Idiomatic Vocabulary for IELTS (12 of 25): “He’s a hopeless alcoholic!”

drunk man.jpg

Every language has phrases and sentences that cannot be understood by just knowing the individual words. This is known as idiomatic language, and it is a very important part of any language, including English, and is very useful for IELTS speaking. Here’s an example.

[Word stem]-olic

This means that you are addicted or highly dependent on something

This phrase is useful because it can describe many more extremes of behaviour, and has a fun and upbeat feel. It all comes from the formal word, ‘alcoholic’ describing a person who is addicted to alcohol [as in the above picture]. The ‘-holic’ suffix has now been attached to many words to show a similar dependence on various forms of goods or behaviour. Many of these now appear in dictionaries, such as …


shopaholic, and


This ‘-olic’ suffix can also be playfully twisted (with the appropriate fun intonation and facial expressions) to show even greater flexibility. For example,

I’m a bit of a …

coffeeholic. chess-aholic.
bookaholic. sleepaholic.
surfaholic. swimaholic.

The formal forms ‘alcoholic’, ‘workaholic’, ‘shopaholic’, and a few others, can be used in writing, but all the rest (immediately above) are too playful to be in IELTS Writing.

Here are some example sentences in IELTS Speaking.

“Sometimes I think I’m a coffeeholic, the way I drink the stuff.”

“Stereotypically, of course, women are assumed to be shopaholics.”

“I’m a bit of a workaholic, I’m afraid.”

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