Idiomatic Vocabulary for IELTS (16 of 25): Let’s talk about drugs.

Muscle 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.

To be on steroids

This is an adjectival phrase meaning extremely developed when compared to something else. Body builders take ‘steroids’ [a hormonal drug’] in order to develop abnormally large muscles. Similarly, when comparing a strong with a weak form, we can consider the strong one to be ‘on steroids’. This is very idiomatic and descriptive (good), but not easy to use (bad). Try inventing some comparison and seeing if you can make these phrase work for you.

Examiner:     Did you like Shianghai?

Speaker:     In some ways. It’s sort of like Taipei on steroids.

Here are some example sentences in IELTS Speaking.

  • “My ambition has always been to climb Mount Everest, but basically the only thing I’ve done is ascend Yang Ming Shan – let’s call it Everest without steroids.”
  • “The chess player, Kasparov, played a computer called ‘Deeper Blue’ – which was, basically, just your average computer on steroids – and he lost the match.”
  • “The competition in schools in Taiwan is insane. It’s like a dog-eat-dog world on steroids. My teenage cousins, would you believe, are seeing psychiatrists due to the stress!”

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