OIL SPILL: The Word Of the Month May 2010

Every month, we take a look at a word in the headlines, in English, for your English. See more at The Word of the Month.

Photo {{link=http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oiled_bird_3.jpg target=_blank}}Mila Zinkova{{/link}}


Oil is a viscous liquid, usually extracted from plants or minerals. Oils are used as lubricants, fuels, perfumes, foods, etc.

A spill is the release or escape of a liquid from a container.

An Oil Spill is the (accidental) release of liquid petroleum into the environment.


BP/Deepwater Horizon, USA (2010), Montara, Australia (2009), Erika, France (1999), Exxon Valdez, USA (1989), plus many, many more sadly.

Don’t cry over spilled milk is a common English expression, meaning there’s no point regretting what happened in the past. You can cry over spilled oil, though.

Fun Facts:

Oil and water, unlike Starsky and Hutch, fish and chips, gym and glish, are NOT a good mix.

Oil can be virgin, extra virgin, pure or refined, just like people!

‘Olive Oyl’ is the name of Popeye’s wife in the American cartoon ‘Popeye’.


Don’t confuse oil with grease (the animal fat, not the John Travolta musical).

Ironically, the highest per capita consumption of olive oil occurs in Greece (the country, not the animal fat). Hopefully they can still afford all that oil!

Take a look through our Word of the Month archives, or improve your English with gymglish.com.

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