ill at ease feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed. E.g. I felt ill at ease in such formal clothes.
double act: two people who work together, usually to entertain an audience. E.g. a comedy double act.
dependable: that can be relied on to do what you want or need. Reliable.
lightweight: made of thinner material and less heavy than usual. E.g. a lightweight jacket.
secure: get something. E.g. to secure a contract/deal. The team managed to secure a place in the finals. She secured 2,000 votes.
Harvard Club: a club whose membership is restricted almost entirely to alumni and faculty of one university, Harvard University. The building is sometimes used for outside corporate events such as business conferences.
nut-brown: dark brown in colour. E.g. nut-brown hair.
longish: fairly long. E.g. longish hair.
blow-dry something: to dry hair with a hairdryer and shape it into a particular style.
bundle: a number of things that belong, or are sold together. E.g. a bundle of ideas.
abrasive: /əˈbreɪsɪv/ (of a person or their manner) rude and unkind; acting in a way that may hurt other people’s feelings. E.g. an abrasive style/tone/comment. Throughout his career he was known for his abrasive manner.
rough-edged: having a rough quality : not smooth or refined. If a person has rough edges, they do not always behave well and politely. E.g. I knew him before he was successful, and he had a lot of rough edges back then.
jolt: to give somebody a sudden shock, especially so that they start to take action or deal with a situation. E.g. His remark jolted her into action. The sound jolted my memory, and I suddenly remembered what had happened.
calling: vocation. E.g. He realized that his calling was to preach the gospel.
be sold on something: (informal) to be very enthusiastic about something. E.g. We were really sold on the idea.
tackiness: the quality of being cheap, badly made and/or having no taste.
high roller: a person who spends a lot of money, especially on gambling.
wallow: /ˈwɒləʊ/ wallow in something (often disapproving) to enjoy something that causes you pleasure. E.g. She wallowed in the luxury of the hotel. To wallow in despair/self-pity (= to think about your unhappy feelings all the time and seem to be enjoying them).
pitch: talk or arguments used by a person trying to sell things or persuade people to do something. E.g an aggressive sales pitch. The candidate’s campaign pitch. Each company was given ten minutes to make its pitch.
slot: A slot machine designed for gambling. E.g. lost $100 playing the slots.
comp: a complimentary ticket, meal, etc. (= one that you do not have to pay for).
blue-collar: connected with people who do physical work in industry. E.g. blue-collar workers/voters/votes.
busing: (in the US) a system of transporting young people by bus to another area so that students of different races can be educated together.
bare: just enough; the most basic or simple. E.g. The family was short of even the bare necessities of life. We only had the bare essentials in the way of equipment. He did the bare minimum of work but still passed the exam. She gave me only the bare facts of the case. It was the barest hint of a smile.
trace: mark or sign.
jar: jar (with something) to be different from something in a strange or unpleasant way. Sp. Desentonar. E.g. Her brown shoes jarred with the rest of the outfit. The only jarring note was the cheap modern furniture.
stir: to move, or to make something move, slightly. E.g. She heard the baby stir in the next room.
stiffen: to make yourself or part of your body firm, straight and still, especially because you are angry or frightened. E.g. stiffen (with something) She stiffened with fear. I stiffened my back and faced him.
bear something to show something; to carry something so that it can be seen. E.g. The document bore her signature. He was badly wounded in the war and still bears the scars. She bears little resemblance to (= is not much like) her mother. The title of the essay bore little relation to (= was not much connected with) the contents.
spoil-sport: a person who spoils other people’s enjoyment, for example by not taking part in an activity or by trying to stop other people from doing it. E.g. Don't be such a spoilsport!
cheap shot: (in sports) a blow, shove, or tackle maliciously directed against an opponent who is defenseless or off guard.
unruffled: calm. E.g. He remained unruffled by their accusations. Emily appeared quite unruffled.
urbane: /ɜːˈbeɪn/ (especially of a man) good at knowing what to say and how to behave in social situations; appearing relaxed and confident. E.g. He was charming and urbane, full of witty conversation. I looked at the urbane, relaxed figure seated opposite.
portfolio: /pɔːtˈfəʊliəʊ/ a set of shares owned by a particular person or organization. E.g. an investment/share portfolio. A portfolio manager.
at your fingertips: near you, or available for you to use immediately. E.g. He has all the information he needs at his fingertips.
have sb eating out of your hand: to easily make someone do or think what you want. E.g. Within two minutes of walking into the classroom, she had the kids eating out of her hand.
atrium: /ˈeɪtriəm/ (pl atria /ˈeɪtriə/) a large high space, usually with a glass roof, in the centre of a modern building. E.g. The reception was held in the atrium.
beckon: to give somebody a signal using your finger or hand, especially to tell them to move nearer or to follow you. Signal. E.g. He beckoned to the waiter to bring the bill. The boss beckoned him into her office. She beckoned him to come and join them.
perch: to sit or to make somebody sit on something, especially on the edge of it. Sp. sentarse, posarse. E.g. perch (on something) We perched on a couple of high stools at the bar. Perch somebody/yourself (on something) She perched herself on the edge of the bed. My father used to perch me on the front of his bike.
flimsy: badly made and not strong enough for the purpose for which it is used. E.g. A flimsy table.
mahogany: /məˈhɒɡəni/ the hard reddish-brown wood of a tropical tree, used for making furniture. Sp. Caoba. E.g. a mahogany table.
two-bit: not good or important. Sp. de poca monta. E.g. She wanted to be more than just a two-bit secretary.
bond: an agreement by a government or a company to pay you interest on the money you have lent; a document containing this agreement. E.g. government bonds.
A bond salesman is somebody who finds buyers for bonds and sells the bonds to the buyers.
on/onto the defensive: acting in a way that shows that you expect to be attacked or criticized; having to defend yourself. E.g. Their questions about the money put her on the defensive. Warnings of an enemy attack forced the troops onto the defensive.
untuck: to become or cause to become loose or not tucked in (Sp. arropar). E.g. to untuck the blankets.
city slicker: a person who behaves in a way that is typical of people who live in big cities. Sp. urbanita. E.g. We all laughed when the city slicker ran terrified from our old cow.
Saucy: rude or referring to sex in a way that is amusing but not offensive. Cheeky. E.g. a saucy postcard. Saucy jokes.
Paradoxically: (Although the opposite would be logical or expected) in a way that seems strange, impossible or unlikely because it has two opposite features or contains two opposite ideas. E.g. Paradoxically, the less she ate, the fatter she got.
budding: beginning to develop or become successful. E.g. a budding artist/writer
stern: serious and difficult. E.g. a stern test of nerves. We face stern opposition.
deference: behaviour that shows that you respect somebody/something. E.g. The women wore veils in deference to the customs of the country. The flags were lowered out of deference to the bereaved family.
beckons: to be something that is likely to happen or will possibly happen to somebody in the future. E.g. For many kids leaving college the prospect of unemployment beckons.
pushover: a thing that is easy to do or win. E.g. The game will be a pushover.
seep: (especially of liquids) to flow slowly and in small quantities through something or into something. Synonym trickle. E.g. Blood was beginning to seep through the bandages. Water seeped from a crack in the pipe. (Figurative) Gradually the pain seeped away.
hothouse: a place or situation that encourages the rapid development of somebody/something, especially ideas and emotions. E.g. In the hothouse atmosphere of college there are plenty of opportunities for falling in love.