Thursday, 12 March 2009

Vocab & Slang: Running, Beer & Potato

Have you ever run a marathon before? Or a half marathon? I have never done that. But in Singapore, I needed to pass a fitness test and everybody had to run 2.4 km within a certain time to pass the exam, my fastest time was 10 mins 19 secs. I think just enough to get an ‘A’. (My good friends could easier finish that less than 9 minutes) The route was not fun as far as I can remember, I hated the part right next to the highway because every breath I took, I felt that I would die a day earlier.


Anyway, one of my students asked me how to cheer others in a running competition. That’s interesting! If it is 100m or 200m, there is not much you can say apart from

“Yay!!!!!” or “Woww!!!!”


If your friend is doing a marathon and you have to cheer, you have more time to do the cheering and so you can try something like,

“Good job! Good job!”

“Way to go, buddy! Way to go!”

“Come on! Guys! Come on!” (to push them harder)

“Move soldiers, move!” (sounding like a soldier)

“Don’t sprint! Keep the pace!” (if you know what you are saying),

“Just another kilometer /mile to go!” (make sure you are certain about the distance)

“Homestretch, keep pushing it! ” (when it is near the end)

“Home is near!” (when it is near the finishing line)

“The trophy is waiting!” (if he is leading)

“Run for your life!” (when he is behind but finishing soon)

“For your fans!” (if he has any waiting at the finishing line)


You can use your creativity, but I found one that interests me and that is,

“Beer and Music at the end!”


It may not be attractive to everyone, but definitely some, especially for some (if not most) foreigners.


I think for most people in Hong Kong, they know the word ‘beer belly/ gut’ (informal) best, due to similar sayings in Cantonese. It is referring to a fat stomach that is caused by prolonged drinking habits. However, not everybody knows that ‘small beer’ (UK informal) actually means something / someone that is relatively unimportant, because local speakers know the US version ‘small potatoes’ better, despite the fact that they mostly use it on something, and seldom someone.

eg.. His salary is small potatoes for his qualification.

The word ‘potato’ is generally used to describing someone or something in a negative way, despite the great taste it is. Apart from the ‘small potatoes’ example,


From Cambridge Online Dictionary,

‘couch potato’ noun [C] (informal)

-- a person who watches a lot of television and does not have an active style of life


From Urbandictionary,

And that has spun off a new slang,

‘mouse potato’ noun [C] (informal)

-- Someone who spends all their time on the computer surfing the net or playing games.


From The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,

‘hot potato’ noun [C] (informal)

-- A problem that is so controversial or sensitive that those handling it risk unpleasant consequences: gun control—a political hot potato. 

Combining the dictionaries with my rephrasing,

‘hot potato’ noun [C] (informal)

-- sth / sb undesirable or difficult which is not advisable to be dealt with, similar to the Chinese version of ‘hand-scorching taro’. 

Since these are simple yet commonly-used words, try to apply them today! Make yourself a few examples and you will be able to remember them!

Vocab: Interesting Names

Something devastating happened to me today, but like I always tell my students who feel the same when facing difficulties in learning English, here is always a bright side of everything. It is just whether you want to think in that way or not. If you enjoy pain, go ahead and feel bad about it; if you adore joy, laugh it up and feel lucky about yourself!’

Let’s get back to last topic.

From the word ‘Jack’, that brings up a whole new topic on meanings of names.
Have you ever tried putting your name in the dictionary to find the meaning? Well, I have. Cambridge didn’t give me anything, but Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary gave me,

Locky (adj)
-- having locks or tufts

And what is tuft? From Cambridge:

tuft (noun) [C]
-- a number of short pieces of especially hair or grass which closely grow together or are held together near the base:
eg. He had a few tufts of hair on his chin, but you could hardly call it a beard.

tufted (adjective)
-- with a tuft:
eg. the tufted duck

Riggggggggghhhhhht…… So I have hair on my bottom. I prefer that I have locks or my definition

Locky (n)
-- someone who has locks and keys, can be metaphorically referred as knowing ones troubles and having solutions at the same time, that he CAN HAVE the cake and EAT it.

What’s now? Your turn!
You can use whatever dictionary you can find including the Urban Dictionary I have recommended because you might find your name under some nasty entry. Anyway, let’s make this clear, we are not going to consider representations of short forms, like IBM or FORD.

Use the legend to find source:

U: Urban Dictionary
C: Cambridge Dictionary Online

Right, let’s begin, who shall we start?

1) ancient mesopotamian name for thunderbolt of lightning. The name Abby, was only given to those of great beauty and power.
2) Sexy hot, every boy loves her.

D: a female given name: from a Germanic word meaning “noble”.

D: a female given name: from a Greek word meaning "bringer of victory."
U: Bernice is a beautiful name for gorgeous women and girls. Bernice means precious and priceless.

Cathy = Catherine
C: Catherine wheel -- a round firework which is fixed to a stick and which spins round
D: names of many empresses.
U: The act of being extremely interesting, smart, cool, athletic, and just about every positive thing that a person can be.
eg. Wow you were so Cathy! I wish I were as Cathy as you! Man you are so Cathy. If I were that Cathy I'd probably would have a pretty Cathy life!

1) Classical Mythology. the wife of Nereus and mother of the Nereids.
2) a female given name: from a Greek word meaning “bountiful”.
U: A lady's perfectly-maintained and coiffeured hairstyle, which frames a charming, vertical smile.
eg. Although she was now over 80, her many admirers seemed to be quite content to gaze upon her DORIS all day.

1) UK OFFENSIVE a woman's sexual organs
2) US OLD-FASHIONED INFORMAL a person's bottom
D: same as C
U: same as D

D: a male given name: from a Hebrew word meaning “beloved”.
U: A formidable foe to normal people. intelligent, strong forceful. a weird hybrid of a bully and a nerd. As well as the first dictator of the America and king of the new peaceful world. Also known as Timebomb and various other variations including at least TB.
eg. I am David. All other David's fall in march as we conquer the world. For a new Earth of peace void of general stupidity.

2) a very hot guy usually nice and very funny
eg. dude he is such a david
C: Stars of David -- a star with six points which represents Judaism

1) a toilet or bathroom.
2) (sometimes initial capital letter) a fellow; guy.
3) (sometimes initial capital letter) a prostitute's customer.
1) same as D.
2) The other one is too long to include.

1) a male given name: from a Greek word meaning “farmer.”
2) British Slang. an automatic pilot on an airplane.

by George! Chiefly British Informal. (an exclamation used to express astonishment, approval, etc.)
U: A generic name used sarcastically to imply that the person being called it is an idiot. The name is derived from American president George W. Bush.
eg. Nice going George you just mispronounced every word on your cue cards.

And the list is too long to go on. How about you try and post them as comments?