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 English Vocabulary for ESL learners 



Commonly-used two-word expressions.

 Short informal expressions in English 



A list of informal two-word expressions, some of which are now a bit oldfashioned.

Expression Meaning Example
Chit-chat Informal conversation about unimportant matters. Stop all that chit-chat and get back to work!
Dilly-dally Waste time, especially by being slow. Come on. Don’t dilly-dally or we’ll miss the train!
Fuddy-Duddy A fussy person with old-fashioned ideas. (oldfashioned) They think I’m an old fuddy-duddy if I complain about loud music!”
Hear-hear! Used to show strong approval of what has just be said. Hear,hear! I thoroughly agree!
Higgledy-piggledy All mixed up or in total disorder. You should see her wardrobe. Everything is all higgledy-piggledy!
Hush-hush Highly secret or confidential. There’s a very hush-hush project under way in central Europe.
Knick-knacks Small ornamental objects or trinkets. The old lady's living-room was full of knick-knacks accumulated over the years.
Now, now Said when you sant to comfort someone. (oldfashioned) Now, now. Don’t cry. Everything will be all right.
So-so Neither very good nor very bad. How was the party? Just so-so, nothing great!
Tip-top Excellent; of the very best class or quality. We were lucky to find a house in tip-top condition.
Tut-tut Used to express disapproval or annoyance. (oldfashioned) Tut-tut! That’s not a nice thing to say!
Topsy-turvy Upside down or in a confused, disorganized state. The world has turned topsy-turvy since this virus arrived!
Well, well Used to express surprise. Well, well. I never thought I’d see Jack here.
Wishy-washy Insipid, weak or lacking in character. I like paintings with character, not wishy-washy watercolours.
Zig-zag Move right and left alternately. He let go of the trolley and it zig-zagged down the hill.




Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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