4.8 Glossary - IELTS Collocations

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abject poverty

abject poverty /ˈæbdʒektˈpɒvəti/

describes living in such poor conditions and being so poor that you have little hope or happiness

  • It is completely unacceptable that in today's world millions of people are living in abject poverty.

absolutely vital

absolutely vital /ˈæbsəluːtliˈvaɪtəl/

extremely important; essential

  • It's absolutely vital that the government acts now to prevent climate change, otherwise it will be too late.

address a problem

address a problem /əˈdresəˈprɒbləm/

take action in order to solve or overcome a problem

  • More needs to be done to the address the problems caused by students arriving late to classes.

adhere to standards

adhere to standards /ədˈhɪətəˈstændədz/

a formal way to describe something meeting the required standards set by a person, organisation etc.

  • The rules are in place to ensure that employees adhere to our high standards

antisocial behaviour

antisocial behaviour /ˌæntiˈsəʊʃəlbəˈheɪvjə/

actions or behaviour which causes distress or annoyance to other people

  • The police need to do more to tackle antisocial behaviour in this town.


bear in mind

bear in mind /ˈbeərɪnˈmaɪnd/


to take something into consideration when making a judgement or decision

  • Bear in mind (remember) that there are often delays to flights in bad weather.

boost sales/profits

boost profits /ˈbuːstˈprɒfɪts/

increase profits

  • It is hoped that the advertising campaign will boost the company's sales and profits in this quarter.

burst into laughter

burst into laughter /ˈbɜːrstɪntəˈlaːftə/

to suddenly start laughing a lot about something

  • They burst into laughter after every one of the comedian's jokes.


come up with an idea

come up with an idea /ˈkʌmˈʌpˈwɪðənaɪˈdɪə/

think of an idea or plan

  • He's come up with an excellent idea for his essay.


conduct an investigation

conduct an investigation

A formal way to describe the process of investigating a crime

  • The police are conducting an investigation into the robbery.

confront issues

confront issues /kənˈfrʌntˈɪʃjuːz/

to try to analyse and explain problems or differences relating to a topic or idea

  • The book attempts to confront a number of issues that have arisen in the field over the last few decades.

critical analysis

critical analysis /ˈkrɪtɪkələˈnælɪsɪs/


a piece of writing, e.g. essay or article that is very detailed and tries to find problems, faults etc. with a piece of work

  • The essay gives a critical analysis of international trade agreements.


deal with a problem

deal with a problem /ˈdiːəlˈwɪðəˈprɒbləm/

try and solve a problem

Work's pretty stressful at the moment. We're dealing with a lot of problems.

dire consequences

dire consequences /ˈdaɪəˈcɒnsəkwensɪz/

extremely bad results from something

  • Failure to reach an agreement between the two countries will have dire consequences, with war a likely outcome.

draconian measures

draconian measures /drəˈkeʊniənˈmeʒəz/

action taken by an authority to prevent something which is seen as extremely severe

  • There has been widespread criticism of the police's draconian measures to stop the protests.


evidence emerges

evidence emerges /ˈevɪdənsˈəˈmɜːdʒɪz/

describes new evidence being made available to the public, especially through the press or courts

  • Evidence has emerged that the government was involved in the torture of prisoners.

experience a fall

experience a fall /ɪɡˈspɪeriːənsəˈfɔːl/

used to describe something becoming lower or higher in number or amount

  • It is predicted that sales will experience a fall next year as economic growth continues to decline.


fierce competition

fierce competition /ˈfɪesˌkɒmpəˈtɪʃən/

describes two groups trying to win against each other by competing very strongly, especially used to describe competition between businesses

  • The company saw it's profits fall by 20% owing to fierce competition from rival stores.

fundamentally different

fundamentally different /ˈfʌndəmentəliˈdifrənt/

different in the most important parts

  • The approach I took to this essay was fundamentally different to my last one


get sacked

get sacked /ˈɡetˈsækt/

to lose your job because you perform badly or do something that is against the rules

  • He got sacked for repeatedly being late for work.

gifted child

gifted child /ˈɡɪftɪdˈtʃaɪld/

a child who is naturally very clever, especially one who shows an remarkable talent in one or more areas

  • From a very early age it was clear he was a gifted child and he ended up doing his final high school exams at a very early age.


go down in history

go down in history /ˈɡəʊˈdaʊnɪnˈhɪstri/

be remembered and recognised in history

  • The Beatles will go down in history as one of the greatest bands ever.

go on strike

go on strike /ˈɡəʊɒnˈstraɪk/ 

describes when a group of workers decide not to work for a short amount of time to protest against conditions, pay etc.

  • The workers of the mining company went on strike to protest against the low pay they receive and the dangerous conditions they have to work under.

greatly appreciate

greatly appreciate /ˈɡreɪtliəˈpriːʃieit/

to be very thankful and happy for something

  • I greatly appreciate all the help you've given me with my essay.

growing disparity

growing disparity /ˈɡrəʊɪŋdɪsˈpærɪti/

an increasing difference between two things

  • There is a growing disparity between the rich and the poor in this country.


harmful to the environment

harmful to the environment /ˈhaːrmfəltuːðəenˈvaɪrəmənt/

causing damage to the environment

  • Many chemicals are extremely harmful to the environment and should be banned.

highly educated

highly educated /ˈhaɪliˈedʒjəkeɪtɪd/

describes someone who has a very high quality and high level of education

  • Her CV demonstrates she is a highly-educated individual.

highly unlikely

highly unlikely /ˈhaɪliʌnˈlaɪkli/

not at all probable to happen

  • It is highly unlikely I will have enough money to afford a holiday this year.


implement a plan

implement a plan /ˈɪmpləmentəˈplæn/

put a plan into operation

  • The train company will begin to implement their plans to provide more trains and cheaper services in the coming months.

increase dramatically

increase dramatically /ɪnˈkriːsdrəˈmætɪkli/

a very large and sudden increase in something

  • The number of teenage smokers in the UK increased dramatically between the years 2000 and 2005.

indigenous people

indigenous people /ɪnˈdɪdʒənəsˈpiːpəl/

people who are from a particular place or culture instead of coming there from somewhere different to live

  • Canada's indigenous peoples make up around 1.5 million, around 4% of the total population.

infectious disease

infectious disease /ɪnˈfekʃəsdɪˈziːz/

A disease which is easily passed from one person to another

  • The government are meeting to discuss how better to respond to the outbreak of infectious diseases such as Ebola.


joint effort

joint effort /ˈdʒɔɪntˈefət/

Done together with another person or other people

  • The research was a joint effort between a number of different universities.

jump to conclusions

jump to conclusions /ˈdʒʌmptəkənˈkluːʒənz/

to arrive at an opinion without hearing all of the evidence relating to it

  • We shouldn't jump to any conclusions until the case goes to court.


key advantage

key advantage /ˈkiːədˈvaːntɪdʒ/

A particular part of something or a particular skill that gives something or someone an advantage over something or someone else

  • One of the key advantages of cycling to work is the amount of money you save from not having to buy petrol.


lay off staff

lay off staff /ˈleɪjɒfˈstaːf/

for a company to stop giving work to its workers because there is not enough available

  • Hundreds of staff from the factory have been laid off.

levy a tax

levy a tax /ˈleviəˈtæks/

describes the action of officially putting a tax on something (formal)

  • In order to develop the infrastructure in my country our government should levy more taxes on multinational companies.

live up to expectations

live up to expectations /ˈlɪˈvʌpˈtuːekspekˈteɪʃənz/

for something to be as good or satisfying as you believe or are made to believe

  • The film was no way as good as the critics made out. It really failed to live up to my expectations!

look forward to

look forward to (something) /ˈlʊkˈfɔːrədtuː/

to have an appointment or event planned in the future which you are excited about because you think it will be enjoyable

  • I'm really looking forward to going out on Saturday.


make a commitment

make a commitment /ˈmeɪkəkəˈmɪtmənt/

to decide you will make a big effort towards doing or completing something

  • He has really been making a strong commitment towards his studies at the moment.

make a living

make a living /ˈmeɪkəˈlɪviŋ/

earn enough money from a job to live off

  •  The pay in my job is not great but it's enough to make a living.

make a proposal

make a proposal /ˈmeɪkəprəˈpəʊzəl/


to make a formal suggestion about something

  • The council have made a proposal to build a new supermarket on the edge of town.

make a stand against something

make a stand against something /ˈmeɪkəˈstændəˈɡeɪnstˈsʌmθɪŋ/

to protest about something

  • We must make a stand against the proposal to build a new supermarket. It will bring too much traffic to the area.

marked improvement

marked improvement /ˈmaːkt imˈpruːvmənt/

a noticeable improvement of something

  • His latest essay shows a marked improvement on his previous ones.

miscarriage of justice

miscarriage of justice /ˈmɪskærɪdʒəvˈdʒʌstɪs/

describes somebody being found guilty in a court of law when really they are innocent

  • After the guilty verdict, the defendant and his supporters claimed a miscarriage of justice had taken place.

modest increase

modest increase /ˈmɒdɪstˈɪnkriːs/

a small increase in something

  • We have had a modest increase in the number of students enrolling on our courses.

mounting concern

mounting concern /ˈmaʊntɪŋkənˈsɜːn/

increasing worry about something or someone

  • There is mounting concern for the safety of the fishermen, who have been missing for several days now.


novel solution

novel solution /ˈnɒvəlsəˈluːʃən/

a new and original answer to a problem

  • The book offers a novel solution to the problems caused by large-scale economic migration.


offer an explanation

offer an explanation /ˈɒfəənˌeksplənˈeɪʃən/


give a reason for why something happened

  • Nobody I asked could offer an explanation for why so few people voted in the election.

opportunity arises

opportunity arises /ˈɒpətuːnɪtiəˈraɪzɪz/

describes any chance that you get to change paths or do something news, especially in your work or studies

  • An opportunity arose for me to work in China, so I went and spent a year there.

overwhelming majority

overwhelming majority /ˈəʊvəwelmɪŋməˈdʒɒrɪti/

a very large majority of people

  • The overwhelming majority of people are in favour of the government having peace talks with the rebels.


pose a threat

pose a threat /pəʊzəˈθret/

describes something that represents some kind of danger to somebody or something

  • Nuclear weapons pose a threat to the whole world.

pre-emptive strike

pre-emptive strike /ˈpriːemptɪvˈstraɪk/

An attack made to prevent the enemy from attacking you or action you take now to avoid unfavourable circumstances happening to you in the future

  • The Prime Minister has suggested launching pre-emptive strikes against militants in the region.

provoke an outcry

provoke an outcry /prəˈvəʊkənˈaʊtcraɪ/

to cause a angry reaction from a person or group of people

  • The government's decision to raise taxes provoked an outcry.

put down a deposit

put down a deposit /pʊtˈdaʊnədəˈpɒzɪt/

to pay part of a fee for something in advance

  • People are being encouraged to put down deposits on new homes, thanks to low interest rates.


rampant inflation

rampant inflation /ˈræmpəntinˈfleɪʃən/

Inflation that is rising dramatically and is out of control

  • Despite desperate attempts to control the country's rampant inflation, the value of the currency continues to plummet.

renewable energy

renewable energy /rɪˈnjuːəbəlˈenədʒi/

energy which comes from a source that does not run out

  • To solve the problem of climate change, I think more governments should invest in renewable energy.

rising unemployment

rising unemployment /ˈraɪzɪŋʌnemˈplɔɪmənt/

the state of having more and more people who do not have a job

  • The government have been heavily criticised for the country's rising unemployment rates.

rough idea

rough idea /ˈrʌfaiˈdɪə/

Having a general idea about something, but not being sure of some of the details about it

  • I have a rough idea of what I want to study at university, something relating to business probably, but I am not exactly sure what course.

run-down areas

run-down areas /ˈrʌndaʊnˈeəriəz/

poor areas of a city which have not been looked after by the local government very well

  • It's a good idea to avoid the outskirts of the city, as there are several run-down areas with high crime rates.


slight increase

slight increase /ˈslaɪtˈɪnkriːs/

a small increase

  • There's been a slight increase in the number of university applicants this year.

soaring crime rates

soaring crime rates /ˈsɔːrɪŋˈkraɪmˈreɪts/

describes crime rates rising very fast (to soar means to rise quickly and suddenly)

  • We're facing soaring crime rates in this city, and its about time the government took action.

spoilt brat

spoilt brat /ˈspɔɪəltˈbræt/

a child who behaves very badly and is given everything they want by their parents

  • Good parents do not allow their children to turn into spoilt brats.

stimulate growth

stimulate growth /ˈstɪmjəleɪtˈɡrəʊθ/


describes attempts made by a government to try and create the economy to grow

  • After the financial crisis, the government desperately tried to stimulate economic growth.

stroke of luck

stroke of luck /ˈstrəʊkəvˈlʌk/

describes having something lucky happening to you

  • I wasn't going to go on holiday but then I had a stroke of luck and won some money on the lottery!

strongly influence

strongly influence /ˈstrɔŋliˈɪnfluːəns/

to considerably affect somebody's actions, opinion, judgement etc. 

  • Her political opinion is strongly influenced by her parents.

subtle distinction

subtle distinction /ˈsʌtəldɪˈstɪnkʃən/

a small but often important difference between two things

  • In teaching, there's a subtle distinction between being friendly and being weak.


sudden shift

sudden shift /ˈsʌdənˈʃɪft/

a quick and unexpected change

  • There has been a sudden shift in opinion in favour of the ban on smoking in public.


take for granted

take (something) for granted /ˈteɪkfəˈɡraːntɪd/

to believe something is true without making sure or checking that it is first

  • She seemed to take it for granted that I would help her with her homework.

take up a challenge

take up a challenge /ˈteɪkʌpəˈtʃælɪndʒ/

to decide to do something that is difficult

  • I wasn't sure about signing up for the marathon as I have never done one before, but I've decided to take up the challenge!

take up a new post

take up a new post /ˈteɪˈkʌpəˈnjuːˈpəʊst/

to start a new job

  • My application for Director of Studies was successful and I will take up the new post next week.

thirst for knowledge

thirst for knowledge /ˈθɜːstfəˈnɒlɪdʒ/

to show great enthusiasm for learning new things

  • Her thirst for knowledge led her to succeed at university and after become a professor.

thoroughly enjoy

thoroughly enjoy /ˈθʌrəliˈendʒɔɪ/


to really enjoy something

  • We thoroughly enjoyed the theatre performance last night.


undergo a change

undergo a change /ˈʌndəɡəʊəˈtʃeɪndʒ/

describes the process of something changing (also undergo a transformation)

  • Children undergo a complete transformation when they become teenagers.


widespread belief

widespread belief /ˈwaɪdspredbɪˈliːf/

an idea or opinion that many people have

  • There is widespread belief that the government will raise taxes next week.

wildly inaccurate

wildly inaccurate /ˈwaɪldliɪnˈækjərət/

not at all correct or accurate

  • His predictions turned out to be wildly inaccurate.


yawning gap

yawning gap /ˈjɔːnɪŋˈɡæp/

a very large difference in two things

  • There exists nowadays a yawning gap between rich and poor.

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