Word of the Week

wowWith its 120th word, Word of the Week has now come to an end. We hope you enjoyed this free feature and that it has given you an insight into the thinking and research behind the English Vocabulary Profile.

All 120 are still available to read in our archive, below. Each Word of the Week in the archive is followed by a link to the full entry for that word on the English Vocabulary Profile. To view the entries, you will need to subscribe to the EVP: to subscribe for free click here.

Word of the week: narrow

The word narrow is an adjective and a verb, but only the adjective is known prior to the C levels, in the meaning of NOT WIDE. At C2, the further adjectival meaning of LIMITED is added, as in narrow interests and a narrow interpretation of the law. The phrase a narrow escape is also at C2 and is reproduced in the entry for narrow and also in the entry for escape. The English Vocabulary Profile is an online resource, without the space constraints of a printed book, and so is able to be more user-friendly in this respect, duplicating phrases to multiple entries and avoiding the need for cross-referencing. As for the verb narrow, there are two meanings at the C levels – MAKE SMALLER at C1 and BECOME LESS at C2 – as well as the phrasal verb narrow sth down at C2. There is a separate entry in the English Vocabulary Profile for the compound adjective narrow-minded, at C1 level. Running a ‘wild card’ search for similar compound adjectives (typing *minded in the Search box) yields open-minded at C1 and broadminded at C2. It is interesting that the latter adjective tends to be produced as one word rather than being hyphenated, like the other two.
To view the full entry for narrow on the English Vocabulary Profile, please click here.

Word of the week: gather

The verb gather seems to be known by learners from B2 level. Two meanings – COME TOGETHER and COLLECT – are listed at B2 level, with a further meaning THINK added at C1. The C1 meaning is used mainly in spoken English, but we have also found examples of its use in our written learner data. Also at C1 is the phrase gather speed/strength/support, etc. Verb-noun collocations such as these are important ones to know at an advanced level and learners appear to be acquiring them systematically from C1 onwards – the learner example in the entry includes the phrase gather momentum. The entry for gather in the online resource also has a Word family panel, displaying the verb and its related noun gathering, which is listed at C1 level.
To view the full entry for gather on the English Vocabulary Profile, please click here.

Word of the week: under

The preposition under is known even at A1 level in its core meaning of LOWER POSITION. The frequent meaning LESS THAN, as in under £20, under the age of ten, under 50% seems to be known from A2 level. Further phrases with under are included at the higher levels, such as be under the impression at B2 and be under way at C2. Under also occurs in the common idioms down under, under your nose and be/feel under the weather, all of which are included at C2. It is possible to search for idioms as a separate category in the English Vocabulary Profile – for example, to find all idioms containing the word under, type this word in the Search box and select ‘idioms’ in the Category menu of Advanced search. Under is also used as a prefix and a wild card search (typing under* in the Search box) will return all the words in the English Vocabulary Profile that start with under, including underdeveloped, underestimate, undergo, underline, underlying, etc. To narrow your search for a particular level, for example C1, select ‘C1 only’ – this will restrict the search results to the words and phrases that are thought to be new for learners at C1 level.
To view the full entry for under on the English Vocabulary Profile, please click here.

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