustics" – "The venue has great acoustics.")
acrobat = person (often in a circus) who can jump, turn etc fast
"You have to be fast, strong and have a good sense of balance to be an acrobat."
acquaintance = someone you know (but not a friend)
"Sally is an acquaintance of mine."
(Also "get acquainted = get to know someone)
acquire = buy (formal) or gain
"We acquired several new chairs when we went shopping this weekend."
(noun = "acquisition")
= learn a habit or a skill
"She acquired a taste for expensive clothes when she lived in Paris."
acute = severe, intense (negative)
"This illness can be chronic or acute."
"There's an acute shortage of hospital beds in this region."
adder = type of snake (viper)
"If an adder bites you, you should go to hospital."
additive = something you add to food
"There are sure to be some additives in this bread if the expiry date is a month!"
adjacent = next to (formal)
"The utility room is adjacent to the kitchen."
adjust = change
"You can adjust the size of the image."
administration = system for managing or running a business, etc
"He works in the administration department."
(Also "admin" = "I hate doing admin work!")
adrenaline = hormone that increases blood circulation to prepare the muscles
"You get a massive adrenaline rush if you go bungee jumping."
address = speech
"The President's address was streamed live to millions of people."
adultery = when you betray your husband / wife
"Adultery is one of the reasons people give when they want a divorce."
advance = go forward
"The soldiers advanced slowly."
= a sum of money you get before it's due
"Can I have an advance on my salary this month?"
advances = when someone (usually a man) "makes a move" on another person
"She rejected his advances."
aerial = long metal rod to get a signal for a television, radio etc
"You'll need a bigger aerial than that to pick up reception."
aerosol = a pressurised spray can
"Declare any aerosols you have in your hand luggage."
affair = when you have a relationship outside your marriage
"Both of them have had long-term affairs."
"Lets forget the whole affair!"
affairs = business matters
"Don't ask him about his business affairs!"
affluent = rich
"They live in an affluent area of the city."
agenda = list of things to discuss at a meeting
"What's on the agenda for today?"
= diary (American English)
"Are there any appointments in the agenda for today?"
= your "plan"
"Do you think there's a hidden agenda to demonise refugees?"
aggravate = make something worse
"Sending in more police will only aggravate the situation."
= annoy someone
"Don't aggravate him – you'll only make matters worse."
agile = be able to move easily
"If I were more agile, I'd chase after them."
(noun = "agility")
agony = when something hurts a lot
"After the operation, he was in agony."
agonise: find it extremely hard to make a decision
"They agonised over whether to buy a new house."
agnostic = when you don't know something (especially if you aren't sure if there's a God)
"I think you could call her an agnostic."
aid = help
"He came to her aid."
"Aid agencies say the situation is dramatic."
(Also "first aid" – when you give the first medical treatment to someone)
aim = what you want to achieve
"We're aiming to win the competition!"
= the direction of something
"Never aim your gun at someone!"
ain't = non-standard English for "am not", "aren't" or "isn't"
"You ain't seen nothing yet!"
airhead = when you forget lots of things
"I'm such an airhead! I left the shopping list at home!"
airy = when a room is large with lots of windows
"Their new flat is very bright and airy."
alert = watchful, vigilant / paying attention
"Don't fall asleep! You need to be alert so you can listen for any danger."
"She's always bright and alert in class."
(Also "alert someone to" = let someone know about something. "He alerted her to the dangers of the new phone.")
algorithm = a set of rules that a computer / program follows when it makes calculations
"The Amazon sales algorithms keep changing."
align = bring two or more things into a straight line
"All the pens on his desk were aligned."
= bring other things into the same line, belief or attitude
"Can you align your personal values with the aims of the company?"
allege = say someone has committed a crime
"He is alleged to have threatened the shopkeeper on more than one occasion."
(noun = "allegation")
ally = someone who is your friend / on your side (especially against someone else)
"Our allies will support us."
(noun = "alliance")
altar = priest's table in a church
"The bride and groom stood in front of the altar."
alter = change
"We altered the settings."
although = conjunction used to show a contrast
"Although it was hot outside, he wore a jacket and jeans."
alumni = the people you went to university with
"Do you belong to any alumni associations?"
amateur = not professional (or paid to do something)
"He plays football at an amateur level."
= not very good
"My cake is very amateurish I'm afraid."
amen = the word you say at the end of a prayer
"Please look after my parents. Amen."
= what you say when you agree with someone
"Amen to that!"
ambiguous = when something isn't clear or can have more than one meaning
"His speech was a little ambiguous. I don't know if he's for hunting or against it."
amiable = friendly, easy-going
"He's a very amiable person. You'll like him!"
ammunition = bullets, etc that you need to fire arms
"We're out of ammunition!"
= something that helps you win an argument
"Don't say these things to him. You're only giving him ammunition to use against you!"
amplify = make bigger
"The size of the room amplifies all sounds."
amputate = cut off (a part of your body)
"The doctors had to amputate his leg."
anal = relating to the "anus" (part of your body from which you defecate)
= someone who is obsessive over small things
"He gets so anal about his filing system."
analyse = examine
"They analysed the sales figures."
(noun = "analysis", pronounced "a-NAL-uh-sis")
anarchy = when there is no rule of law
"It was absolute anarchy when the police lost control of the demonstration."
anatomy = the study of bodies
"Is the anatomy of a cat similar to the anatomy of a rabbit?"
(adj = anatomical)
anchor = big iron hook that keeps a ship in position
"They dropped anchor in the bay."
= someone who presents a news or sports show (American English)
"He's famous as a news anchor."
anecdote = a short or funny story you tell people
"After dinner they swapped a few anecdotes."
angler = someone who enjoys fishing as a sport
"At the weekend, you'll see a lot of anglers on this part of the river."
animated = lively
"They had an animated discussion about politics."
annul = declared as invalid
"The elections were annulled after claims of irregularities."
"Their marriage was annulled."
ante = prefix meaning "before"
"There's very good antenatal care in this hospital."
antenna = what insects use to sense
"Insects can navigate with their antenna."
"We'll need to buy a new TV antenna."
anthem = a song which you sing with other people during celebrations or ceremonies
"Do you stand up when they play the National Anthem?"
anti = prefix meaning "against"
"antisocial" = when you don't like being with people
"anti-clockwise" = when you move against the direction of clock hours
"anti-theft" = a device to stop something being stolen
"antifreeze" = a liquid you use in an engine to stop the petrol freezing
= when you are against something
"She's very anti John at the moment. I wonder why?"
ape = from the monkey family of animals
"We can learn a lot from studying apes in the wild."
appal = horrify
"They were appalled by the recent decision."
(adj = "appalling" / "appalled")
apparent = obvious
"It became apparent that he didn't know the answer."
apparently = something you say to mean "it seems that"
"Apparently they're getting married this year."
appeal = ask a higher authority to make a decision
"If we don't win this case, we'll appeal it."
= ask other people for help
"They made an appeal for donations."
= something that attracts other people
"His warm personality appeals to younger children."
"Can you explain the appeal of Marilyn Monroe?"
applaud = clap (formal)
"The audience applauded at the end of the concert."
(noun = "applause")
appoint = give a job to someone
"They've appointed her as the new Finance Officer."
appreciate = be grateful for
"I really appreciate all your help."
= rise in value
"Fine art will always appreciate in value."
(opposite = depreciate)
apprentice = person learning a job
"He's an apprentice engineer."
(noun = "apprenticeship")
appropriate = correct for the situation
"It's appropriate to bring a present when you're invited to a party."
approximate = rough / not precise
"Do you have an approximate number of people that you know are coming to the party?"
apron = what you wear over your clothes when you cook
"All the chefs wear aprons."
aptitude = natural ability
"She has an aptitude for languages."
aquatic = relating to water
"They took their children to the aquatic park."
arcade = covered street with shops on both sides
"Are you going to the shopping arcade later?"
arena = large space for sports, concerts, etc
"They played Wembley Arena to crowds of thousands."
arithmetic = mathematics (dealing with numbers)
"Help me with this sum – my arithmetic isn't very good!"
armed = when you carry "arms" such as a gun or knife
"The robber was armed."
(also "armaments" – long form of "arms")
armour = a type of metal suit to protect your body (worn in the Middle Ages)
"The exhibition shows knights in suits of armour."
aroma = smell (usually pleasant)
"There's a lovely coffee aroma coming from the kitchen."
arrogant = when you think you're better than other people
"I find him a bit arrogant, to be honest."
arrow = a long, thin metal weapon with a point at the end
"The hunter fired an arrow and killed the deer."
arse = the part of your body you sit on (British English informal), "ass" in American English
"Get off your arse and do some work!"
arsey = when you have a bad attitude and refuse to do things (British English informal)
"She complains that her daughter is a typical arsey teenager and always answers back."
arson = the crime of setting fire to something
"The police say that the fire was caused by arson."
artichoke = a vegetable from the thistle family
"They made a lovely vinaigrette to go with the artichokes."
articulate = able to speak well / fluently
"He gave a very articulate presentation."
= when parts are connected by a joint
"He drives an articulated lorry."
ascend = go up
"When the plane ascends, you can feel the air pressure changing."
ashes = remains of a body after cremation
"What do you want to do with his ashes?"
aside = to one side
"She took him aside and whispered in his ear."
= a comment you say quietly so only the intended person hears it
"As an aside, I don't think you should trust him."
asparagus = a long thin green spring vegetable
"We ate asparagus in a hollondaise sauce."
aspect = part of something
"There's another aspect that you haven't considered…"
= the way a building is positioned
"The house has a southerly aspect."
aspire = have an ambition, want to reach
"She aspires to a lovely house in the country."
ass = (American English) your bottom (or "arse" in British English)
= stupid person
"He's such an ass."
assassinate = murder someone for religious or political reasons
"The president was assassinated."
(person = "assassin")
assault = physical attack
"He was found guilty of assault and sent to prison."
assertive = when you say what you want without being passive or aggressive
"You should be more assertive and stand up for yourself!"
assess = evaluate
"We need to assess these proposals before we can make a decision."
asset = something you own which has value
"What's the value of your assets?"
= someone who brings value
"You're an asset to the company!"
associate = connect something in your mind
"She associates 'thank you letters' with good manners."
= business partner
"Is he an associate of yours?"
assume = believe something to be true (but without proof)
"I'm assuming you want to go to the party?"
(noun = "assumption")
assure = promise
"I can assure you that it won't happen again."
(noun = "assurance")
atheist = someone who doesn't believe in God
"How many atheists are there in the UK?"
atrocity = a terrible crime
"The regime was accused of human rights atrocities."
atrocious = dreadful
"Your handwriting is atrocious!"
attempt = when you try something
"She made an attempt to help, but was unsuccessful."
"They attempted to climb Mt Everest."
attribute = give the cause of something
"He attributed his success to a strong work ethic."
"The candidate has a number of very positive attributes."
authority = an expert
"She's an authority on Roman architecture."
= someone with power
"You need to talk to someone in authority about this."
(Also "the authorities", such as "the health authorities")
"Will the government ever authorise euthanasia?"
autism = a developmental disorder
(adj = "autistic" – "They have an autistic child.")
avert = look away
"I averted my eyes as he gave me the injection."
"They narrowly averted an accident."
aviation = the science / business of flying
"The aviation industry has seen a lot of changes."
avocado = type of soft vegetable with a large stone in the middle
"Avocados are high in calories."
awe = when you respect and fear something
"They were in awe of their father."
awkward = when something is difficult or embarrassing
"It's a bit of an awkward situation. I don't know whether to invite them or not…"
"The interviewer asked me some awkward questions about my previous job."
axe = (American English "ax") = metal tool for chopping wood
"We need to sharpen the axe."
azure = bright blue
"The sky was a gorgeous azure."
A Words at Advanced level
abate = become less intense
"The storm abated after half an hour."
aberration = something that isn't usual
"His behaviour was a bit of an aberration this evening. He's normally very calm and polite."
abhor = hate, detest (formal)
"I abhor his attitude."
(noun = "abhorrent")
abject = miserable, unpleasant, degrading
"They live in abject poverty."
ablaze = on fire
"The vandals set the barn ablaze."
ablutions = wash yourself (formal / humorous)
"I need to perform my ablutions before we go out."
abound = to be plentiful
"Opportunities abound for people with an entrepreneurial mindset."
abracadabra = the word a magician says to reveal the magic
"When I say 'abracadabra' you'll see the rabbit."
abrasive = something that can scratch
"You'll need to use an abrasive sponge to get that mark off."
= have a harsh personality
"Her abrasive manner has won her few friends in the company."
abridge = shorten a book, film etc
"I've got the abridged version of the book at home."
abscond = leave in secret so you don't have to face the law
"He emptied the bank account and absconded with all the money."
abseil = go down a mountain with a rope
"They abseiled off the top of the mountain."
absolve = declare someone free of guilt
"The judge absolved him of all the charges against him."
abstemious = when you avoid eating or drinking too much alcohol
"We were very abstemious on holiday!"
abysmal = terrible
"His school reports were abysmal this term."
abyss = a very deep hole
"He sank into an abyss of despair."
accede = agree to a request (formal)
"The government did not accede to their demands, and so the union called a strike."
acclaim = public praise
"His acceptance speech was received to great acclaim."
acclimatise = become used to the weather / environment
"It might take you a few minutes to acclimatise to the water temperature."
accolade = award for merit
"Have you received any accolades for your work?"
accord = official agreement
"The two countries signed the accord."
= give someone the power to do something
"He was accorded full voting rights."
(Also "in accordance with")
accredited = recognised to meet certain standards
"Make sure you study English at an accredited school."
= get credit for something
"Her father was accredited with discovering a new star."
accrue = accumulate money, etc over time
"You'll accrue interest on this account."
accumulate = gather an increasing amount
"His debts gradually accumulated."
acre = a measure of land (just under half a hectare)
"She has a couple of acres of land."
acrid = strong unpleasant smell
"Acrid smoke came from the burning rubbish."
acrimony = bitterness (of feeling)
"Their argument descended into acrimony."
(adj = "acrimonious" – "an acrimonious divorce")
acronym = a word made up of the initial letters of other words
"The BBC is an acronym of 'British Broadcasting Corporation'."
acumen = ability to make the right decision
"You'll need business acumen to be promoted."
adage = saying
"Is there any truth to the old adage 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'?"
adamant = refusing to change your mind
"She was quite adamant about not going to the reception."
addled = confused
"I think his brain is a little addled after the shock he's had."
adhere = stick (formal)
"There are a number of regulations that you must adhere to."
adrift = floating (ie of a boat no longer moored)
"They sent a mayday signal when they realised they were adrift."
advocate = advise or support
"What would you advocate in this situation?"
= someone who publicly supports something
"He's an advocate of human rights."
affable = friendly, easy-going
"He's quite an affable sort of guy."
affinity = a natural good relationship with someone / something
"She has an affinity with animals."
affirm = state something positively
"They affirmed their commitment to equal rights."
affix = attach (formal)
"Affix the stamp here."
= (grammatical) something you add to a word
"Pre and post are examples of affixes."
afflicted = suffer from an illness / pain
"She's been afflicted by epilepsy all her life."
affront = something that causes offence
"His remark was an affront on the dignity of all women."
afoot = being prepared, or happening (old-fashioned, humorous)
"There are plans afoot to spring a surprise birthday party on him."
aftermath = the consequences of a negative event
"In the aftermath of the explosion, the streets were sealed off."
aged = (pronounced "age-id") very old
"Her parents are now both quite aged and in need of care."
agglomerate = merge into a group
"They agglomerated the marketing divisions into one department."
aghast = (pronounced "ag-arst") horrified
"She looked on aghast as the current pulled the boat away."
ailment = minor illness
"This is a miracle cure for all those little ailments you can get in old age."
aimless = without direction
"We had an hour to kill, so we wandered aimlessly through the town."
ale = a type of British beer
"He drank half a pint of pale ale."
alimony = financial support paid to an ex-spouse after divorce
"She's seeking alimony from her ex-husband."
alkaline = opposite of acidic
allocate = give a task / money etc to someone
"She allocated the project to me."
allot = give a part of something to someone
"We've been allotted a week to complete this work."
allotment = a small area of land that you can rent to grow vegetables
"There's a year's waiting list to get an allotment."
allude = hint at something
"She alluded to a family scandal, but we never found out what it was."
allure = be attractive, fascinating
"They were allured by her grace and dignity."
alms = charity given to poor people (often as a religious gesture, in previous times)
"Rich people traditionally gave alms at Easter."
aloof = distant, cold
"The headmaster is rather aloof so we never know what he's thinking."
altruistic = when you do something to benefit other people
"His reasons for developing this land are entirely altruistic."
(noun = "altruism")
amalgamate = combine to form one organisation
"They amalgamated their companies to dominate the market."
amass = accumulate a large quantity / amount of something
"He amassed a fortune during his life."
amble = walk slowly
"They ambled down the road, looking in the shop windows."
amenable = responsive, easily persuaded
"I think she'll be amenable to your suggestion."
amid = among
"Amid all the panic, one person stayed calm."
amiss = not 100% accurate or right
"There was something amiss about his performance. It didn't ring completely true for me."
amok = be out of control
"The children ran amok and caused chaos in the restaurant."
ample = enough (quite formal)
"You've had ample time to make a decision."
amulet = small ornament / jewellery worn to give protection or bring luck
"He wore an amulet to ward off evil spirits."
anachronism = something that belongs to a previous age
"His top hat and waistcoat looked like an anachronism at the wedding."
anaesthetic = a medicine that numbs you so you can't feel anything during an operation
"Will they use a general or local anaesthetic?"
anathema = something that you hate
"The idea of apologising to him after all he's done is anathema to me!"
androgenous = looking both female and male
"They design very androgenous-looking clothes."
angst = a feeling of dread or worry
"He suffers from the usual teenage angst about school, friends and his place in the world."
anoint = put oil or another substance onto someone (in a ceremony)
"The priest anointed her with the sign of the cross."
anomaly = something that doesn't conform to the rules or standards
"I think yesterday's sales figures are a bit of an anomaly. Usually, they're much higher."
antagonistic = deliberately trying to start an argument / fight, aggressive
"I wish you wouldn't be so antagonistic with your teachers!"
antelope = type of African deer
"We saw lots of antelopes, but no lions."
antics = silly behaviour
"Stop your antics now, you two, and eat your dinner properly!"
antler = the horns on a male deer's head
"They mounted a pair of antlers on the wall."
antsy = on edge, restless
"Everyone gets a little antsy before elections."
apparel = another word for "clothing"
"They're designing a new line in women's apparel."
appease = do something to keep someone happy
"If you appease him now, he'll just come back with more demands later."
appendix = small organ which doesn't seem to have a function in humans
"He had to have his appendix out."
(illness = "appendicitis")
= extra section of a book or report
"There are more details in the appendix."
apprehend = arrest
"Police have not yet apprehended the criminal."
= understand (formal)
"We can't yet apprehend the long-term damage we're causing the enviroment."
apprehensive = cautious
"I'd be a little apprehensive about trusting him too far."
archaic = old-fashioned, no longer in use
"He uses quite archaic words sometimes."
ardent = enthusiastic
"She's an ardent supporter of single-sex education."
arduous = difficult
"Their journey across the Sahara was arduous."
aria = a solo (song) in an opera
"She sang a famous aria."
ark = boat that Noah used to save 2 animals of every species
"The children put on a play about Noah's Ark."
array = range
"There was a wide array of jewellery in the shop."
arsenic = a type of poison
"Police suspected arsenic poisoning in the murder."
ashen = grey
"When he heard the news, his face turned ashen."
asphyxiate = (pronounciation "as-fix-ee-ay-shun") not have enough oxygen to breathe
"Several people died of asphyxiation in the fire."
(noun = "asphyxia" or "asphyxiation")
assent = agree, approve
"The committee assented to the proposals."
assign = give work to someone
"My boss always assigns interesting tasks to me."
assimilate = mix in with another culture / environment
"It doesn't take long for children to assimilate in a new school."
astute = clever, possessing insight
"He's an astute politician. It would be a mistake to underestimate him."
attain = achieve (a goal, etc)
"He attained a high level of expertise."
attest = testify that something is true
"This letter needs to be legally attested to be valid."
aura = air / manner
"She has this aura of bravery around her."
austere = having a strict attitude
"They're quite austere parents, and their children are very quiet and polite."
= with no luxuries
"The years during the Depression were particularly austere."
(noun = "austerity")
autopilot = without needing to think
"Look at the orchestra. They seem to be playing on autopilot!"
averse = be opposed to something
"He's not averse to breaking the law occasionally."
"Are you risk-averse?"
await = wait for (formal)
"We await further instructions."
awash = containing large amounts of something
"The company is awash with funds at the moment."
awning = a type of blind over a shop or building that protects from the sun or rain
"They put up the awning on their vegetable stall when it began to rain."
AWOL = (pronounced "ay-wol") acronym for "absent without leave"
"I don't know where Mark is. I think he's gone AWOL again."
axis = (imaginary) line around which things rotate
"The Earth revolved on its axis every 24 hours."
= horizontal or vertical lines on a graph
"This measurement goes on the x-axis, while the other measurement goes on the y-axis."
axiom = something that is accepted as being true
"Do you believe the axiom that the only constant is change?"
(adj = axiomatic)
axle = metal bar passing through the wheels (of a car, etc)
"I need to replace the rear axle."
aye = another word for "yes" (especially used in northern England, Scotland)
"Aye, it's a cold night tonight!"
= a vote in favour
"How many Ayes and how many Nos have we got?"
aye-aye = something we say to mean "look!"
"Aye-aye, here's the boss. Wonder what he wants!"
English Vocabulary – C Words
Here's a list of more than 350 "C words" (words starting with the letter "C") listed in alphabetical order and by level. Check your understanding of the C words at each level before you move to the C words at the next level.
C Words at Elementary level
cab = taxi
"Lets get a cab."
(person = "cabby": a taxi driver)
cabbage = a green, winter vegetable
"Do you eat cabbage?"
cake = sweet food you eat on your birthday or at parties
"Don't eat too much cake!"
call = phone
"Can you call me tomorrow?"
= shout for someone
"Can you call Mr Jones, for me?"
= to name someone
"What's your sister called?"
camera = a machine you use to take a photo
"I've got a new digital camera."
can = ability (modal verb)
"Can you swim?"
"He opened a can of tuna."
cap = type of hat
"He wore a baseball cap."
capital = the most important city of a country
"London is the capital of the UK."
"We need extra capital in our business."
car = something you can drive
"They want a new car."
card = thick paper, often with decorations on it
"I want to send her a birthday card."
careful = with attention
"Be careful when you cross the road!"
(noun = care: "Take care!"; opposite adj = careless)
carpet = floor cover made of wool or another thick material
"She wants a new carpet in her living room."
carrot = a long, orange vegetable
"Carrots are good for your eyes!"
cartoon = animation on TV
"Do your children watch cartoons?"
cash = money (notes and coins)
"Have you got any cash to pay for this?"
castle = a big, stone house where important people live(d)
"Lots of tourists visit the castle."
cat = small animal that people often have as a pet
"She has two pet cats."
celebrity = a famous person
"The restaurant was full of celebrities."
cell = smallest unit of something
"We studied cells in Biology."
= a room for a prisoner
"There are two people in his cell."
cellphone = mobile phone
"She wants a new cellphone for her birthday."
central = in the centre
"She lives in central London."
(noun = centre)
century = 100 years
"We are now in the 21st century."
certain = sure
"Are you certain that they're coming today?"
(opposite adjective: uncertain)
chair = something you sit on
"He sat on a chair in the living room."
change = get/take a different one
"Can I change this book please? I'd like to get a different one instead."
= money that you get back in a shop when you pay a bigger amount for something
"Thank you – here's your change!"
= put on different clothes
"I want to change before we go out."
(noun = "changing room": a place where you can try on clothes in a shop)
chat = talk with friends either face-to-face, on the phone, or online
"We chatted for ages about his new job."
(noun = chat)
cheap = not very much money
"I bought a cheap sofa for my living room."
cheerful = happy, optimistic
"He's always so cheerful!"
(Also "cheers" = a word we say when we drink something with friends)
cheese = a food made from milk that we often eat with bread
"Do you prefer soft cheese or hard cheese? My favourite cheese is Parmesan."
chicken = a bird and a type of meat
"We've got chicken for lunch today."
child = a son or daughter of a mother and father
"He's a lovely child."
(plural noun = "children")
chip = fried potato
"Do you like chips?"
= microchip in a computer
chocolate = sweet food made from cocoa and sugar
"I love chocolate ice-cream!"
choose = select
"He chose a new phone in the shop."
(noun = choice)
church = a religious building for Christians
"He goes to church every Sunday."
cinema = a place where you can see films
"Do you want to go to the cinema tonight?"
circle = a round shape
"They sat in a circle."
city = a very big town
"More people live in the city than the countryside."
class = a group of students
"There aren't many girls in my class."
= a social group
"She's a bit upper class."
clean = when something isn't dirty
"I need to do some washing. I don't have any clean clothes left."
(Also "to clean")
clear = easy to understand
"Is that clear, or do I have to explain again?"
= when something is visible
"There were clear skies on our flight."
clock = something you can use to tell the time. It's normally on a wall
"The kitchen clock was very dirty."
close = near
"She lives close to me."
= to shut (verb)
"Can you close the door, please?"
clothes = the things you wear
"I'd like some new clothes for summer."
cloud = white part of the sky, before you get rain
"There weren't any clouds in the sky."
(adj = "cloudy")
club = an organisation with members
"Are you a member of the tennis club?"
coat = something you put on over your clothes when it's cold (or raining)
"He bought a new winter coat."
coffee = a hot drink which contains caffeine
"We drink a cup of coffee every day at breakfast."
coin = "metal" money
"These small coins are really heavy!"
cold = opposite of "hot"
"It's very cold tonight. Lets put the heating on."
= a cold = when you have a slight illness with a temperature and blocked nose
"I always get a cold in winter!"
college = a place where you can learn after school
"She studies at an agricultural college."
colour (US spelling "color") = when something isn't black or white, but a different colour like red, green, etc
"What colour is your new car?"
collect = bring things together
"She collects stamps from all over the world."
(noun = "collection")
come = arrive at a place
"What time are the guests coming?"
comedy = funny film, play or TV show
"His latest film is a comedy."
comic = magazine for children
"He likes reading comics."
"It was a comic situation."
(person = "comic")
communicate = talk / write to or phone another person to share information
"It isn't easy to communicate with other people if you don't speak their language."
(noun = "communication")
company = commercial organisation
"She runs her own company."
compare = say how things are the same or different
"I can't compare Paris with New York. They're so different."
(noun = comparison)
competition = when you want to win against other people
"They won the fancy dress competition."
(verb = "to compete"; adj = "competitive")
complete = finished / whole
"We've got the complete set of his DVDs."
(Also "to complete")
computer = a machine you use to write, use the internet, etc
"He still can't use a computer!"
confuse = not understand the meaning
"I often confuse these two words."
(adj = "confused" / "confusing"; noun = "confusion")
contact = have a way to communicate with another person
"What are your contact details?"
"He contacted me about the car."
continent = a large area in the world
"Europe is a continent."
continue = not stop
"Please continue your story – it's very interesting!"
conversation = when you talk to someone
"We had a really interesting conversation about books."
cook = make food into a meal
"We cooked a great dinner yesterday."
(person = "a cook")
cool = fashionable
"It's not cool to dance like that!"
= a little cold
"The evenings here can be quite cool."
copy = do the same thing as someone else
"He always copies me! If I buy a book, he buys a book!"
= write things that your teacher asks you to write
"Please copy down these words from the board."
corner = when two lines meet, often at 90 degrees
"Her house is on the corner of Green St and Lion St.")
cost = how much you pay for something
"How much did your house cost?"
(noun = "cost")
could = past form of "can"
"He could play the piano when he was 3."
count = add numbers
"I can count up to 10 in Japanese."
= matter / be important
"You can't win if other people help you. They don't count!"
country = a political state
"How many countries are there in the EU?"
countryside = a natural area outside towns / cities
"I prefer living in the countryside because it's quieter."
couple = two / three
"He spent a couple of days in hospital"
= two people
"They make a lovely couple!"
cousin = the child of your aunt / uncle
"My cousin is the same age as me."
cow = a farm animal that gives milk
"There were a few cows in the field."
crash = when something hits another thing
"He was in a terrible car crash."
(verb = to crash)
crazy = mad
"He's a crazy driver!"
cry = when you are sad and "tears" come from your eyes
"The film was so sad that I cried in the cinema!"
cucumber = a long, green salad vegetable
"Cucumbers are ideal vegetables for summer because they are so cool to eat."
cup = something you use to drink from (usually tea or coffee)
"Would you like a cup of tea?"
curly = not straight
"He has short, curly hair."
(noun = "curl")
customer = someone in a shop or who buys from a company
"The supermarket was full of customers."
cut = use scissors or a knife
"She cut the piece of paper into two."
cute = nice / pretty to look at
"She's got some really cute new sandals."
cycle = travel by bicycle
"She cycles to work."
= (noun) a complete turn
"How long is the lifecycle of a fly?"
C Words at Pre-Intermediate level
cabin = the area inside an aeroplane
"The cabin crew are here to help you."
calm = not agitated
"Keep calm and carry on!"
calculate = add numbers
"Can you calculate how much we'll need to pay?"
(noun = "calculation")
cancer = a serious illness when the cells in your body change
"Her grandmother died of cancer."
candidate = a person who you can choose in an election
"The presidential candidate gave a speech."
captain = high rank in the army or on a boat
"The captain invited us to his table for dinner."
cardigan = similar to a sweater / pullover, but with buttons or a zip in the middle
"He wore an old cardigan over his shirt."
career = your job progression
"He wants a career in IT."
carnival = festival or fair
"They decided to have a street carnival to celebrate the Royal Wedding."
carry = take in your arms
"She carried her child onto the plane."
case = suitcase / bag
"How many cases have you got?"
= medical situation
"He's got a bad case of tonsilitis."
= an example of something
"I think this is a case of not being prepared."
= a legal process
"His case comes up in a week."
cast = all the actors in a play or film
"There was a party for the cast after the last performance."
casual = not formal
"She prefers casual clothes like jeans and sweatshirts."
catch = get something in your hands when someone throws it to you
"He caught the ball."
= get an illness from a person
"I've caught your cold!"
cauliflower = a winter vegetable with white "flowers"
"Cauliflower cheese is a popular dish in the UK."
cause = reason
"What was the cause of the First World War?"
cave = hole (like a room) underground or in mountains
"They hid in a cave."
celebrate = have a party because something good happened
"When do you celebrate your birthday?"
(noun = "celebration")
cello = a musical instrument with strings, like a very large violin. You need to sit down to play it.
"I learnt to play the cello when I was a child."
ceremony = an important event to celebrate something
"When is your graduation ceremony?"
chain = a collection of links (for example, in jewellery)
"She wore a chain necklace."
= how things are linked together
"A chain of events led to the disaster."
challenge = something difficult that you do
"It's a challenge to balance a job and family."
champion = the best person at something
"He's a boxing champion."
(noun = "championship": a competition to find the champion)
chance = possibility
"Is there any chance we can go to the beach this weekend?"
character = personality
"He has an interesting character."
charge = to give electrical power to the battery in your phone / computer
"I need to charge (up) my phone."
= when you get someone to pay for a service
"The hotel charged me an extra £10 for room-service."
chase = run after someone/something
"The dog chased the cat."
cheat = do something wrong / illegal to pass an exam or get something you want
"Don't cheat in the exam – they'll catch you!"
= betray your partner
"He cheated on his wife and she left him."
check = make sure something is OK, or accurate
"Please check your work before you leave."
cheer = when you show your approval for something by shouting
"He was cheered by thousands of supporters."
("Cheers" = an expression we say when we drink with friends.)
chemist = a person who sells medicine or studies chemistry
"Go to the chemist if you need antibiotics."
(adj = "chemical")
chess = a game of strategy played on a board with black and white pieces
"Can you play chess?"
chest = the area of your body between your head and your waist
"If you have a pain in your chest, you should go to hospital."
chic = stylish
"She always looks so chic!"
chill = to relax
"You need to chill out!"
(adj = "chilled")
chilli pepper = a hot pepper
"I love Thai food, but they use a lot of chilli peppers!"
chilly = quite cold
"It's getting chilly. I think I'll get a jacket."
circus = a place of entertainment with clowns, trapeze artists and sometimes animals
"It was always exciting when the circus came to town."
citizen = person who comes from a particular country
"Are you a British citizen?"
clap = show your appreciation by hitting your hands together
"At the end of the concert, everyone in the audience clapped."
classic = something that is the best example / quality of a style
"She wore a classic black dress to the party."
classical = a type of music, like Beethoven or Mozart
clever = intelligent
"Their children are very clever and always get top marks in school."
client = customer of a business
"We need some more clients."
(clientele = a list of your clients)
climate = the weather system
"The climate in this country is hot in summer and mild in winter."
climb = walk / go up a hill or mountain
"He climbed up the hill to get a better view."
(person = "climber"; noun = "climbing")
cloth = a small piece of material you use to clean
"We need a new cloth – this one is really dirty now."
coach = a type of bus for long journeys
"You can take the coach from Edinburgh to London."
= to train someone
"He coached his son in tennis and football."
(person = "coach")
coast = the area next to the sea
"This part of the coast is very beautiful."
cocktail = a mix of alcoholic / non-alcoholic drinks people often have before dinner
"Lets go to the bar for a cocktail."
coconut = a fruit with liquid inside and white flesh
"They sat and ate a coconut under the palm trees."
code = series of letters and numbers to create instructions (computer code)
"Do you understand HTML code?."
colleague = a person you work with
"He has some really nice colleagues."
combine = put two or more things together
"Combine the flour and butter."
(noun = "a combination")
comfortable = when you feel physically good and "easy"
"These shoes are very comfortable."
(opposite adj = "uncomfortable";noun = "comfort")
command = give orders
"The army captain commanded his soldiers to open fire."
(verb = "to command")
comment = give your opinion about something
"He had a few comments about her newspaper article."
commercial = where the purpose is to make money
"She only likes commercial pop music."
= a TV or radio advertisement
"Have you seen the new pet food commercials?"
common = normal, popular
"These are common words in English."
complain = tell someone you don't like something
"They complained about the hotel room because it was dirty."
(noun = "a complaint")
complex = when many things are involved
"There are complex negotiations between the two countries."
(noun = "a complex": a place where many things happen – "leisure complex", "shopping complex")
complicate = make something more difficult or complex
"If you ask her for an opinion, it will just complicate things."
(adj = "complicated": "The situation is a bit complicated." noun = "complication")
compose = write music (or a letter)
"He composed a sweet song for her birthday."
(person = "composer")
concentrate = focus on something
"Can you speak a little more quietly, please? I can't concentrate on my work!"
(noun = "concentration")
condition = something that must happen for another thing to happen
"There are a few conditions you must meet before you can become a member of our club."
= physical state
"Her medical condition is getting worse."
conference = where people go to attend talks (or give talks) on a professional subject
"He's attending a sales conference next week."
confident = when you feel sure about something
"Are you confident that you'll pass the exam?"
(noun = "confidence")
confirm = say something will happen
"Can you confirm my hotel reservation for next weekend?"
correct = when something is wrong, you make it right
"Can you correct my English grammar, please?"
(adj = "correct"; "incorrect")
concerned = worried
"I'm concerned about his safety in a big city."
(noun = "concern")
congratulate = when you say "well done!" for something
"I'd like to congratulate you on your wedding!"
(noun = "congratulations": "Congratulations on passing the exam!"
connect = when you join two things together
"I think the problems are connected."
(noun = "connection"; adj = "connecting": "a connecting flight")
consider = think about something
"I'm considering getting a new job."
consist (of) = to include / be made from
"The village consists of a few houses and a bar."
contain = hold inside
"This bottle contains water."
(noun = "container")
control = when you have authority over something
"The police tried to control the crowd."
convince = persuade someone to do something
"He convinced me to go on holiday."
co-operation = when you work with someone else well
"There was lots of co-operation on this project."
cottage = a small house in the countryside
"She has a small cottage about 10 miles from Oxford."
cotton = a type of fabric that we often use for t-shirts
"Cotton is cool to wear in summer."
cough (pronounced "coff") = when you make a noise to free your chest
"If your cough continues for more than a week, go to the doctor"
(noun = "cough")
courage = bravery
"You need a lot of courage to bungee jump!"
(adj = "courageous")
courgette = a summer vegetable (also called "zucchini")
"Courgettes are better when they're young and tender."
course = a period of study
"He's attending an English course in London."
= a period of time
"During the course of his life, he lived in many countries."
of course = certainly
"Of course, he speaks English perfectly!"
cover = put something over another thing
"You should cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough."
= something you put on a bed to keep warm (similar to "blanket")
"I've got extra covers if you want them."
cracker = very thin, dried type of bread
"I've got cheese and crackers for my lunch today."
= something you pull at Christmas to make a very small explosion
cream = a kind of thick milk used in desserts or coffee
(adj = "creamy")
create = make something new
"He created a new outfit for the occasion."
(adj = "creative")
crew = people who work on a team
"The cabin crew distributed magazines to the passengers."
criticise = say what is wrong with something
"He criticised her choice of dress for the wedding."
(noun = "criticism"; person = "critic")
cross = go from one place to another
"Watch out when you cross the road."
"She was cross with her children."
= a religious symbol for Christians
"There was a cross on the wall."
crossroads = where two roads meet
"Turn left at the crossroads."
crossword = type of word game
"The clues in this crossword are really difficult!"
crowd = where there are lots of people
"The crowd waited in front of the celebrity's house."
(adj = "crowded")
crown = something that a king / queen wears on their head
"The crown jewels are kept in the Tower of London."
= to be crowned champion = to be recognised as the champion
cruel = unkind
"She made a cruel remark."
cube = a 3D square shape
"She likes sugarcubes in her coffee."
culture = set of traditions
"In our culture it's rude not to say "thank you" for a present."
= artistic things
"London is well-known as a city of culture."
(adj = "cultural")
cupboard = a place where you put things
"The plates are in the kitchen cupboard."
cure = to make someone well after an illness
"Can you cure a cold?"
(noun = "cure")
curious = interested
"I'm curious to hear about your trip!"
(noun = "curiosity")
currency = type of money
"What currency do they use in Spain?"
current = happening now
"The current situation is very tense."
= a movement in the sea
"Be careful of the current here. It's very strong and can pull you out to sea."
curry = food from India that's very popular in the UK
"She cooks a great potato and spinach curry."
curtain = material you have at the windows to block out light / help stay warm
"We draw the curtains in winter."
curve = bend
"There's a curve in the road ahead."
(verb = "to curve")
cushion = something soft you sit on
"There were a few cushions on the sofa."
custom = what you do usually / your habits
"It was his custom to go for a walk after lunch."
"Their customs are very different from ours."
customs = the part of an airport where you pay tax on something you bought abroad
"He declared his camera at customs."
C Words at Intermediate level
cable = thick rope / insulated wire
"Attach your computer to the printer with this cable."
= a way to access TV programmes and channels
"It's a new show on cable TV."
cage = a wire enclosure for an animal
"I hate seeing animals in cages in the zoo."
campaign = a movement to make a change or elect someone
"Her political campaign was seen as a success."
cane = a thin piece of wood
"The tomatoes grow on canes."
capable = able to do something
"I don't think the new manager is capable of running the department."
capacity = how much a thing or place can hold
"Wembley Stadium has a huge capacity."
capture = catch (a wild animal or someone who was escaping)
"Police have captured the criminal."
(adj = "captive")
caravan / campervan = a type of trailer that people take on holiday so they don't need to stay in a hotel
(A caravan is pulled by a car, while you can drive a campervan.)
"How many people can sleep in your caravan?"
carton = container made of card
"He bought a carton of orange juice."
cardboard = stiff paper that we use to make boxes
"This bread tastes of cardboard!"
carve = cut meat (or make a sculpture)
"It's quite difficult to carve the Sunday roast."
casualty = when someone is killed or injured either by war or in an accident
"Police have reported several casualties after the bomb blast."
= a hospital department where you go if you are injured
"Go straight to casualty!"
cautious = when you hesitate about doing something
"I'm a bit cautious about spending all that money on a car. Perhaps we should wait."
(noun = "caution")
ceiling = the top of a room (opposite to floor)
"They have very high ceilings in their house."
cellar = the lowest room in your house (under the ground floor) American English: "basement"
"We keep potatoes and apples in our cellar because it's so cool."
cement = something we use to make concrete (a building material)
"He bought a bag of cement to build a wall."
chaos = a disorganised situation
"It was complete chaos at the airport when the baggage handlers went on strike."
(adj = chaotic)
charming = a friendly person who makes you like him / her
"The host of the party was very charming."
cheek = the area of your face between your mouth and your ear
"She has very pink cheeks!"
cheeky = when you say something which is a bit naughty
"Her little boy is quite cheeky."
chew = when you try to eat something hard or tough, or for a long time
"After I came back from the dentist, it took me ages to chew my food."
"Have you got any chewing gum?"
chin = the area of your face below your mouth
"He has a pointed chin."
chlorine = a chemical used in swimming pools to clean the water
"I think I'm allergic to chlorine."
choir = a group of people who sing together, often in church
"The choir sang some popular Christmas carols."
chop = cut with a (large) knife
"Chop the onions."
chopsticks = thin pieces of wood you use to eat Chinese food
"Before you go to Hong Kong you should learn to use chopsticks!"
chore = a boring or difficult job you have to do
"How long do you spend on household chores every week?"
chronic = long-term
"He has a chronic illness."
circumstances = the situation at a particular time
"Under the circumstances, he decided to resign."
civil = polite, even when you don't like the other person
"They're at least civil towards each other."
(noun = "civilian": related to normal society rather than military; "civil partnership")
(adj = "civic": relating to being a citizen; "civic pride", "civic duty".)
claim = to state
"He claimed that he had been at home at the time of the crime."
= when you say you have a right to something
"Have you ever made an insurance claim?"
clash = fight or argue with
"The two groups clashed in front of the Town Hall and the police were called."
(noun = "a clash")
claw = the nail on an animal, like a cat or dog
"The cat's claws are really sharp."
clementine = a type of small orange
"In the winter we eat a lot of clementines."
click = make a noise by moving your thumb against your middle finger
"He clicked his fingers in time to the music."
= tap on a link on a website
"Click here to receive your free gift!"
cliff = the stone mountain dividing the sea and the land
"We went for a lovely walk along the cliffs."
clinic = a small, specialist hospital
"She spent a couple of days in the clinic."
(adj = clinical)
clip = cut off a corner or part of a piece
"Can you clip all the coupons, please?"
(noun = "clipping")
= something you use to attach two things
"You can use a paperclip to attach all these letters."
clique = a group of people who exclude other people from their group
"The girls in my class have formed a clique."
closet = wardrobe (American English)
"How many closets do you have?"
clown = the funny man at the circus
"The clown fell over and everyone laughed."
(verb = "to clown around")
clue = an idea to help you
"These crossword clues are really difficult."
(adj = "clueless" = when you have no idea)
coalition = when a political party shares power with another
"The coalition government only lasted two weeks."
cock = slang / swear word for penis
= male hen (abbreviation for "cockerel")
cocky = arrogant, over-confident
"John's a bit cocky. I don't like his attitude very much."
coincide = happen at the same time
"Our holiday coincided with a special offer on the hotel."
coincidence = when something happens by chance
"What a coincidence! I'm going on holiday to India as well!"
collapse = when someone or something breaks or falls
"He collapsed with exhaustion."
collide = when two things bump into each other
"The cars collided when the traffic lights stopped working."
(noun = "collision")
colony = a country under the control of another country
"This country used to be a British colony."
(adj = "colonial", "colonised")
colossal = huge
"That was a colossal waste of time!"
commitment = something that you promise to do
"I can't come to the party tonight because I have a family commitment."
(adj = "committed"; verb = "to commit")
companion = something / someone that accompanies a person / thing
"Her travelling companion was always ill."
"This is the companion book to the first in the series."
(verb "to accompany")
compatible = able to work with something else
"Is this phone compatible with the 3 network?"
(opposite adj = incompatible)
= able to get on with another person
"I don't think you're compatible with him!"
competent = able
"She's a very competent scientist."
comprehensive = thorough
"They produced a comprehensive report."
= state secondary school in the UK
"Did you go to a comprehensive school?"
conceive = able to have children
"She wants to start a family, but she can't conceive."
(noun = "conception")
conclusion = a summary / decision
"Have you come to any conclusion about the shortlist of candidates?"
"In conclusion, we think that this suggestion is excellent."
= the final part of something
"The conclusion of the Cold War coincided with his Presidency."
(verb = "to conclude")
concrete = tough building material
"The hotel is made of concrete."
"He had a concrete proposal to make."
condemn = completely disapprove of something
"The government's idea was condemned by health experts."
(noun = "condemnation")
= sentence someone to a particular punishment
"He was condemned to death."
cone = a triangular shape
"He bought an ice-cream cone for his children."
confine = limit your movement
"She was confined to bed for five days."
confiscate = take something away from a person
"If I see you using your phone in class, I'll confiscate it!"
conflict = argument / war
"A regional conflict means that this country is a little unsafe to visit."
conscious = awake
"She says she was conscious throughout the operation."
(opposite adj = "unconscious")
"I'm not conscious of any problems."
(noun = "consciousness")
consequence = result
"A negative consequence of his actions was that the company lost sales."
conspiracy = when people make secret plans to do something bad
"Do you think there's a conspiracy to get us all to buy more?"
(verb = "to conspire")
consumer = a person who buys or uses something
"We consume a lot of eggs in our country."
(noun = "consumerism"; adj = "consumerist")
contest = a competition for a prize or a position of power
"They held a swimming contest."
"Who's contesting the presidency of the USA?"
context = the setting for something
"You need to look at the election results in the context of the economic crisis."
= the words that come before or after something
"He took my words out of context."
contradict = say the opposite of someone else
"Please don't contradict me!"
(noun = "a contradiction")
contrast = when you compare two things to find differences
"He contrasted the two photos."
(noun = "a contrast")
contribute = give money or time to something to help others
"He contributed some money to charity."
(noun = "contribution")
controversial = a subject that causes lots of arguments
"Politics is a controversial subject!"
convention = a type of conference
"The Republican convention takes place next month."
= the usual way of doing something
"Try to follow the conventions of grammar and punctuation when you write."
(adj= "conventional" = following the usual habits / standards: ""He's quite a conventional person and hates doing things differently from other people.")
convict = find someone guilty of a crime
"The jury convicted him of murder."
(person = "a convict" = a prisoner)
conviction = when someone is found guilty of a crime
"He has several convictions for theft."
= strong belief
"It's my personal conviction that even a short holiday can recharge your batteries."
cope = deal with
"I really can't cope with all this work."
cord = thick string
"He used a cord to tie the bicycles to the back of the car."
cork = a small object that goes in the top of a wine bottle
"Can you take the cork out for me, please?"
(corkscrew = what you use to take the cork out)
correspond = write to someone
"They've corresponded for years."
(noun = "correspondence")
coupon = a piece of paper that entitles you to a discount
"She cut the coupons out of the newspaper."
court = a building where legal cases are heard
"He works in the criminal court."
= royal entourage
"She was an important person in the court of Louis X1V."
cozy = a warm feeling
"The room had a fireplace and was very cozy in winter."
crab = a type of animal that lives in the sea and which has a shell
"He made a delicious crab salad."
crack = when something splits
"There's a crack in the wall."
= an addictive drug
craft = something you make by hand
"Are you going to attend the Crafts fair?"
(adj = "crafty": a person who is manipulative or devious)
crap = rubbish (swear word)
"He's talking crap again."
crawl = when a baby learns to walk on his/her hands and knees
"She's learning to crawl!"
(also = freestyle swimming)
creature = an animal
"Don't hurt it! It's a living creature."
creek = a small river or inlet
"They navigated up the creek."
crime = an action against the law
"Has the crime rate gone up?"
(person / adj = "criminal")
crisis = a difficult period or situation / emergency
"The economic crisis has caused lots of problems."
(adj = "critical": "He's in a critical condition at hospital.")
crisp = opposite of soft
"She went to sleep in crisp cotton sheets."
= snack made of thin, fried potato
"Would you like some crisps with your drink?"
(adj = "crispy")
crow = a big black bird
"The crow flew over the car."
crucifix = an ornamental cross (sign of Christianity) on a wall or worn as jewellery
"She wore a crucifix as a necklace."
crude = unprocessed
"The price of crude oil has gone up."
"He made a crude shelter out of tree branches."
"She used some pretty crude languag."
crush = put a weight on something to flatten it
"Add some crushed garlic to the sauce."
= remove someone's hopes
"He was crushed by the news."
(have a crush on someone = fall in love with someone)
crust = the end part of bread
"The bread was old and the crust was hard to eat."
(adj = "crusty")
cub = a young lion, tiger or bear
"Those lion cubs are absolutely adorable!"
cuddle = when you hug and show affection
"Babies need to be cuddled."
"Give me a cuddle!"
cult = a religious group (or system) that isn't recognised by other religions
"His mother was worried that he'd go off and join a cult."
curse = when you call for bad luck to strike someone
"Some people believe in the power of curses."
= to swear
"He cursed under his breath." (also "cuss")
customise = adapt something to suit a person / purpose
"We can customise all our training proposals."
C Words at Advanced level
cadge = ask for something which you aren't entitled to
"He was always cadging cigarettes off the other prisoners."
callous = when you show a cruel nature
"He made some callous comments after the natural disaster which shocked everyone."
camouflage = special clothes that help make you less visible
"The soldiers wore camouflage on their exercise."
candid = honest
"The politician gave a few candid remarks off-camera."
cargo = the goods on a ship
"The ship was carrying a cargo of rice and flour."
carnage = when many people are killed
"The bomb caused carnage on the streets."
cenotaph = a memorial statue to soldiers who died in the war
"Every year the procession goes to the cenotaph."
chafe = when your skin is sore because of friction
"My boots were too tight and chafed my ankle."
(noun = "chafing")
chirp = the noise a bird makes
"In the morning I can hear the birds chirp."
chasm = a big gap / divide
"A chasm has opened between the rich and the poor in this country."
chuck = throw
"Can you chuck me over the remote control?"
= leave someone
"He chucked me for my best friend!"
chuckle = to laugh quietly
"I chuckled to myself as I watched him try to open the can."
chunk = a substantial part
"A chunk of plaster fell out of the wall."
circuit = a route between two points
"He's on the lecture circuit."
= electronic path
clamour = when many people call for something
"The crowd were clamoring for him to appear."
clamp = keep something immobile
"The traffic police put a clamp on his car because it was illegally parked."
clan = family group (often large or spread out)
"He's a member of a Scottish clan."
clasp = hold something tightly
"He clasped her hands in his."
(noun = "clasp": "I'll need some sort of clasp to attach my keys to my belt."
clemency = when you ask for leniency
"The prisoner awaiting execution asked for clemency, but the governor turned him down."
clench = tighten a part of your body
"He clenched his fists."
cliche = an overused stereotype (pronounced /clee-shay/)
"Don't use cliched expressions in your writing!"
cling = to attach yourself to someone
"She clung to the piece of wood, hoping that someone would rescue her from the sea."
clingy = a person who attaches themselves emotionally to another person
"Her son is still at a clingy age."
cloak = a type of coat that you fasten around your neck
"The magician wore a black cloak."
(cloakroom = a place where you can leave your coat at a theatre / party, etc)
clot = when blood (or another liquid) sticks together
"There were clots of blood on the floor."
= a stupid person
"You're such a clot at times!"
clout = to hit someone (pronounced /klowt/)
"She clouted him over the head."
"Do you have any clout in the company?"
cloying = too sweet or sticky (also of a person)
"I find this dessert a little cloying."
clump = a group of things stuck together
"A barn stood behind a clump of trees."
cluster = when things gather together
"The was a cluster of stars directly above the forest."
clutter = when there are too many things in a room or house
"You'll need to clear all that clutter away before the party!"
(verb = to "clutter up", opposite = "to declutter")
coal = carbon that's dug out from a mine
"She still has a coal fire!"
coax = try to persuade a person / animal to do something (but it takes a long time)
"She tried to coax him to eat a little soup."
coffin = a box where a dead body is put before burial or cremation
"The men lifted up the coffin and carried it to the cemetery."
coherent = when something makes sense or is logical
"Do you think their economic policy is coherent?"
(opposite adj = "incoherent")
collage = artwork created by putting together many small things
"A collage hung on the wall."
concede = admit that something is true
"He conceded that she had won the election."
(noun = "concession")
condolences = expression of sadness at a death
"Please accept our sincere condolences."
condone = approve of
"I don't condone any form of violence."
congregation = the audience at a church
"The congregation knelt down for the prayer."
(verb = "to congregate": to gather, but not necessarily in church)
conscience = your sense of right / wrong
"I told a lie and now I have a guilty conscience."
(adj = "conscientious")
console = show sympathy and try to help someone who is sad
"Relatives tried to console the man."
(noun = "consolation")
contagious = when a person can pass an illness to another person
"Keep away from me – I'm contagious!"
(noun = "contagion")
contemporary = up-to-date, modern
"Do you like contemporary art?"
= a person of your age
"My contemporaries are all working in business."
contempt = have no respect for something / someone
"He has shown complete contempt for the law."
convey = show, communicate
"Please let me convey my sincere apologies."
cordial = friendly (formal)
"The two men were on cordial terms."
cordon = tape or a rope to keep people out of an area
"Police have cordoned off the road."
core = centre of something
"The core issue is immigration."
(also "apple core")
corny = a cliched joke or film
"That is such a corny joke. Don't you have a better one?"
corpse = a dead body
"Police have found the corpse of an elderly woman."
cot = a bed for a baby
"We can provide cots in the rooms."
coup = when a group / army tries to overthrow the government
"There's been a coup attempt in the south of the country."
= when you manage to achieve something difficult
"It was a major coup to headhunt her."
courteous = polite (formal)
"You need to be courteous to the customers."
(noun = "courtesy", such as "courtesy car")
cower = to get low to the ground because you are frightened
"The dog cowered in fear as its owner began to shout."
coy = when you pretend to be modest
"She gave him a coy smile."
= when you don't want to give details
"He's always been coy about his educational achievements."
cram = to put lots of things into a small or restricted place
"Her flat was crammed with furniture and ornaments."
cramped = when there isn't enough room
"Her flat is a bit cramped."
crank = a person who's obsessed about something
"He's a health-food crank."
cranky = when you feel irritable
"This hot weather is making me a bit cranky!"
crass = showing insensitivity
"He made some crass comments at the party."
crease = showing a line where something was folded
"All my clothes got creased in the suitcase."
creep = walk very slowly and quietly
"She crept down the stairs, trying not to wake her parents."
creep = a person who is very unpleasant
"Her new boss is such a creep." ("give someone the creeps")
cremation = when a dead person is burned (rather than buried)
"He requested a cremation."
(verb = "to cremate")
crest = the top of something like a mountain or wave
"When we got to the crest of the hill, we had a wonderful view."
= feathers on the top of a bird's head
"The male of the species has a wonderful red crest."
cringe = bend your body to show fear
"He raised his hand and she cringed in fear."
= when you feel uncomfortable by what someone says
"I hate it when he tells those sort of jokes. They really make me cringe."
crony = a friend of someone in power
"He's got a lot of cronies in government."
(noun = "cronyism")
crumble = to disintegrate into small pieces
"The house was crumbling away."
= a type of English fruit dessert with a topping made of flour, butter and sugar
"There's apple crumble for dessert."
crumpled = when there are a lot of creases in something (like paper or material)
"His linen suit was crumpled at the end of the day."
crutch = something that you use to help you walk after an injury
"He was on crutches after the operation."
= something you use to help you with something difficult
"He uses alcohol as a type of social crutch."
cull = kill a certain number of animals to keep numbers down or to avoid illness
"The annual badger cull is very controversial.
cushy = easy, comfortable thing that you get because you're lucky (typically British)
"He's got a really cushy job!"
crypt = a small, dark room in the basement of a church
"The crypt was quite a scary place."
cryptic = when a message or crossword clue is deliberately unclear and not obvious
"He left a rather cryptic message on my voicemail. I have no idea what he wants!"
curb = to limit / prevent
"He curbed his impulse to laugh."
curt = when you reply in a short, rude way
"The shop assistant was very curt with me. I don't think I'll go back there again."
cynical = when you don't believe that people are good
"She's very cynical about politicians!"
= only concerned with your own interests
"He cynically promised them that he would improve services if he was elected."
(person = "cynic")
English Vocabulary – F Words
Here's a list of more than 150 "F words" (words starting with the letter "f") listed in alphabetical order and by level. Check your understanding of the F words at each level before you move to the F words at the next level.
F words at Elementary level
face (eyes, nose and mouth)
"He's got a kind face."
Also "to face" = to look at directly
"My bed faces the wall."
factory = a place where things are made
"He works in a leather factory."
fair (adv = fairly; noun = fairness)
= just / equal (opposite = unfair)
"It isn't fair if he always chooses first."
= light colour
"I have fair hair."
family = your relatives
"How many people are in your family?"
famous = when many people know you
"He's a famous singer."
fan = when you support and follow a person or team
"There are lots of football fans in the town tonight."
also "fanatic" = obsesses
"He's a football fanatic."
fantastic = very good, excellent
"We had a fantastic meal last night."
far = a long way
"How far is the hotel from the beach?"
farm = where animals / plants are produced for food
(farmer = person who works on a farm / owns a farm)
"She has a small farm in the north of the country."
fashion = when something is popular (adj = fashionable)
"Do you follow fashion?"
fast = quick
"He can run fast."
fat = opposite of thin
"If you eat too much sugar, you will get fat."
father = male parent
"What does your father do?"
favourite (favorite – US spelling)= preferred
"What's your favourite ice-cream?"
few = not many
"I have a few paintings in my house."
film = what you can see at the cinema
"I love her films."
final = the last
"This is the final book in the series."
find = locate something which was lost
"I can't find my glasses!"
fine = good
"How are you?" "Fine thanks!"
= not thick
"She has very fine hair."
finish = end
"I finish work at 6pm."
first = before others
"The first thing you must do is register for the exam."
fish = animal that lives in the sea
"You should eat fish at least three times a week."
five = 5 (fifty = 50)
"You can borrow five books a week from the library."
flat = level
"This part of the country is very flat."
"She lives in a flat in London."
floor = ground
"Don't leave your bag on the floor. It will get dirty."
= a level of a building
"They live on the first floor of a block of flats."
flower = colourful plants that grow in your garden
"Her garden is full of flowers."
fly = move through the air ("flight" = an aeroplane journey)
"Are you flying to Paris or taking the train?"
= a small insect
"I hate flies – they're so dirty!"
follow = go after someone / something
"Please follow me!"
follower = someone who follows
"How many followers do you have on Twitter?"
food = what you eat to live
"I love Italian food."
foot = you walk on this (plural = feet)
"My foot hurts after all that walking!"
(on foot = travel by walking)
football = a very popular sport
"Who's your favourite football team?"
for = preposition
"What are we having for lunch?"
"I worked there for five years."
"This present is for you."
forest = a place with lots of trees
"Canada has some beautiful forests."
forget = opposite of remember
"Sorry, but I've forgotten your name."
four = 4 (forty = 40)
"They have four children."
free = you don't need money to get it
"This website is completely free!"
= when you have personal liberty
"You are free to do what you want."(Noun = freedom)
fridge = a machine to keep food cold
"Is there anything in the fridge for dinner?"
friend = a person you are close to
"He's my best friend."
(Adj = friendly; noun = friendship; verb "to friend someone" ie on Facebook)
from = a preposition
"Where are you from?"
"I got this from a small shop."
front = the leading side (opposite = back)
"My house is in front of the school."
fruit = food like apples, bananas, etc
"You should eat fruit every day."
furniture = objects like chairs, tables, etc that you have in your house
"He prefers modern furniture."
fun = enjoyable
"We had a lot of fun on holiday."
Also "funny" = comical
"He's a funny man."
future = tomorrow and on
"What do you want to do in the future?"
F words at Pre-intermediate level
fact = something which is true
"It's a fact that her boss steals all her ideas."
"In fact, she's finding it difficult to work for him."
fabulous (also "fab") = excellent
"She's got a fabulous new job."
fail = not succeed
"I failed my driving test."
fall = drop from a height
"The apple fell from the tree."
fall down = when you lose balance from a height
"He fell down the stairs."
fall over = when you lose balance when you walk
"She fell over and hurt her foot."
familiar = when something is known to you
"Her face is familiar, but I can't remember her name."
fancy = like
"Do you fancy doing anything this weekend?"
= a little special
"He has a fancy new car."
fare = how much you pay to travel on public transport
"Have you got money for your bus fare?"
fasten = do up / make secure
"Please fasten your seatbelt."
fatal = leading to death
"There was a fatal accident here last week."
fault = mistake
"The camera doesn't work. It's my fault. I broke it!"
(adj = faulty)
favour = when you do something for another person
"Can you do me a favour and get some milk on the way home?"
fear = a feeling when you are frightened
"He has a fear of heights."
feature = aspect
"My new phone has got some great new features."
feel = have a feeling / sensation
"I feel a bit sad today."
feel like = want
"Do you feel like going out tonight?"
feelings = emotions
"You hurt her feelings when you told everyone that she wasn't an easy person to get on with."
fence = made of metal or wood to enclose something like a field or a garden
"You should put a fence around your garden to stop dogs coming in!"
festival = celebration (of music, film, culture, etc)
"Do you ever go to music festivals?"
fiction = when something isn't factual (ie a work of fiction)
"Do you enjoy reading fiction?"
field = an open space in a farm
"What grows in this field?"
fight = oppose someone
"He keeps getting into fights at school."
"She fought her father for control of the company."
file = where you store information
"The details are in the file on my desk." (also a file on a computer)
fill = complete
"Can you fill the car with petrol?" (also "fill in a form")
(adj = full: "After that huge dinner I'm completely full!")
finance = everything to do with money
"She works in finance."
(adj = financial)
finger = you have these on your hand
"I broke my little finger."
fire = when something is so hot it burns
"We lit a fire to keep warm."
(adj = fiery)
Also "fireman" (a person who puts out a fire)
"fire station" = a place where "fire engines" (big lorries with water) are located
firm = solid, opposite of "soft"
"It's better for your back to sleep on a firm mattress."
"He works for a small firm of builders."
fit = be healthy and strong
"Although he's quite old, he's very fit."
= be the right size
"These jeans don't fit me any more."
fix = repair
"Can you fix this computer?"
flag = the symbol of a country
"The Stars and Stripes is the flag of the USA."
flame = the burning part of a fire
"Stand away from the fire! The flames are getting bigger!"
flavour = taste
"I prefer strawberry flavour ice-cream."
flexible = not rigid – will change
"I work flexible hours."
fluent = speak without pausing
"She's fluent in Spanish."
flute = musical instrument (made of metal) that you play by blowing air through it
"She learned to play the flute at school."
focus = something which is important or which you concentrate on
"I want to focus on my studies this year."
"The baby was the focus of attention in the room."
folder = a paper or plastic file to store paper / digital information
"There were lots of brown paper folders on his desk."
foreign = from another country
"He says he doesn't like foreign food!"
(foreigner = noun)
forgive = to pardon someone
"I hope you'll forgive me."
fork = what you use to eat (solid) food
"Use a knife and fork to eat your dinner."
form = piece of paper you need to complete / fill
"Please fill in the application form."
fort = a secure place that an army defends
"Have you visited the old fort? It's very interesting!"
fortunate = lucky
"You're very fortunate to have such a great job!"
forward = preposition
"If you move forward a little bit you can see the show better."
frame = wood or metal around a picture
"I'm going to buy a photo frame for this photo."
freeze = make into ice
"If you freeze this, you can eat it later next week."
(adj = freezing; noun = freezer)
fresh = new / clean
"I need some fresh air."
= not processed
"Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit."
frequent = often
"We made frequent stops on our journey."
(adv = "frequently")
fry = cook in oil
"It only takes a minute to fry fish."
furious = very angry
"She was furious with her daughter for failing the exam."
F words at Intermediate level
fabric = material
"What fabric is this shirt? It feels like silk."
factor = element / cause
"A big factor in his success is his sense of humour."
faint = lose consciousness
"It was so hot that several people fainted."
(also adj = "I feel a bit faint.")
faith = belief
"She has a strong faith in God."
(Also "faithful" = to not betray a person.)
fake = not real
"My watch isn't really a Rolex. It's a fake."
false = wrong
"That information is completely false."
famine = when food production fails and people starve
"The last famine killed millions of people."
fascinating = very interesting
"He told us a fascinating story."
fate = destiny
"Do you believe in fate?"
feasible = possible
"I don't think it's feasible to get there in under an hour."
feast = when there's a lot of very good food
"She prepared a feast for us."
fee = cost of a professional service
"How much are the lawyer's fees?"
feed = to provide food for people or animals
"Can you feed my cats for me when I'm on holiday?"
feminine = clothes, behaviour, etc which are considered particularly "female"
"She likes wearing very feminine dresses."
ferry = a boat which transports people and cars
"You can take a ferry from Italy to Greece."
fetch = go to a place to take something, then bring it back
"Could you fetch me a glass of water, please?"
(fetching = attractive, often used in a humorous way)
fierce = ready to attack
"A very fierce dog lives next door to us."
figure = shape / drawing
"If you look at figure 6 you can see the trend."
"He's an important figure in the world of politics."
= amount / numbers
"The sales figures are very good this month."
fist = when you close your hand, bending your fingers to fight someone
"He put his fists up to defend his face."
(also "tight-fisted" = to be mean and never pay for things)
fizz = champagne
"I think we need some fizz to celebrate!"
(adj = fizzy)
flash = when something happens very quickly
"There was a flash of lightning."
flirt = to talk in a particular way with someone to show you like them
"Stop flirting with the barman!"
flow = when something moves easily or quickly
"There was a constant flow of people going into the shop."
flour = a powder made from wheat which we use to make bread
"You can use white flour or brown flour in this recipe."
fluid = not static but fast-moving
"The situation is very fluid and we don't know what will happen next."
fog = when there's white cloud and you can't see
"It's impossible to drive when there's too much fog."
(Adj = foggy)
fold = make paper / clothes, etc into a neat shape
"I've folded your shirts and put them away."
fool = stupid person
"Don't be such a fool!"
(adj = foolish)
forbid = not allow
"He forbids his children from going out in the evening."
force = strength
"Can you feel the force of the wind? It's really strong."
= to use strength to do something
"He forced open the door."
(adj = forceful)
fortune = a lot of money
(spend a fortune / worth a fortune)
"We spent a fortune on our holiday."
foster = look after for a short time
"They used to foster children."
foul = disgusting
"There's a foul smell coming from the kitchen."
fox = a wild animal, a little like a dog
"A fox keeps attacking his chickens."
fragile = very delicate
"Be careful with these glasses. They're fragile."
frantic = when you feel desperate / worried about something
"She was so frantic with worry that she called him about 100 times."
fraud = a type of crime when you obtain something by saying something false
"He was convicted of fraud."
friction = when two things (or people) move against each other
"There's a little bit of friction between the two brothers."
frighten = make someone afraid
"She was frightened by the storm."
frog = an amphibian (animal) which lives on land and in water
"I don't eat frog's legs."
frost = when there's white on the ground from the previous (freezing) night
"Frost makes the grass look so pretty!"
(adj = frosty)
frustrating = the feeling you have when you want to do something, but you can't
"I can't get the TV to work. It's so frustrating!"
fuck (swear word)
= to have sex / often used as a swear word to show strong emotion such as anger or surprise.
"Fucking hell! The printer's broken again!"
"She's fucking angry about the decision."
not give a fuck = not care
"I don't give a fuck what he says!"
fuck all = nothing
"He does fuck all around the house."
fuck off / eff off = to tell someone to go away
"Why don't you just fuck off?" (also "eff off" = "He told her to eff off.")
fucker = when you're angry about something
"Fucker! I can't get this lid off!"
fucked = when a situation is hopeless
"If France score again, we're fucked!"
Be very careful when you swear in English. Don't do it in formal or polite situations. Remember: another name for these particular F words is "F-bomb" because they can have a negative effect!
fund = a sum of money for a particular purpose
"He's funding his son's studies."
"We want to set up a fund to help him buy a house in the future."
fussy = only like a few things
"He's such a fussy eater and refuses to eat vegetables."
F words at Advanced level
fad = temporary fashion / obsession
"I keep reading about people not eating carbs… I think it's a bit of a fad."
fade = become less intense (colour / pain / light)
"The pain will fade after a few hours."
fag = slang for cigarette (British English)
"I'm going to take a fag-break."
fanny = slang for female genitals (British English)
Also = to waste time
"Stop fannying about and help me with dinner!"
farce = a situation which becomes stupid, often because it wasn't organised
"I went to the public meeting, but it was a complete farce. None of the speakers turned up."
feeble = weak
"He came up with a feeble excuse about why he was late home."
ferocious = very fierce
"They had a ferocious argument about money."
fester = when something is left "unresolved" and it becomes worse
"If you don't talk about the problem with him, those bad feelings will just fester."
fib = a small lie
"I had to tell a few fibs at the bank today."
fickle = when you change your opinion or loyalties frequently
"She's quite nice but I find her a bit fickle."
fidget = move a lot because you're uncomfortable
"Please stop fidgeting. I can't concentrate!"
flask = container for liquid (that you take when you go somewhere)
"When they go on a picnic they take sandwiches and a flask of tea."
flee = escape
"It's terrible reading about all these people fleeing repressive regimes."
flesh = the "meat" of a person or animal
"He appears much smaller when you see him in the flesh."
flimsy = not very strong or durable
"You should wear more than a flimsy t-shirt if you're going hiking."
flippant = when you say something silly or careless in a serious situation
"He made a couple of flippant remarks in the meeting which the boss didn't like."
float = rest on the surface of the water
"It's a shame about all those plastic bottles floating on the sea."
flock = group of birds
"We saw a huge flock of seagulls at the beach today."
flop = fall because of tiredness
"He came in through the door and flopped down onto the sofa."
= a failure
"The film was a flop."
flip-flops = beach sandals, with a plastic thong
fluke = something that happens though luck
"That goal was such a fluke!"
former = previous
"His former wife remarried a millionaire."
formula = a method for doing something (also scientific formula)
"He's got a great formula for selling books."
forthcoming = coming soon
"In his forthcoming film, he plays a retired detective."
frail = not strong (because a person is old)
"My grandmother is a little frail now."
frenetic = very busy
"She always complains about her frenetic pace of life."
(noun = frenzy)
frivolous = shallow, not serious
"Some people say that her hobbies are just a frivolous waste of time."
frugal = not spending much money
"They're very frugal with their money and never go on holiday."
frumpy = old-fashioned
"I wish she wouldn't wear such frumpy clothes."
fumes = gases (with a bad odour)
"I hate sitting in traffic jams, breathing in all the car fumes."
English Vocabulary – J Words
Here's a list of more than 120 "J Words" (words starting with the letter J) in level of difficulty. Learn the J Words at Elementary level before going on to the J Words at Pre-intermediate, Intermediate and Advanced level.
J Words at Elementary level
jacket = a short coat you can wear outside, or worn with a pair of trousers as a suit
"He always wears a leather jacket."
jam = sweet paste made from fruit and sugar
"I eat toast and jam for breakfast."
January = the first month of the year
"Do you celebrate on January 1st?"
jeans = casual trousers made from denim
"Can you wear jeans to work?"
jet = a fast aeroplane / military plane
"I heard a jet fly over the valley."
job = what you do for work
"Have you got a job?"
"What's your job?"
jog = run for fitness
"I like jogging in the park."
join = become a member
"I've joined the Film Club."
= put things together
"You need to join these two pieces of wood."
joke = a funny story
"He told a great joke."
= say something that isn't true
"I'm joking! I'm not really moving!"
journey = travel
"How long is your journey into work each day?"
juice = the liquid of a fruit
"Orange juice is good for you."
July = the seventh month in the year
"Do you go on holiday in July?"
jump = go from sitting to standing, or from standing into the air
"She jumped up from her chair."
June = the sixth month of the year
"We have lovely weather in June."
jungle = a tropical forest
"They got lost in the jungle."
just = very recently
"He's just bought a car."
= fair / equal
"Do you think his punishment was just?"
"This shirt is just what I wanted. Thank you!"
"I just wanted to tell you about the meeting…"
J Words at Pre-Intermediate level
jaguar = a large cat that lives in the forests of Central and South America
"They were delighted when they spotted a jaguar."
jail = another word for "prison"
"He went to jail for killing his wife."
jar = a glass container (often for food or liquid)
"Can you buy two jars of marmalade for me, please?"
jazz = a type of music with a syncopated rhythm
"Who do you think is the best jazz guitarist?"
jealous = envious of someone else
"Her brother is really jealous of her success."
= when you're suspicious of your partner
"Her boyfriend is really jealous and possessive."
jeep = a type of heavy car / military car
"You don't need a jeep if you live in the city."
jelly = a thick, clear food made from boiled fruit and sugar
"Her children hate jelly and ice-cream!"
Jesus! = a swear word when you want to show surprise or irritation
"Jesus! Don't scare me like that!"
Jewish = someone / something belonging to the Jewish religion
"In this area you can find lots of Jewish shops and businesses."
(person = "Jew")
jewellery = precious stones or necklaces, rings, bracelets, etc ("jewelry" in American English)
"Don't wear so much jewellery when you go out!"
(noun = "jewel"; person / shop = "jeweller")
jigsaw = a type of puzzle where you must put the pieces together
"They've got a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle to do on holiday."
journal = personal diary
"Do you keep a journal?"
= academic or specialist magazine
"My essay will be published in a scientific journal."
journalist = a person who works for a newspaper or magazine (or TV news)
"How much training do you need to become a journalist?"
joy = happiness
"They were filled with joy when their child was born."
(adj = "joyful")
judo = a martial art where you throw your opponent to the ground
"You need to be very strong to be good at judo."
jumper = another word for "sweater" or "pullover"
"Don't wash that jumper in hot water."
junction = where two roads meet
"At the junction turn left."
junior = opposite of senior
"He's a junior manager in the company."
= young (especially a school for young children / students)
"My children are still at junior school."
J Words at Intermediate level
J-cloth = a type of cloth used in household cleaning
"You can get this clean with a J-cloth and some bleach."
jack = a tool to lift heavy objects (such as cars) so you can get underneath
"The mechanic used a jack to change the tyre."
= a card in a pack of cards (between 10 and the Queen)
jackpot = the biggest prize in a lottery or contest
"Have you ever won the jackpot at bingo?"
(Also "hit the jackpot" = have great success)
jacuzzi = large bath with water jets
"There's a jacuzzi at the B&B where we're staying."
jade = precious green stone
"Her mother bought her a gorgeous jade bracelet."
jaw = (pronounced /joor/) the bone in your face under your mouth
"He broke his jaw in a fight."
janitor = caretaker of a building (American English)
"The janitor forgot to lock the door."
jaywalk = walk or cross the road dangerously (American English)
"It's illegal to jaywalk in some cities."
jerk = move suddenly
"She jerked her head upwards."
= stupid person
"Don't be such a jerk!"
jersey = type of soft material often used to make thin jumpers / sports clothes
"My son needs a new rugby jersey this year."
jet lag = when your body doesn't adapt to a new timezone and you feel tired at strange times
"It can take a few days for the jet lag to disappear."
jetty = a pier where you can moor a boat
"Be careful when you walk off the boat onto the jetty!"
jihad = holy war (often associated with radical Islam)
"A new group has declared jihad on Europe."
jingle = a sound that metal things make when they touch each other
"His coins jingled in his pocket."
= a tune or slogan used in advertising
"I hate their new jingle. It's so stupid!"
jockey = the person who rides a horse in a race
"The jockey gave an interview after his horse won."
joint = where two things meet (also in your body)
"She's damaged her knee joint with all that running."
= a cut of meat
"They often have a joint of beef for Sunday lunch."
= a marijuana cigarette
jolly = happy (quite old-fashioned)
"He's quite a jolly person and is always smiling or telling jokes."
jubilee = a celebration (often for 50 years)
"Did you go to the Queen's Jubilee?"
judge = decide if something is good or not
"It's difficult to judge a competition when everyone is so good."
= lawyer who decides the punishment for a criminal
"The judge called the court to order."
(noun = "judgment")
jug = a container for liquid
"There was a jug of water on the table."
juggle = keep two or more balls in the air
"The street performers were juggling."
(person = "juggler")
= do two or more things at once
"It's hard to juggle work and home life."
jujitsu = a martial art
jukebox = a machine where you put coins in to hear music
"You can see old-fashioned jukeboxes in the music museum."
jumble = when things are mixed up untidily
"There was a jumble of clothes on the bed."
jumble up = mix up
"I'm always jumbling up their names!"
(Also "jumble sale" = when you can buy second hand objects like clothes, books etc at a fair)
jumbo = something which is very large
"Do these crisps come in a jumbo size?"
(Also "jumbo jet")
jumpy = when you are nervous and can't act in a calm way
"Why are you so jumpy? Just relax and you'll be fine in the interview!"
junk = something which has no use or value and which you can throw away
"How come we've collected so much junk?"
(Also "junk yard", "junk shop")
junkie = a heroin addict
"The park is full of junkies at night."
junta = a military group that rules a country after a coup
"Life was terrible under the junta."
jury = 12 people who decide if someone is guilty of a crime
"The jury returned a guilty verdict."
justice = fair treatment (often in law)
"I want to see that justice is done and that the murderer goes to jail."
(opposite noun = "injustice")
justify = give a reason for something
"How can you justify spending all that money on a car!"
(adj = "justifiable")
juvenile = under the age of 18
"He had to go to the juvenile court."
"Stop being so juvenile!"
J Words at Advanced level
jab = poke someone with a sharp object
"He jabbed me with his elbow."
= a sharp punch
"The two boxers circled one another and threw a few jabs."
jabber = talk quickly, but not make much sense
"The children were jabbering together."
jackal = a wild dog often found in Africa
"Have you read the book, 'The Day of the Jackal'?"
jackass = a donkey / stupid person
"Don't be such a jackass!"
jackdaw = a type of crow (bird)
"There's a pair of jackdaws in my garden."
jaded = when you no longer feel excited or enthusiastic about something
"After spending so much of her time travelling for work, she's a bit jaded about hotels."
= when you have a negative view of things
"She has a jaded view of men after all her romantic disappointments."
jagged = with sharp edges
"Be careful if you walk barefoot down there. There are lots of jagged stones and rocks."
jammy = lucky (especially when it's something unlikely)
"He got a great job out of school as a cameraman. He's always been jammy!"
jangle = a harsh metallic noise
"That alarm clock has a terrible jangle."
jape = a practical joke (old-fashioned)
"Her books are full of jolly japes at boarding school."
jar = to clash or be discordant
"Her outfit jarred with her shoes."
= to vibrate, shake or shock
"The earthquake jarred everyone awake."
jaundice = another word for "hepatitis"
"He contracted jaundice from an infection."
(adj = "jaundiced": cynical "He has a rather jaundiced view of the company after his experience working there.")
jaunt = a short journey (for pleasure)
"Dave is away on one of his jaunts around Spain."
jaunty = cheerful
"He wore his hat at a jaunty angle."
java = coffee (American English)
"I can't work in the morning without my cup of java."
jay = a type of crow, with blue tail feathers
jeer = mock loudly
"When they lost the match, the other team's fans jeered them off the pitch."
jemmy / jimmy = a crowbar used to open a door
"The burglars used a jemmy to get in."
jeopardy = be in danger of loss or failure
"Your actions have put the project in jeopardy."
(verb = "to jeopardise")
jerkin = a sleeveless leather jacket
"He wore a jerkin over his shirt."
jerry can = a metal container for petrol or water
"They filled up a jerry can with water before their trip into the desert."
jest = joke
"Her remarks were made in jest – don't take her seriously."
jesuit = a type of Catholic priest
"He was educated by jesuits."
jettison = throw something off a plane or ship to make it lighter
"The cargo ship had to jettison its load during the storm."
= discard someone or something
"They jettisoned his ideas in the meeting."
jezebel = an immoral or scheming woman (old-fashioned)
"Be careful in your dealings with Susan. She has a reputation for being a bit of a jezebel."
jib = a triangular sail (nautical term)
= to be unwilling to do something
"My boss jibs at paying for overtime."
jibe = an insult or mean remark
"He always makes cheap jibes to try to make people laugh."
jiffy = very soon
"I'll be there in a jiffy!"
(Also "jiffy bag" = padded envelope)
jig = type of fast, folk dance
"The band played a succession of Irish jigs."
jiggle = move quickly (up and down or from side to side)
"He jiggled the child on his knee."
jilt = reject / leave someone you used to love
"The bride was jilted at the altar."
jim-jams = pyjamas (a "babyish" or cute word)
"Get into your jim-jams and I'll read you a story."
jingoism = aggressive or warlike nationalism
"Their party's policies are verging on jingoism."
(high) jinks = playful, boisterous activity
"There were the usual high jinks at the end of term party."
jinx = bring bad luck
"Don't say your new venture will be successful – you might jinx it!"
jittery = nervous
"After the car accident she felt jittery every time she got in a car."
jive = type of fast 1940s / 1950s dance for rock and roll and swing music
jock = an athlete at school / university (American English)
"He was a typical jock at school."
= short form of disc jockey (DJ)
= insult term for a Scottish man (British English)
jocular = in a joking mood
"Watch out for Harry. He's in a jocular mood today."
jodhpurs = a type of trousers you wear for horse-riding
"He looked very handsome in his jacket and jodhpurs."
joey = a baby kangaroo
"The joey stays in his mother's pouch."
johnny = a man with a particular job (old-fashioned)
"The IT johnny told me my computer was broken."
= a condom (British slang)
jolt = a sudden, rough movement
"Four people tried to push the car out of the mud, and it suddenly jolted forwards."
josh = joke with someone
"The two brothers often josh around with each other."
joss-stick = a stick of incense
"His room stinks of joss-sticks!"
jostle = push against other people
"The boys jostled in the crowd, trying to get a better view."
jot = write down some information quickly
"She jotted down her thoughts on a scrap piece of paper."
(Also "jotting pad")
= a small amount
"She doesn't care a jot about what other people think."
joust = a medieval game where two horsemen use lances
"The town festival also features a jousting contest."
jovial = cheerful, happy (especially among other people)
"Robert is always an exceptionally jovial host."
jowl = when the lower part of your cheek becomes heavy and starts to fall
"As he got older, he developed jowls in his cheeks."
jubilant = happy because you have achieved something
"The supporters were jubilant after their victory."
jugular = in the throat
"The dog went for the jugular vein."
juju = magical power or spirit (often in an amulet, worshipped in some African religions)
"Is it possible to take photos of a juju ritual?"
junket = a trip which has been paid for by the public
"In her job she gets to go on lots of junkets."
jurisdiction = the right to make legal decisions
"The Board doesn't have any jurisdiction over the hiring process in overseas branches."
"We're under the British tax jurisdiction."
jut = stick / protrude outwards
"When she juts her chin forwards like that you know she's being stubborn."
jute = tough fibre used to make ropes, mats and bags
"We filled a couple of jute bags with nuts."
juxtapose = put things next to each other to create a contrast
"If you juxtapose his earlier work with his later work, you can see the difference."
English Vocabulary – L Words
Here's a list of 150 "L words" (words starting with the letter "L") listed in alphabetical order and by level. Check your understanding of the L words at each level before you move to the L words at the next level.
L Words at Elementary level
lady = another (more formal) word for a woman (plural "ladies")
"Ladies and Gentlemen! May I have your attention?"
lamb = baby sheep
"At this time of the year, there are lots of lambs in the field."
= the meat of a lamb
"Do they eat lamb at Easter?"
land = a part of the earth that you can grow vegetables on, or build a house on
"How much land does your family have?"
to land = when a plane touches the ground at the end of the flight
"What time do you land?"
language = the name of the thing you speak
"English is a world language."
large = big
"They have a large garden."
late = opposite of early
"It's a bit late. I should go now."
(Also "later": "I went home. Later, I had dinner."
laugh = how you find something funny
"He told a joke and she laughed."
lazy = opposite of active
"He's so lazy! He never takes any exercise."
leaf = a green part of a tree, plant or flower (plural "leaves")
"Make sure your cat doesn't eat the leaves of this plant. It's poisonous!"
learn = know something new
"I learned how to cook Thai food last year."
leave = go from a place
"What time did you leave the party last night?"
left = the opposite side of "right"
"Do you write with your left hand or your right hand?"
"We don't have any bread left."
leg = you have two of these to help you walk
"He fell over and hurt his leg."
lemon = a yellow, citrus fruit
"Would you like lemon sorbet for dessert?"
less = opposite of "more"
"She has less money than her brother."
lesson = something that you learn (often from a teacher at school)
"My son needs extra Maths lessons."
let = allow
"Do your parents let you stay out late at night?"
letter = you write this on paper and send it in an envelope to a person or organisation
"I received a letter from my aunt yesterday. She lives in America and doesn't use email."
library = a place where you can borrow books
"You can borrow four books a week from this library."
lie = when you make your body flat so you can sleep
"I'm going to lie down. I feel very tired."
= when you say something which isn't true
"I hate it when people lie to me!"
life = the time you are alive
"He has a really nice life. He has a great job and family and enough money to enjoy himself."
light = opposite of "dark"
"It gets light at about 7am."
= opposite of "heavy"
"My bag is light so I can carry it easily."
(noun = "a light": "We need a new light outside the front door.")
like = when something makes you happy
"Do you like ice-cream?"
= when something is similar
"He's like his father. They're both tall and slim."
(Also "look like" = "resemble")
lime = a small green citrus fruit
"How many limes do you need to make a mojito cocktail?"
line = a connection between two points
"Draw a line under the picture."
= form a queue
"A line of trees stood between the house and the road."
(verb = "to line")
lion = a big cat that lives in Africa
"If you see a lion, stay in your jeep!"
listen = hear someone or something with attention
"Please listen to me for a moment."
litre = a measure for liquid
"How much does a litre of petrol cost?"
little = small
"She has a little boy who's very sweet."
a little = not very much
"I only have a little money."
live = where you have a house (pronounced /li_v/)
"Where do you live?"
= in concert, not recorded (pronounced /lie – v/)
"I heard the live version of their song. It's great!"
living room = the room of your house where you watch TV, read, sit with family and friends, etc
"Have you seen her living room? It's beautiful!"
long = opposite of "short"
"She had a long conversation with her sister."
= when you ask about time
"How long does it take to get to London on the train?"
look = use your eyes to see
"Look at that man over there!"
lorry = something to transport goods
"My brother is a lorry driver."
lose = no longer have because you put or left it somewhere
"Oh no! I've lost my keys!"
(noun = "a loss")
a lot / lots = many
"They have a lot of friends."
love = to have very strong feelings for someone or something
"I love going dancing!"
lovely = very nice, beautiful
"Her house is lovely!"
low = opposite of "high"
"They have an old house with low ceilings."
luck = good fortune
"Good luck for your exam tomorrow!"
(adj = "lucky"; opposite adj = "unlucky")
lunch = the meal you eat in the middle of the day
"What do you normally have for lunch?"
L Words at Pre-intermediate level
lab = laboratory (where you do scientific or medical research)
"He works in a blood testing lab."
label = small piece of paper / material that gives you more information about the product
"What does the label say for the washing instructions?"
lack = when you don't have something that you need
"There's a lack of doctors in my country."
(verb = "to lack")
lake = an area of water inland
"We went swimming in the lake."
lane = a very small road, either in a town or the countryside
"She lives down the lane between the church and the farm."
laser = something that generates intense heat
"He's having laser surgery on his knee tomorrow."
last = final
"The last time I saw him was 3 years ago."
(Also "At last!" = "Finally!")
= to "live" for a period of time
"His good mood lasted for ten minutes, then he became angry again."
launch = start a new project / product
"He launched a new company last year."
(noun = "a launch")
law = a rule / regulation in your country
"It's the law that you must drive on the right in Europe."
(person = "lawyer")
(Also "break the law", "against the law")
lead = go first
"Please lead the way!"
= to be responsible for other people
"She leads a team of scientists."
leather = dry skin of an animal used in clothes or shoes
"He wore an old leather jacket and jeans."
legal = when something is allowed by the law
"Is it legal to drive under the age of 18 in your country?"
(opposite adjective = "illegal")
lend = to give someone something, but it is returned (opposite = "to borrow")
"Can you lend me some money for lunch, please?"
level (noun) = on a particular position of a scale
"What level is your English?"
(adj) = flat surface
"Be careful! The ground isn't level here."
(verb) = make something flat
lid = the top of a pen or jar to keep the liquid in
"Can you put the lid back on the jam, please?"
(Also "eyelid" = the part of your eye that closes when you sleep)
lifestyle = the type of life you have
"She has a wonderful lifestyle. She can travel whenever she wants!"
lift = something that you get in to when you go to a higher floor in a building
"Shall we take the stairs or the lift?"
= (verb) make something higher
"He lifted his child up so she could see the fireworks better."
give someone a lift = drive someone to a place
"Would you like a lift to the station?"
limit = the end / extent of something
"What's the speed limit on the motorway?"
"I limit myself to one chocolate biscuit a day!"
link = when two or more things are connected
"Do you think there's a link between poverty and crime?"
"Police have linked him to the crime."
lip = the two outer parts of your mouth
"I've got a cut on my lip."
(Also "lipstick"= red makeup; lipsalve = cream you put on your lips when it's cold outside)
liquid = something like water – not solid
"There was a strange liquid in the bottom of the glass."
list = a number of things that you write down
"We need to make a shopping list for the supermarket."
litter = when people throw things on the street or countryside (and not in a bin)
"There's so much litter on this beach!"
(verb = "to litter")
= the group of puppies or kittens
"My dog had a litter of six gorgeous puppies!"
loaf = the square or rectangle of bread (that you can cut into slices)
"How much does a loaf of bread cost at the supermarket?"
local = from your area
"There are lots of things to do in the local area."
(noun = "locality")
lock = something you put on a door or window to protect your house / car. You need a key to open it.
"They have two locks on their door."
(verb = "to lock")
locker = a cupboard which you can lock and where you can put things at school or in the gym
"I put my clothes in the locker."
loft = a room under the roof of your house (also "attic")
"We put all our old suitcases in the loft."
lonely = when you feel bad because you don't have people around you
"He felt very lonely after his wife died and his children moved away."
loose = not tight
"She wore a pair of loose trousers."
loud = opposite of "quiet"
"There was a loud noise and we all looked around."
loyal = when you are "faithful" to friends, family or country
"He's a loyal member of our team."
(opposite adj = "disloyal"; noun = "loyalty")
lung = the two air sacks in your body that allow you to breathe
"He smoked for years and got lung cancer."
L Words at Intermediate level
labour = work hard
"They laboured hard under the bright sun."
= political movement to support workers' rights
"The Labour party believe in fairer work contracts."
= the period of time it takes for a woman to give birth
"She's in labour right now."
ladder = something made of wood or metal to help you get to a high place
"You'll need a ladder to paint the ceiling."
lagoon = part of the sea separated from the rest of the sea by sand or coral
"Every day we swam in a beautiful lagoon when we went on holiday to the Caribbean."
lap = the part of your body which is formed when you sit down
"My cat loves to sit in my lap!"
= a circuit of a track
"I did 20 laps for football practice."
lapel (pronounced /la – pel/) = the part of your jacket or shirt under your neck that faces to the left or right
"Can you pin this badge to your lapel? That way people can see who you are."
lapse = a moment when you lose concentration, memory or judgement
"I had a lapse of concentration in the interview and didn't answer the question very well."
= a period of time
"There was a time lapse between their engagement and their wedding."
to lapse = when you don't renew something
"We let our tenancy lapse."
latitude = how far north or south a place is of the Equator
"What's the latitude of New York?"
= freedom / space to do something
"My boss gives me a lot of latitude to experiment with ideas."
latter = the last one in a sequence / list
"John and Dave attended the meeting. The latter contributed most of the ideas."
laundry = the washing you need to do
"When do you want to do the laundry?"
(verb = "to launder"; place where you can do your laundry = "a launderette")
(Also "to launder money" = to put money earned illegally into legal circulation; "money-laundering")
lawn = an area of grass in your garden
"Our lawn is looking beautiful at this time of year."
(Also "lawnmower = a machine to cut the grass; "lawn tennis" = tennis played on grass rather than on a court)
lay = place something down
"She laid the pen down on the table and looked at me."
(also "lay a table" = put cutlery, etc on a table; "lay an egg" = when a bird or reptile produces an egg)
layer = an extra sheet / sheets over something
"When it's cold, I wear five layers of clothes!"
lean = use something as a support
"She leant on him as she walked."
= not stand straight / be at an angle
"The tower leans at an angle."
(adj) = not have any fat
"We only eat lean chicken."
leap = jump
"He leapt into the air."
lease = hire or rent something for a fixed period of time
"The company leases a fleet of cars."
(noun = "a lease")
ledge = narrow surface coming out of a wall, cliff, etc
"She put some flowers on the window ledge."
leek = a long white and green vegetable, in the same family as onions / garlic
"Boil the leeks in plenty of salted water."
legacy = what you leave to someone in your will
"When her parents died, she was left a huge legacy."
= what you leave behind
"Our system of democracy is the legacy of the ancient Greeks."
legitimate = within the law
"If they consider it as legitimate self-defence, you won't go to prison!"
(Opposite adj = "illegitimate": an old-fashioned way to talk about a child whose parents aren't married)
lethal = something that causes death or serious injury
"Should lethal weapons be banned from sale?"
lever = something that you can use to lift something heavy
"The mechanic used a lever to raise the car so he could look underneath it."
leverage = something you use in order to get another thing (noun and verb)
"Leverage your skills to get a better job."
liberal = open to new ideas and practices / broad-minded
"He has very liberal views on education."
lick = to use your tongue (example, to eat an ice-cream; or for an animal to clean itself)
"The cat is licking its paws again. Do you think there's something wrong?"
likely = probable
"Do you think it's likely that England will win the football match?"
(opposite adj = "unlikely)
linen = a type of strong cotton used for clothes, bed sheets, etc
"His linen suit began to crumple in the heat."
liquor = strong alcohol (typically American English)
"Avoid strong liquor!"
(Liqueur = strong alcohol you drink after meals)
literature = the study of books, poems and other literary works
"She's studying English literature at university."
(adj = "literary")
liver = vital organ on the right hand side of your body that has many important functions (pronounced /live -uh/)
"Hepatitis is a disease of the liver."
lizard = a small reptile with a long tail that lives in hot countries
"My cat enjoys chasing lizards."
load = fill a car / other vehicle
"We loaded up the car with our camping gear."
= carry something (heavy)
"She was loaded down with heavy shopping."
(noun = "a load")
loan = when you give someone some money which they must pay back
"The bank have given me a loan to buy a car."
lobe = the fleshy part of your ear
"He had three earrings in hie ear lobe."
loch = a lake in Scotland
"Have you heard of the Loch Ness monster?"
log = a piece of wood
"Can you put some more logs on the fire?"
lone = one person / animal on its own
"A lone gunman was responsible for all the shooting."
longitude = an imaginary vertical line that goes east or west of the prime meridian (line passing from the North to the South Pole via Greenwich)
"The longitude of New York City, NY, USA is -73.935242."
loo = another word for toilet
"Can I use your loo, please?"
lord = an aristocratic man
"Lord Deverel was at the garden party."
= a milder form of saying "God" when you want to show worry
"Lord! I've forgotten to get the eggs!"
lottery = a state / national competition of luck to win money
"What would you do if you won the lottery?"
lounge = another word for "living room"
"They've got two sofas in their lounge."
(to lounge about = relax and do nothing)
lunar = of the moon
"She does all her gardening according to the lunar cycle."
L Words at Advanced level
labyrinth = maze
"Inside the house is a labyrinth of corridors."
lacquer = a varnish to protect wood or other material
"You should put a coat of lacquer on your table to make it last longer."
lad = British word meaning "boy" or "young man"
"He's a nice lad."
lag = not be able to keep up
"He's lagging behind the others in terms of development."
(also "a time lag")
lair = a place where an animal lives, or a person tries to hide
"He carried the things he'd stolen back to his lair in the woods."
lambast = criticise strongly
"He was lambasted in public for his disastrous decisions."
lank = straight and lifeless hair
"He had lank, greasy hair."
lanky = someone who is tall and thin
He was lanky when he was young, but he's filled out a bit now."
lantern = a light with a transparent case that you can carry outdoors
"People on the procession carried paper lanterns down to the sea."
lard = solid animal fat used in cooking
"Do you roast your potatoes in lard or in oil?"
= slang word to mean "fat"
larder = a storage cupboard for dried foods, etc
"Is there anything in the larder?"
largesse = generosity (in giving food, money, etc)
"She was well-known for her acts of public largesse."
laryngitis = an irritation or infection of your larynx (vocal cords)
"I've got laryngitis and can't speak properly."
lash = whip or beat someone
"The court sentenced him to 50 lashes."
(whiplash = when you move your neck suddenly due to a car accident and damage your neck)
(to lash out = to attack someone verbally)
lass = another word for a girl (from Scotland / Northern England)
"She's a lovely lass!"
latch = a metal bar with a catch that you push up to open a door or gate
"He pushed up the latch and the door swung open."
(to latch on = to attach yourself to someone)
latent = something which is hidden, under the surface, or which can't be seen
"When he picked up the guitar, we realised he had a latent musical talent."
lavish = very rich or elaborate
"He threw a lavish party when he got married."
(Also verb: "to lavish praise on someone")
lax = not strict enough
"The security was rather lax."
lest = (conjunction followed by subjunctive) to prevent something bad / undesirable from happening
"They took extra supplies of food and water with them, lest they should get lost in the desert."
lewd = rude, offensive (in a sexual way)
"He sang an old, lewd song."
liable = legally responsible
"With this car insurance, we're liable for damages up to the first £600."
= likely to do something
"Her children are liable to cry if they don't get their own way!"
livelihood = your means of living
"Buying and selling on ebay is his sole livelihood."
lob = throw
"He lobbed the ball over the fence."
(also "lob" = tennis term)
loathe = hate
"I loathe milky tea!"
lodge = small house in a park or part of a larger house
"The gardener lives in a small lodge."
= branch of a society
"The Freemasons have a lodge in this town."
= become fixed in a place and be difficult to move
"A fishbone lodged in my throat."
= make an official claim or appeal
"I've lodged an appeal with the Board of Governers against her dismissal."
(noun = "lodger": a person who lives in a room in your house)
loiter = to wait around, often because you intend to do something bad
"Who are all those people loitering in front of the shop?"
loofah = bath sponge
"Use a loofah instead of a flannel."
loot = stealing from shops during civil unrest
"Police arrested some people for looting during the demonstration."
= what is stolen (often during a war)
"His wife discovered the loot he had stashed in the attic."
lop = cut
"We need to lop off that top branch of the tree."
louse = parasite that lives in clothes, on skin, etc (plural "lice")
"There's another epidemic of head lice at the primary school."
lozenge = a diamond shaped sweet you can suck if you have a sore throat
"Can you get me some cough lozenges when you go out?"
lubricant = oil or grease that prevents friction
"If you don't use lubricant in your car engine, it will stop working."
lucrative = profitable
"He has a very lucrative business consulting to governments."
lug = (informal) carry (especially something heavy)
"Lets check in to the hotel first. I don't want to have to lug this suitcase all round the town!"
lull = a pause
"They went out to buy milk when there was a lull in the fighting."
lullaby = a song you sing to babies to help them sleep
"Did your mother ever sing you lullabies?"
lunge = suddenly move forward to attack or get something
"He lunged forward and grabbed the stick."
lurch = move suddenly or in an uncontrolled way
"The car lurched to the left to avoid the holes in the road."
(leave someone "in the lurch" = leave someone in a difficult situation)
lurid = bright in colour
"The cycling team wore lurid green shirts."
"The papers are full of lurid headlines at the moment."
lush = very green
"We came across a lush landscape, filled with trees and flowers."
= nice, attractive (typically British)
"She's got a really lush new boyfriend."
"She's an old lush."
luscious = rich, sweet (in colour or texture)
"Is there anything better than a luscious peach on a hot, summer's day?"
lust = sexual (or other strong) desire
"He doesn't really love you – it's just lust."
"She's got a real lust for life."
(adj = "lustful")
lustre = shine / glow ("luster" in American English)
"I love the lustre of polished furniture."
(adj = "lustrous")
lynch = when a group of people kill someone without a trial
"The lynch mob came to his house after dark."
English Vocabulary – N Words
Here's a list of more than 100 "N words": words beginning with the letter "N". Check you know the N words at each level before you move to the N words at the next level.
N Words at Elementary level
name = what people call you
"What's your name?"
(also "first name", "surname", "nickname")
near = close
"I live near a supermarket."
nearly = almost
"It's nearly 7pm! I have to go!"
nervous = worried
"I always feel nervous before an exam."
(noun = "nerve")
net = "mesh" material to catch balls (in tennis, or football) or to catch fish
"He kicked the ball into the back of the net."
never = at no time
"She never goes to the gym – she hates it!"
new = opposite of old
"They bought a new car at the weekend."
news = what is happening in your area or in the world
"Have you watched the news?"
newspaper = where all the day's news is written
"Do you read a newspaper or do you watch the news on TV?"
next = the following step / event in a sequence
"Cut the onions. Next, prepare the carrots."
nice = good / attractive
"The food at the restaurant was very nice."
night = when it is dark (after the daytime)
"I can't sleep at night!"
nine = the number after 8
"They have nine cats!"
(Also "nineteen" = 19; "ninety" = 90; "ninth" = the position related to 9)
no = opposite of "yes"
"When I say 'no' I mean 'no'!"
= (grammatical) to show a negative
"There are no people in the shop."
(Also "nobody; "no one" = no people; "nothing" = opposite of "something"; "nowhere" = in no place)
noise = when you hear something
"Did you hear a noise from the garage?"
(adjective = "noisy")
normal = common / usual
"Is it normal to write a thank you letter in your country when you get a present?"
(adverb = "normally")
north = a direction opposite to "south"
"She lives in the north of the country."
nose = it's on your face and you can smell things with it
"I hate my nose! It's too big!"
not = (grammatical) to make a verb negative
"He is not French." (often abbreviated to 'nt: "He isn't French.")
now = at this moment
"I'm busy now. I'll help you later."
number = showing the quantity / amount
"The number of students in the school is quite high."
"He lives at number 10, Green Road."
N Words at Pre-intermediate level
nail = a sharp object with a point
"My fingernails are dirty."
"He stuck a nail into the wall so he could hang up his coat."
narrow = opposite of wide
"My bedroom is very narrow, and there's only space for my bed and a wardrobe."
nasty = opposite of nice / cruel
"He always says nasty things to her. I'm surprised they're still friends!"
(noun = "nastiness")
nation = country / state
"The United Nations represents the world's countries."
(adjective = "national")
natural = something you expect because it's part of our "nature"
"It's natural to feel sad when somebody dies."
(opposite adjective = "unnatural"; noun = "nature"; adverb = "naturally")
naughty = (pronounced /nor-tee/) when a child does something he / she isn't allowed to
"When her son is naughty, she explains why his behaviour is bad."
neat = when something is tidy, in the right place
"Her bedroom is very neat!"
(adverb = "neatly")
neck = the part of your body which supports your head
"If you sit at a computer for long periods of time, you can hurt your neck."
necklace = jewellery that you wear around your neck
"He bought her a gold necklace for her birthday."
need = when something is essential for you
"Do we need to buy any more coffee at the supermarket?"
(adjective = "necessary", opposite adjective = "unnecessary")
negative = opposite of positive
"In negative sentences, use 'not'."
"He has a very negative opinion of his school."
neighbour = someone who lives next door or near to you
"Our neighbours always feed our cats when we go away on holiday."
nephew = the son of your sister or brother
"My nephew looks just like my brother!"
nest = where birds and small animals build a "home"
"Can you see the bird's nest in that tree?"
network = connection of many things / people
"She has a big network of friends and colleagues."
(Also "computer network")
niece = the daughter of your sister or brother
"My niece has just started school."
none = when no more exists of something
"Have you got any money? I've got none left after doing the shopping."
noon = midday
"They always eat at noon."
nosy = curious about people, and asking questions
"You're so nosy! It's none of your business!"
note = short piece of writing
"Andy left a note for his wife on the table to say he would be late home."
(also "take notes")
= a single sound of music
"He played a single note on the piano."
= to observe
"He noted that there weren't any chairs in the room."
notice = a piece of paper telling you something important
"The notice said that the school was closed for the whole of August."
= to observe something
"Have you noticed anything different about my hair?"
noun = a part of English grammar, meaning a thing, a person or a place
"The word 'notice' is both a noun and a verb."
novel = a long work of fiction
"Do you read novels or short stories?"
= new / innovative
"He has a novel way of catching mosquitoes."
nun = a woman who lives in a convent, dedicating her life to God / prayer. (Male equivalent = monk)
"She knew she wanted to be a nun from the age of about 17."
nurse = someone who works in a hospital and looks after patients
"My sister is a nurse."
= breastfeed a baby
"We have facilities for nursing mothers in this restaurant."
nut = a type of hard fruit which is also sweet
"Nuts are healthy but they also have lots of calories in them."
N Words at Intermediate level
nag = to keep telling someone to do something, in an irritating way
"I hate it when you nag me to do my homework!"
naked = not wearing any clothes
"He sleeps naked in summer."
naive = when you don't have much experience or ability to judge things / people
"She's a bit young and naive and I hope she'll be alright at university!"
(adverb = naively: "I naively thought that the service would be free!")
nap = short sleep during the day
"He always has a nap after lunch."
nappy = diaper (American) what babies wear before they know how to use the toilet
"Her youngest child is still in nappies!"
narcotic = a drug that can reduce pain, make you sleep, make you feel happy (can also be illegal drugs)
"Heroin is a narcotic."
native = originating from that particular place
"Are these flowers native to the UK?"
(often used as a humourous noun: "Are the natives friendly here?")
needle = thin piece of sharp metal
"The nurse filled the needle with the vaccination and injected the patient."
"Do you have a needle and some thread? I need to mend the hole in my trousers!"
("hypodermic needle", "sewing needle")
negotiate = talk with a person to get a deal
"They're negotiating with their suppliers to get a discount."
(noun = "negotiation")
neither = the negative form of "either" (often paired with "nor")
"Which one would you like?" "Neither!"
neo = prefix used to mean "new" or "revived"
"They live in a neo-Georgian house."
neurotic = someone who worries obsessively
"My parents are so neurotic about locking the door. They check about 20 times."
= involving the nerves
"a neurotic illness"
neutral = when you are impartial (you don't have an opinion or preference during a conflict)
"Switzerland has always been a neutral country."
= when something doesn't have a strong feature
"They have a neutral decor in their house."
nevertheless = formal way to say "however"
"It's an expensive resort. Nevertheless, it's very popular."
newbie = someone who is new at something (often technological)
"If you're a newbie to the forums, make sure you read our FAQs first."
nibble = eat something in small bites, often using your front teeth
"I nibbled on a crust of bread for my lunch."
nibbles = small snacks that you eat with drinks
"We've been invited for drinks and nibbles at their house."
niche = specialist area
"Not many people work in his niche."
nickel = 5 US cents
"They own a typical nickel-and-dime store."
= type of silver coloured metal
"Are these earrings nickel-free?"
nil = nothing / zero (often used in sports scores)
"Their team won four-nil."
noble = aristocratic
"He comes from an old, noble family."
(noun = "nobility")
"Wanting to save people's lives is a noble aim."
non = prefix meaning "not"
"This deal is non-negotiable. Take it or leave it!"
nonsense = when something isn't true or logical
"Don't listen to him! He talks such nonsense!"
nope = an emphatic way to say "no"
"Have you seen him?" "Nope!"
nor = the negative form of "or". (Often paired with "neither")
"I have neither time nor energy to get involved in this argument!"
nought = zero (when we describe numbers)
"How many noughts are there in one million?"
nowadays = these days
"Nowadays, a lot of people are struggling with high rent."
nuclear = relating to the nucleus of an atom or a cell
"nuclear energy", "nuclear war", "nuclear family" (ie a small, concentrated family unit); "nuclear option" (ie the most drastic option available)
nude = with no covering / naked
"He likes to paint nudes in his art class."
"Nude fingernail polish is fashionable again."
nuisance = (pronounced /new-sunss/) something / someone that is irritating
"The police will arrest you if they consider you to be a public nuisance!"
numb = when you can't feel anything
"It was so cold that my feet went numb!"
numeracy = the skill of being able to use and understand numbers
"The government are trying to improve the numeracy rate."
(adjective = numerate")
N Words at Advanced level
nab = catch / arrest
"Police nabbed him as he was trying to break in."
"Her son nabbed all the chocolates."
naff = uncool or unfashionable; vulgar or impolite (British)
"It's really naff to ask your guests to pay for their meal!"
= to tell someone to leave
"Just naff off and leave me alone!"
nape = the back of the neck
"He had a large mole on the nape of his neck."
nark = an informer (for the police)
"Did you know that Richard used to be a nark?"
= annoy someone
"His comment really narked me."
natter = to chat about something
"There were two old ladies nattering on the bench."
(also "have a natter" = chat)
natty = stylish, cool
"He was wearing a natty tie with a formal suit."
nauseous = when you feel sick
"All that violence on TV makes me feel nauseous."
(noun = "nausea")
nave = the part of a church where the congregation sits
navel = the "hole" in your abdomen where your umbilical cord was attached (also "belly button")
"She wanted to get a navel piercing, but her mother didn't allow her."
nay = a negative answer in a vote
"There were more nays than yeas in the government vote."
= a word we use to correct ourselves and say something even stronger (formal)
"There were hundreds, nay thousands, of protesters."
naysayer = someone who's negative or pessimistic
"Don't let the naysayers put you off your idea."
nebulous = an idea that isn't very clear
"The concept for the business was a little nebulous."
neigh = (pronounced /nay/) the sound a horse makes
"The horse neighed when we approached."
newt = a small amphibian
"Did you know that he collects newts?"
nib = the point of the pen which you write with
"Don't chew the nib of your pen! Your tongue will go blue!"
(Also "his nibs" = something humorous we call a man who is authoritarian or demanding: "His Nibs wants you in his office again.")
nicety = (often plural) polite behaviour
"She's teaching her children to observe all the usual niceties."
nick = to make a small cut
"He nicked himself shaving."
= to steal (British informal)
"He nicked some cigarettes from the shop."
= to arrest someone (British informal)
(also "the nick" = police station – British informal)
nigger = one of the most offensive words in English, used to insult someone who is black. The word is sometimes used by black people to refer to other black people. However, it is considered to be so racist as to be called "the n-word". Don't use this word.
niggle = minor complaint
"The holiday was great apart from a few niggles. For example, the hotel was a bit out-of-the-way."
nigh = almost (often followed by "on")
"It's nigh on 2pm and I still haven't eaten lunch!"
(Also "The end is nigh!": a religious saying.)
nightingale = a bird that sings during the night
"We have a nightingale living in the garden."
nip = bite or squeeze
"The dog nipped at his heels."
"He nipped off the flower."
"There's a cold nip in the air."
= to move quickly (British)
"I'm just going to nip down to the shop to get some bread."
= a small quantity of alcohol
"Would you like a nip of brandy?"
nipple = the part of the breast that gives milk
nit = the egg of a head louse
"All the kids have got nits again."
nob = someone in a high social position
"The Royal Enclosure was full of nobs."
= someone (male) who's being stupid ("nob" = slang word for "penis")
"His boss is such a nob!"
nobble = influence someone unfairly
"I think he must have nobbled the jury. No way they couldn't have found him guilty!"
node = a point / intersection where things connect
= a mass of tissue
"The surgeon performed a biopsy of her lymph node."
nonchalant = carefree, relaxed
"He looked very nonchalant for a person just told he was going to be kicked out of school."
nonentity = someone who isn't interesting or important
"She's a bit of a nonentity, really. I don't understand why they promoted her."
nonetheless = formal way to say "nevertheless"
"We don't agree with the proposal. Nonetheless, we will give it our backing."
norm = standard, accepted practice
"Is it the norm to reply to written invitations by email?"
nosh = British slang word for food
"There was great nosh at the reception!"
nowt = nothing (used in the north of England)
"You've got nowt to worry about!"
nozzle = the end of a pipe or tube that allows you to control the pressure / direction of the liquid
"If you turn the nozzle of the hosepipe you get a fine spray."
nuance = a subtle difference
"Translated books often don't give you the nuances of language that you get in the original version."
nub = the central point of an issue
"The nub of his argument seems to be that immigration is out of control."
nudge = push someone (often with your elbow) to draw their attention to something
"She nudged her travel companion when she saw the ticket inspector arriving."
= push someone into taking action
"If you don't hear back from me by next Wednesday, give me a nudge."
nugget = a small lump of something
"Would you like chicken nuggets for lunch?"
= a small piece of valuable information
"He passed on a few nuggets of wisdom in his speech."
(gold nugget = small quantity of gold)
nuke = to attack or destroy
"If you cook it at that temperature, you'll nuke it!"
= use a nuclear weapon
null = legally invalid (often used with "and void")
"Their contract was declared null and void."
nurture = look after carefully, protect
"We nurtured the seedlings all spring, but they never grew."
nutty / nutter / nuts = crazy
"He's the typical nutty professor!"
"Don't go near him. He's a nutter."
"You must be nuts to want to fall out of an aeroplane!"
nuzzle = snuggle against
"She nuzzled up to him on the sofa."
English Vocabulary – Q Words
Here's a list of Q Words (words starting with the letter Q) organised by level of difficulty. Learn the Q Words at Elementary level before going on to the Q Words at Pre-intermediate, Intermediate and Advanced level.
Q Words at Elementary level
quarter = 1/4 (or 25%)
"A quarter of the class passed their exam."
queen = a royal woman who rules a country or is married to a king
"Elizabeth II is the Queen of Great Britain."
question = something you ask another person
"I have a question for you. Where do you come from?"
queue = a line of people
"There was a long queue for tickets."
quick = fast
"This is a quick exercise."
(adverb = "quickly")
quiet = not loud
"It's very quiet where I live."
(adverb = "quietly")
quite = between a little and a lot
"Our teacher is quite easy to understand."
Q Words at Pre-Intermediate level
qualification = a certificate that shows you can do something or that you know something
"Do you need lots of qualifications to become a teacher?"
(verb = "to qualify")
quality = the standard of something
"His work is always of a high quality."
quantity = the number or amount of something
"We only produce a low quantity of designs each year."
quiche = a type of savoury pie made with pastry, eggs and cream
"We ate a beautiful salmon quiche at the party."
quilt = a warm cover for your bed
"We sleep with the quilt on, even in summer."
quit = stop doing something
"He quit smoking five years ago."
quiz = a list of questions for you to answer
"Have you seen the new personality quiz on Facebook?"
quote = when you write or repeat what someone else said
"Our teacher always quotes Shakespeare."
= when you have an estimated cost for something
"The builders gave us a quote for the extension."
(noun = "quotation": "Put some quotations in your essay.")
Q Words at Intermediate level
quack = the noise a duck makes
= someone who pretends to be a doctor but doesn't have medical training (or isn't very good)
"She went to a quack to try and cure her asthma, but of course it didn't work!"
quaint = old-fashioned and charming
"The town is very quaint, but I wouldn't want to live there."
quake = short form of "earthquake"
"He stood there, quaking with fear."
quarantine = a period of exclusion (to avoid contagion)
"Our pets were put in quarantine for 40 days when we returned home."
quarrel = argument
"Stop quarrelling you two!"
quay = (pronounced "key") something built next to the water to help ships unload cargo, etc
"There are lots of trendy bars and restaurants along the quay."
queer = strange
"There's something a bit queer about this place."
= term used by LGBT community to refer to non-heterosexual people / community
query = a question (especially if you have a doubt)
"They queried the price."
"Please send your queries to the Head Office."
quest = search (formal)
"She travelled all across the country in her quest for the top B&Bs."
quid = a pound sterling (British)
"Can you spare me a couple of quid?"
quiff = a type of hairstyle where the hair stands up at the front
"He had an Elvis-style quiff."
quirk = something unusual or interesting
"He has a few quirks, but he's basically a nice guy."
(adj = "quirky": "a quirky guest-house")
quite = an expression to show you agree
"I quite understand!" (make sure you stress "quite")
quota = a set percentage that is allocated
"If you exceed your daily quota, you'll get a bonus."
Q Words at Advanced level
quad = abbreviation for "quadrangle": a courtyard with four sides on a university campus
"A groups of students were chatting in the quad"
= a type of large motorised bike with 4 wheels
"He always comes to school on his quad."
quaff = drink something with pleasure (often alcohol)
"They quaffed a litre of wine between them."
quagmire = an area of ground that is wet / muddy
"The builders' lorries turned our garden into a quagmire."
= a complex situation
"His comments created a political quagmire."
qualm = (moral) doubt or fear (often "have no qualms about")
"They had no qualms about laying off all the staff a week before Christmas."
quandary = dilemma
"I'm in a bit of a quandary. Should I accept this job or the other one?"
quango = a type of NGO financed by the government
"He works for a quango which advises on housing policy."
quarry = a large hole where minerals are extracted from the earth
"A body has been found in the old quarry."
= prey / something that is hunted
"Once these dogs have the scent of their quarry, they'll never stop."
quash = suppress
"She tried to quash rumours in the press about her marriage."
= legally overthrow
"His conviction for murder was quashed in the Court of Appeal."
quasi = (pronounced "kway-z-eye) a prefix meaning "almost" or "pretend"
"What you are suggesting is quasi-legal."
"Their quasi-supporters are doing them a lot of harm."
quaver = when your voice shakes
"A quaver in your voice is a giveaway sign that you're nervous."
= a musical note
"Don't forget to play those quavers!"
queasy = feel nauseous
"Being on the top of a tall building makes me feel a bit queasy."
quell = repress or silence someone
"The army were called in to quell the outbreak of violence."
"She quelled her urge to walk out."
quench = suppress your thirst
"A glass of water will help you quench your thirst on a hot day."
quibble = disagreement on a minor point
"It's pointless to quibble about the price."
= minor criticism
"I have a slight quibble about your sales projections…"
quickie = something done quickly or streamlined ("a quickie divorce") or a quick act of sex
quill = the sharp spines of a hedgehog or porcupine
"I found a black and white porcupine quill in the garden."
quin = abbreviation of "quintuplet" (five children born together)
"Did you hear about the woman who had quins?"
quince = type of fruit like a large apple
"Have you ever tried quince jelly?"
quintessential = the typical example of something
"He's the quintessential English gentleman with beautiful manners."
quip = a funny remark
"Her quip about the English weather made everyone laugh."
quiver = make small rapid movements
"The mouse's whiskers began to quiver as he smelled the cheese."
quoits = a game where you need to throw a ring over a peg
"Who's up for a game of quoits?"
English Vocabulary – V Words
Here's a list of 130 "V Words" (words starting with the letter V) organised by level of difficulty. Learn the V Words at Elementary level before going on to the V Words at Pre-intermediate, Intermediate and Advanced level.
V Words at Elementary level
valley = the low place between two hills
"It's cooler in the valley than on the hill."
vegetable = type of food which has fibre and vitamins, such as carrots, onions, etc
"You should eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day!"
verb = part of English language structure that comes after the noun
"In the sentence 'I like chocolate', 'like' is the verb."
very = an adverb that emphasises an adjective
"It's very hot today!"
video = a recording of moving images (like "film")
"Do you have a video of your wedding?"
view = what you can see (from a window, high point, etc)
"We climbed to the top of the hill where there was a beautiful view of the town."
village = smaller than a town
"She comes from a village where there are only 100 people."
VIP = short for "Very Important Person"
"There were lots of VIPS at the tennis match."
visit = go to see someone / something
"I want to go and visit my aunt in hospital."
(person = "a visitor")
vocabulary = the words that you know
"I need to improve my English vocabulary!"
voice = you speak with this!
"She screamed so much at the concert that she lost her voice!"
volleyball = a game where you hit the ball over the net
"Do you want to play beach volleyball this afternoon?"
V Words at Pre-intermediate level
vacant = empty / free
"After they moved, the offices stayed vacant for a year."
vacation = American English word for "holiday"
"Where did you go on your vacation?"
valuable = precious, worth a lot
"She has a lot of valuable jewellery."
(noun = "value": "Do you know the value of this painting?")
vampire = (superstition) a person that drinks blood
"Dracula was the most famous vampire."
van = like a large car used to transport things
"Do you have space in your van for my sofa?"
variation = a different version to the usual thing
"There are many variations of this word in English."
varied = including a number of different things
"It's important to have a varied diet."
various = different from each other
"There are various things we need to talk about."
vase = a glass or china container for flowers
"She put a vase of flowers in the bedroom."
vast = huge
"She has a vast collection of CDs."
vegetarian = someone who doesn't eat meat or fish
"Is there a vegetarian menu?"
(Also "vegan" = someone who doesn't eat dairy food either)
vehicle = a means of transport with an engine
"No vehicles can be parked here overnight."
venue = the place where an event is happening
"We need to book the venue for the reception?"
versus = against
"The football game tonight is Arsenal versus Chelsea."
vertical = a line which is at 90 degrees to a horizontal line
vest = a type of t-shirt you can wear under your shirt to help you keep warm
"Did you wear a vest when you were a child?"
vet = a doctor for animals
"We need to take the cats to the vet for their vaccinations."
victim = a person who suffers from a crime or disaster
"He was the victim of an armed robbery."
victory = when you win something
"The match was a historic victory for their team."
(adj = "victorious")
villa = a large house with a big garden
"We're staying in a villa in Italy for our summer holiday."
violence = when you attack (physically or mentally) another person or thing
"There's always a lot of violence when the two football teams play each other."
(adj = "violent")
violin = a string instrument that you play with a bow
"Can you play the violin?"
(noun = "violinist")
virus = an infection
"He got a nasty virus on holiday."
(adj = "viral")
= computer code that can destroy your computer
"Keep your anti-virus software up to date."
visa = a stamp in your passport that allows you to visit certain countries
"Do I need a visa to visit the USA?"
visible = something that you can see
"The mark on his t-shirt is still visible."
(opposite adjective = invisible)
vision = your sight
"Her vision is getting worse as she gets older."
= the ability to imagine the future
"What sort of vision do you have for the company?"
volcano = a mountain that erupts, sending out fire and lava
"Mt Etna is an active volcano."
volume = the loudness of something
"Can you turn the volume up? I can't hear the TV!"
= the amount of something
"There's always a high volume of traffic on the roads before holidays."
vomit = to be sick
"She ate something bad and vomited for hours."
vote = to show your preference in an election
"At what age can you vote in your country?"
voyage = a long journey (often by sea)
"The voyage lasted 28 days."
V words at Intermediate level
v-sign = a gesture when you stick up your index and middle finger with the palm of your hand facing you to show anger or contempt towards someone
"When the teacher turned her back on the class to write on the blackboard, the student gave her the v-sign."
= the same gesture, but with the palm of your hand facing outwards to show a "victory sign"
"Winston Churchill is famous for his 'V for Victory' gesture."
vaccine = a medicine to prevent disease
"The scientists are trying to find a vaccine for the disease."
(noun = "vaccination", verb = "vaccinate")
vacuum = space where there is nothing
"His departure has left a vacuum in the company."
(also "vacuum cleaner")
vagina = female sex organ
vague = not definite
"Our summer plans are still a little vague."
vain = someone who is very concerned about their physical appearance or self-value
"My brother is very vain and spends hours in front of the mirror."
(noun = "vanity")
"She made a vain attempt to stop them arguing."
(also "in vain": "His efforts were all in vain.")
valet = someone who parks or cleans a car
"When you arrive at the hotel, a valet will take care of your car."
(also "valet service" / "valet cleaning")
= a man's servant who takes care of personal needs
"He was appointed as a valet to the Duke."
valid = legally or officially acceptable
"The contract is valid up until the end of the month."
= reasonable or logical argument / opinion
"You have a valid point."
(opposite adjective = "invalid")
vanish = disappear
"Have you seen my book? It's vanished!"
vapour = steam
"The two chemicals produced a yellow vapour."
varnish = a lacquer used to protect wood (or nails)
"Apply a coat of varnish to protect the wood."
"She always wears nail varnish on her toenails."
vary = be different from other things of the same type
"The hotel prices vary according to the time of year."
= change something
"I try to vary the activities in class to keep the students interested!"
veil = partially or completely cover your face with a light cloth
"Do women in your country wear a veil?"
vein = a blood vessel
"How many veins do you have in your arm?"
velvet = a soft material, often worn by wealthy people in the past
"She wore a purple velvet coat."
vendetta = an often violent long argument or campaign against a family or other people
"The two families conducted a vendetta that lasted for generations."
(Also "vengeance" = revenge; adjective = "vengeful")
vendor = the person selling something
"We wanted to buy the flat, but the vendor kept putting the price up."
verdict = the final decision in a law court
"The jury returned a guilty verdict and the judge sentenced him to prison."
verify = check
"Can you verify these figures?"
verse = writing in rhyme (like a poem)
"She bought her grandchild a book of children's verse."
version = something different from a previous form
"Have you got a revised version of the manual? Mine is a bit old."
= your account of something
"He gave a different version of the accident to the police."
vessel = something that can carry or contain liquid
"She burst a blood vessel."
= a ship
"The fleet consists of 20 vessels."
veteran = an ex-soldier
"It's sometimes difficult for veterans to get jobs when they leave the armed services."
= someone with a lot of experience in an area
"He's a veteran of the Labour party."
veto = the right to vote against something
"The Managing Director vetoed the suggestion."
vibe = feeling, atmosphere
"There's a great vibe in this neighbourhood."
(also "vibration" = when something makes a small, rapid move; verb = "to vibrate")
vibrant = alive, colourful
"This part of the city is known for its vibrant cafes and restaurants."
vicar = an Anglican priest
"The vicar is well-known in the village."
("vicarage" = the house where a vicar lives)
vice = a bad habit or behaviour
"Smoking is his only vice."
(also "vice squad": police department whose responsibility is to arrest criminals involved in pornography, drugs, etc)
vicious = cruel or violent behaviour
"He was left with a broken arm after a vicious attack."
"She made a particularly vicious comment to her younger sister."
vigilant = when you keep watch for danger
"Be particularly vigilant in the city at night."
(also "vigilante" = an armed person, unauthorised by the police, who guards an area)
vigorous = strong
"She made a vigorous attempt to defend herself against the attacker."
(noun = "vigour", adverb = "vigorously")
vile = very unpleasant
"The group of boys made some vile remarks, but I ignored them."
vine = the plant that grapes grow on (and other "creeping" plants)
"We planted some vines last year so that we can make wine."
(place = "vineyard")
vinegar = an acidic liquid
"To dress the salad you just need some salt, vinegar and oil."
violate = break an agreement
"If you do this, you'll violate the terms of the contract."
= treat with disrespect / desecrate
"Robbers violated the tomb more than 1000 years ago."
violet = purple
"The artist added a dash of violet to his picture."
(also the name of a purple flower)
virgin = someone who has no experience in something
"He's a virgin in the harsh world of politics."
= someone who has never had sex
"She was a virgin when she got married."
(noun = "virginity"; adjective = "virginal")
(also "virgin rainforest": rainforest that has not been touched)
virulent = harmful
"There's been a particularly virulent form of the flu going around."
"He was accused of virulent anti-semitism."
visor = the part of the helmet that comes down to cover the face
"He wore a cap with a visor."
vivid = colourful, strong
"She has a rather vivid imagination."
"This artist is well-known for his vivid colours."
vocal = relating to your voice
"They added some vocal effects to the music."
"There were vocal protests against the new supermarket."
vogue = fashion
"It seems that photographing your food before you eat it is very much in vogue."
volley = in sport, when the ball is kicked or hit and before it touches the ground
"This player has a great backhand volley."
= a sequence of shots
"The army returned a volley of shots."
voucher = a piece of paper with monetary value
"This voucher entitles you to a 25% discount."
vulgar = crude (behaviour or language)
"She uses some quite vulgar words at times."
"Do you think it would be vulgar to offer him a tip?"
vulnerable = unprotected
"If you don't make improvements to the product, you'll leave us vulnerable to the competition."
"He's a very vulnerable child."
V Words at Advanced level
vacuous = showing a lack of intelligence
"He had a rather vacuous expression on his face."
vagabond = someone without a fixed home or job
"He spent a couple of years as a vagabond, wandering from place to place."
vagrant = homeless beggar
"The city is clamping down on vagrants."
(noun = "vagrancy")
vale = valley (used in place names)
"They live in the Vale of the White Horse district."
valiant = brave
"They made a valiant effort to save the company from bankruptcy."
(noun = "valour")
validate = show or support the truth
"It's important that your experiences are validated."
= declared as valid
"The professional body validates all certifications."
valve = something that controls the movement (often of liquid)
"There's a safety valve on the radiator."
vane = part of a windmill which is pushed by wind
(Also "weathervane": an object which shows the direction of the wind)
vanquish = defeat (old-fashioned)
"The army vanquished its enemy."
vantage point = a spot from which you can see well (giving you an advantage)
"From his vantage point he could see the approaching soldiers."
vapid = bland, meaningless
"I'm sick of all these vapid reality TV programmes."
variant = variation
"Dogs and wolves are variants of the canine family."
vat = large container of liquid (often in factories, etc)
"The leather is immersed in a vat of dye."
veer = to suddenly change direction
"He veered off to the left."
veneer = thin cover of good quality wood
"Unfortunately the veneer is scratched."
venerable = to have respect because you are old or wise
"He became a venerable statesman in later life."
vent = an opening for air or gas
"Make sure that the air vents aren't blocked."
= to "air" (express) a strong emotion or anger
"She vented her disappointment."
venture = a project or undertaking
"His new venture is property development."
(Also the expression, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained.")
verge = edge
"There was lots of rubbish on the verge of the road."
"He's verging on the illegal driving like that."
vermin = animals or birds that spread disease
"Leaving rubbish out is bound to attract vermin."
verve = vigour and enthusiasm
"He performs the character with great verve."
vested = guaranteed as a right or privilege
"He has vested interests in the company."
vex = worry or annoy someone
"Their conversation vexed her."
viable = able to succeed
"I don't think this investment is economically viable."
viaduct = a bridge carrying a road or railway over a valley
"Some of the old Roman viaducts are still in use today."
vial = a glass tube that contains liquid
"Don't touch those vials! You don't know what they contain."
vice versa = (pronunciation "vie-suh – ver-suh") an expression to mean "and the other way round"
"You can work an evening shift and then the morning shift, but not vice versa."
vie = compete strongly to win or gain something
"The children in that family are always vying with each other for their parents' attention."
viking = a Scandinavian sailor/pirate from the 8th – 11th centuries
"The coast was invaded by Vikings."
villain = the bad character in a film / story
"Who are the villains in this story?"
= a criminal (British slang)
"He sees his job as a policeman as ridding the streets of villains."
vindictive = wanting revenge
"I think your comments were unnecessarily vindictive."
vinyl = a type of plastic used to make records
"She has a great vinyl connection."
viper = a type of poisonous snake, often found in Europe (also called "adder")
"There are vipers in this area of Italy, so don't go walking without any shoes on!"
virile = (of a man) with lots of energy and strength; a strong sex drive
"The beach was full of virile-looking men."
vis-a-vis = regarding
"I don't have any preference vis-a-vis restaurant choices tonight."
vixen = a female fox
"I saw a vixen with her cubs last night."
vole = a small mammal similar to a mouse
"Owls and eagles prey on small animals like voles."
voluble = talkative
"Our family isn't known for being very voluble, but our neighbours never stop talking!"
voluminous = big and baggy item of clothing
"He wore a voluminous pair of old trousers."
vortex = downwards spiral
"They became trapped in a vortex of debt."
vouch = confirm that something is true
"Rome is a beautiful city. I can vouch for that!"
= say that somebody is of a good character / honest
"I'll vouch for you if you need a letter of reference."
vow = a solemn promise
"She vowed to avenge the death of her father."
vulture = a bird that eats dead animals
"A cloud of vultures flew above the dead camel."
English Vocabulary – X Words
There are very few words which start with the letter X in English. Here's a list of the most common of these X words, listed by level.
A note on pronunciation
Words beginning with "x" are pronounced in two main ways:
1. /eks/ (like the letter "x")
2. /z/ (like the beginning of the letter "z")
X Words at Intermediate level
x-ray = (pronounced /eks-ray/) a wave that can pass through an object (often for medical or security reasons)
"The doctor took an x-ray of her bone fracture."
x-ray machine = a machine that takes x-rays
"You'll need to put your bag through the x-ray machine, so take out your phone first."
x-chromosome = the chromosome that determines the female sex (if there are two X chromosomes)
x-rated = (the "x" is pronounced /eks/) adult content (films, books, etc)
"You can't go to see that film – it's x-rated!"
xenophobic = (pronounced /zen-uh-fobic/) prejudiced against people from different countries
"I think the UK is becoming more xenophobic after the referendum."
(noun = xenophobia)
xerox = (pronounced /zeer-ox/)photocopy
"There's spare paper near the xerox machine."
X Words at Advanced level
Xhosa = (pronounced /kosa/) an ethic group of South Africa / the language of the Xhosa people
xanax = (pronounced /zanaks/)a drug used to treat anxiety and depression
"The doctor put her on xanax."
xylophone = (pronounced /zyluh-fone/) a musical instrument with a row of wooden bars that you hit
"Her grandfather bought her a xylophone for her birthday."
English Vocabulary – Y Words
Here's a list of 50 Y words (words beginning with the letter Y) at elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate and advanced levels.
Y Words at Elementary level
year = 365 days
"I've lived here for five years."
"She went to the USA a year ago."
yellow = a bright colour (the colour of the sun, sunflowers, etc)
"She wore a bright yellow dress."
yes = an affirmative reply
"Do you like chocolate?" "Oh yes!"
yesterday = the day before today
"What did you do yesterday?"
yoghurt = a thick milk that people often eat for breakfast or with vegetables
"I love Greek yoghurt with honey."
you = the second person (singular / plural)
"What do you like doing at the weekend?"
young = not old
"Her children are still quite young."
your = possessive adjective of "you"
"What's your name?"
yours = possessive pronoun for "you"
"Is this book yours?"
Y Words at Pre-Intermediate level
yacht = an expensive boat
"He sailed his yacht around the Mediterranean."
yard = the length of a metre (Imperial measurement)
"She bought a yard of silk."
= garden (often American English)
"They often spend time in the backyard in the summer."
yawn = what you do with your mouth when you're tired or bored
"The children are yawning. They should go to bed!"
yeah = an abbreviation of "yes"
"Did you have a good day at school?" "Yeah, I guess…"
yet = up to now (used mainly in questions and negatives)
"Have you got your test results yet?"
"Mr Smith hasn't come in yet."
yoga = exercise done for relaxation / stretching
"Her doctor told her she should do some yoga to help with her anxiety."
yourself = reflexive pronoun for "you"
"Did you hurt yourself when you fell off your bike?"
youth = a time when a person is young
"In his youth he used to go to lots of parties."
(adj = "youthful")
= young people (old-fashioned)
"The youth of today don't understand the value of hard work."
Y Words at Intermediate level
yank / yankee = a slang word for an American person (sometimes an insult)
"He spent a week in Chicago and now he thinks he speaks like a Yank!"
yay = an expression to show happiness or approval
"We won the competition. Yay!"
yeast = a fermenting agent used to make bread
"What sort of yeast do you use when you make bread?"
yell = to shout
"She yelled at her children to stop playing in the road."
yeti = a mythical human-like creature said to live in the Himalayas (also known as "Bigfoot")
"Is there any evidence for the yeti?"
y-fronts = type of men's underwear with an upside-down Y-shape opening at the front
"He wore a pair of y-fronts on his head to the fancy-dress party."
yin (and) yang = Taoist philosophy where two contrasting elements interact to influence destiny
"Her jewellery often features the yin and yang symbol."
yippee = an exclamation to show joy
"Only two more days to my birthday. Yippee!"
yob = a noisy, aggressive or violent teenage boy (British English)
"There's a group of yobs who are vandalising all the bus shelters in the town."
yolk = (pronounced "yoak" to rhyme with "soak") the yellow of an egg
"How many egg yolks do you need to make this cake?"
youngster = young person (old-fashioned)
"Today's youngsters spend more time on their phones than they do outdoors."
yuck = an expression of disgust
"Yuck! This fridge has got mould everywhere!"
(Adj = "yukky": "His bathroom is really yukky!")
yum = an expression to show that something tastes good
"We've got ice-cream for dessert. Yum!"
(Adj = "yummy": "Her cooking is yummy!")
yuppie = a successful young person who has lots of money
"Yuppies originated in the 1980s."
yurt = big circular tent
"The campsite also has a few yurts you can hire."
Y Words at Advanced level
yahoo = loud. uncultured person
"The yacht club was full of yahoos."
yak = chat about unimportant things for a long time (also "yack" spelling)
"Those two women in the corner have been yakking for hours!"
= type of animal (like an ox) found in Tibet
yank = pull suddenly
"Something yanked at his fishing line and he was sure he'd caught a big fish."
yap = give a high-pitched bark
"Her terriers yap all day long when she's out of the house."
(adj = "yappy": "They've got one of those small yappy dogs.")
yarn = thread used for knitting
"What kind of yarn do I need to knit this jumper?"
= a long story
"He spun us an unbelievable yarn about being in the Marines."
yearn = long for something
"She yearned to hear his voice again."
yelp = cry out in pain
"The dog yelped as the man kicked him."
yen = currency of Japan
= craving for something
"Do you also have a yen to live near the sea?"
yesteryear = a (long-gone) time in the past
"Come and see the costumes of yesteryear! (ie from a publicity leaflet)
yew = (pronounced "you") a type of poisonous tree often found in churchyards
yield = supply (crop, profit, etc)
"The wheat crop yielded a 20% profit on last year."
"What sort of yield do you get on your investment?"
= to give way
"He yielded to their demands for information."
yip = a short sharp cry
"She gave a yip of delight when her bid at auction was accepted."
yodel = to sing like a Swiss mountaineer (where your voice goes up and down octaves)
"He won a yodelling competition."
yoke = something you put on an ox, etc to attach it to a plough
"The farmer yoked up his oxen to plough the field."
yokel = someone uncultured from the countryside (used as an insult)
"You can stay a yokel all your life if you want, but I'm going to do something with my life."
yonder = "over there" (mainly American English)
"The farm is about a mile yonder."
yonks = a very long time (mainly British English)
"I haven't been here in yonks!"
yore = (pronounced "your") in former times (often used for poetic effect)
"When knights roamed this land, in times of yore…"
yuletide = Christmas (old-fashioned)
"Ah, the yuletide season is upon us again!"
English Vocabulary – Z Words
Here are the most common English Z Words (words beginning with the letter "Z").
Pronunciation note: "z" is pronounced like a heavy (loud or voiced) "s" sound.
Z Words at Elementary level
zebra = a striped animal from Africa, a little like a horse
"She took photos of zebras and lions when she went to Kenya on safari."
zed ("zee" in American English) = the pronunciation for the letter Z
"Zed is the last letter of the alphabet."
zero = 0
"She got zero in her Maths test."
zone = area with a particular use
"You can't drive in the pedestrian zone."
zoo = place where wild animals are kept (for conservation, research and public interest)
"Did you go to the zoo when you were a child?"
Z Words at Pre-intermediate level
zap = destroy or kill
"You can zap mosquitoes with this spray."
= use electricity / microwaves
"You can zap through the TV channels with the remote control."
(Also "zapper" = remote control)
zip = metal fastening for trousers (also "zipper")
"Oh no! My zip's broken!"
= do something quickly
"She zipped through the questions in the exam."
zodiac = imaginary belt in the sky divided into 12 constellations (astrology)
"What's your sign of the zodiac? I'm a Leo!"
zombie = dead person brought alive again through witchcraft (and often, who eats living people)
"I'm reading a zombie apocalypse thriller at the moment."
= someone who has no energy
"After all that housework, I felt like a zombie."
zoom = make something bigger
"Have you got a zoom lens for your camera?"
(Also verb = "zoom in on")
zucchini = courgette (American English)
"Do you like zucchini with pasta?
zumba = Latin style dance (with music) used as a popular fitness programme
"What time is your zumba class today?"
Z Words at Intermediate level
zany = funny, crazy (a little old-fashioned)
"He had a few zany ideas to make money."
zest = lots of enthusiasm and energy
"Even if he's 95 years old, he has a great zest for life."
(Adj = "zestful")
= peel of a citrus fruit (not the white part)
"To make lemon cheesecake, you'll need the zest of 2 lemons."
zig-zag = a line that goes off to the left and then off to the right
"He zigzagged across the field to avoid the cows."
zillion = a very big number
"There were zillions of people at the free concert."
zinc = a chemical element used to coat metals (to prevent rust)
(Also "zinc oxide cream" = used as a sunscreen)
ziplock = a type of bag which zips closed and which you can reuse
"She put the leftovers in a ziplock bag."
zip wire (also "zipline") = a wire in the air that you slide down for fun
"The theme park has an exciting zip wire attraction for kids."
zit = spot (informal, mainly for teenagers)
"He doesn't want to go out because he's got a huge zit on his nose."
Z Words at Advanced level
zeal = great enthusiasm for something (can often be seen as excessive)
"He showed great zeal for exiting the European Union."
(Person = "zealot"; adj = "zealous")
zeitgeist = (pronounced "z-eye-t g-eye-st") defining mood of a historical period
"His new film beautifully captures the zeitgest of the 1970s."
zenith = the highest or most successful point
"The Labour Party was at its zenith in those years."
zeppelin = a long, cylindrical airship
"They heard the noise of the zeppelin before they could see it."
zeta = the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet
zilch = nothing
"What did we get out of the deal? Zilch!"
zine = (pronounced "zeen") a fanzine (cheaply produced for a limited audience / interest)
"Her collection of 1970s punk music zines is now worth a lot of money."
zinger = sharp remark
"The boss was talking rubbish, and John came out with a zinger of a comment."
zingy = bright, zesty, exciting
"She made us a lovely curry with zingy flavours."
zippy = zingy (see above) or fast
"He's got a really zippy new car. It's great for driving around the city."
zither = a musical stringed instrument, played horizontally
"We're looking for a zither player for our folk band."
zonk out = fall asleep, and sleep heavily
"After the long journey I just zonked out."
zoology = scientific study of animals
"She studied zoology at university."
(Person = "zoologist")
Zzz = an expression meaning "to sleep" or something that's so boring that you want to sleep
"I better go now. I need to catch some Zzz."
"The lecturer was droning on about research methods. Zzz."
1 comment so farMarie-Danielle O'Reilly
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