Idiomatic Vocabulary (5 of 25): those pesky little critters!


In the previous posts, I mentioned how every language has phrases and sentences that cannot be understood by just knowing the individual words. This is known as idiomatic language, and let us continue to explore this issue.

In the last post, I posted the question: in the IELTS Speaking Test, which is better: formal words (such as those on the left on the following table), or informal/idiomatic words (such as those on the right)?

regurgitative to stuff
to stifle to spew
ubiquitous claptrap
oppressive a damned thing
Orwellian jerk-offs
regime lemming-like

The answer is, both are good if it is appropriate to the situation and topic being discussed. However, with the informal situation of the IELTS Speaking, and the fact that the public version of the IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors says

IELTS Nine = uses idiomatic language naturally

… when talking about insects [see above picture], for example, the reply …

Oh, I definitely don’t like creepy crawlies. They give me the creeps, particularly cockroaches, and those pesky little critters inhabit just about every nook and cranny, don’t they?

… also shows GREAT idiomatic usage. Can you work out the meaning of …

creepy crawlies,

to give sb. the creeps,

pesky little critters,

every nook and cranny?

The fact is that the public version of the IELTS Speaking Band descriptors admits this idiomatic and informal vocabulary as sign of better speakers. Thus, it is worth learning some of this language, and we will do that in the following posts.

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