"History is past politics, and politics present history." John Robert Seeley

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see." Winston Churchill

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing." Aristotle


Multiple Meanings

Multiple Meanings Quiz

Common Multiple Meanings (Advanced)

Multiple Meanings III: Human Characteristics


Section 1: Noun & Verb:

(root words are nouns)

  • an arch – The bridge arches over the wide river
  • an arm – We have to arm ourselves to defend against the invaders 
  • an act – Good leaders have to act responsibly 
  • a bag – I have to bag my shopping quickly at the counter
  • a ball – When I make a mistake in sketching, I ball up the paper and throw it away
  • bangs – He bangs on the door every morning
  • bark – The dog barks at every visitor
  • a bat – He will bat for the baseball team
  • a bear – We just have to grin and bear it! / I can’t bear the sound of that violin!
  • a bed – We have to bed the flowers properly or they will not grow well
  • a bill – We have to bill the customers for the product we sent them two days ago
  • a bit – The dog bit me on the leg yesterday 
  • a block – The police block the traffic when there is an accident 
  • a blow – You must blow through the mouthpiece to get sound out of the flute
  • a bluff – He is always trying to bluff me at poker
  • a border – France borders at least four different countries
  • a bow – The diplomat will bow in front of the King
  • a bowl – We go bowling every Friday
  • a box – We have to box the presents before the children get home
  • a break – Careful or you will break your arm!
  • a brush – We have to brush this floor to get it clean
  • a call – Please call me in the morning at 7 a.m. 
  • a can – We can still get the train if we hurry!
  • change – Can you change this ten euro note into coins for me please?
  • a charge – I will charge him extra for delaying me half an hour
  • a catch – Try to catch the ball when I throw it to you
  • a check – I must check out the new design to see if it looks good
  • a chest – He chested down the ball before kicking it into the net
  • a circle – The airplane is circling the airport, waiting to land
  • a clip – I have to clip these pages together, otherwise I will lose them all.
  • a club – The burglar clubbed the old man on the heading, knocking him unconscious.
  • a coach – 
  • a comb – 
  • cool – 
  • a corn – 
  • a court – 
  • a crow – 
  • a cut – 
  • a dart – 
  • a date – Archaeologists try to accurately date artefacts that they find
  • a deck – 
  • a draw – Germany drew with France / My niece drew a lovely picture of her house / The match ended in a draw 
  • a drive – We have to drive to Belfast in the morning
  • a duck – 
  • a face – We have to face her tomorrow no matter what happens
  • a fall – Be careful or you will fall! / There was a large fall of snow last night / I had a bad fall yesterday so I’m still a little sore
    “Pride Comes before the Fall”
  • a felt – I felt sick yesterday / The carpet is partially made of felt 
  • a figure – The price he quoted me was a very large figure / I found it difficult to figure out what the answer was / She has a lovely figure / The issue of disarmament figured prominently in the negotiations.
  • a file –
  • a film –
  • a fine – I was fined 90 Euros for speeding / I had to pay the speeding fine straight away
  • a float – I floated a radical idea at yesterday’s meeting / There were over ninety different floats in the parade/ I wear floats on my arms because I cannot swim
  • a fly – I am learning to fly / The fly (zip) on my jacket is broken / There are so many flies around because of the heat!
  • a fool – Be careful with him – he is always trying to fool people / He is not very smart – he’s actually a bit of a fool/ He likes to act the fool. 
  • a foot – I broke my foot when I kicked a concrete post / I hate having to always foot the bill when we go to a restaurant/ The village is located at the foot (base) of the mountain
  • a game – We like to play board games at Christmas / He is game (eager) for anything challenging/ The big corporations have gamed the system to suit themselves
  • a glass – He dropped the glass on the floor and it broke / The conservatory is entirely glassed in /
  • a grade – My grades were very low when I started university because I was always having a good time! / My teacher has to grade so many papers during his Christmas holidays / It is a very low grade of wool used in carpets
  • the ground – I tripped over the bicycle and fell on the ground / After the accident, all the other aircraft were grounded / When my parents found out I was smoking, they grounded me for three months
  • a gum – I need to gum the back of this poster so it will stick to the wall
  • the hail – I hailed a taxi / She hails from Germany / the hail storm came on very suddenly
  • a hand – I broke two fingers on my left hand / I had to hand in my report within two days of the incident / Can you give me a hand with this? It is really heavy?
  • a hang – I tried to learn Russian, but I couldn’t get the hang of it. (Couldn’t figure out/ understand it)
    – I have to hang this picture on the wall
  • a head – I have a pain in my head / He is the head (CEO) of the corporation / He will head up the investigation / He headed the ball into the net / Use your head!
  • a hide – the hide of cows is used to make shoes. (n)
    we have
    to hide the puppies before the landlord comes to the house (v)
  • a hit – I hit the tennis ball with a racket / The new song was an instant hit – it went straight to Number One in the charts
  • a hold – I hold firmly onto the handlebars when I am cycling downhill at speed / The cargo is placed in the hold of a ship
  • the ice – The lake will ice over if the temperatures drop significantly / I have to ice the cake before putting it in the fridge / The Titanic hit a large lump of ice – an iceberg.
  • an iron – The gate is made of iron / We have to iron out the problems with this new software
  • the jam/ a jam – * I really like strawberry jam / I had to jam all the clothes into the suitcase to make them fit! / I will be late – I am stuck in a traffic jam! / Can anyone fix the photocopier – it’s jammed again!
  • a jar – That music is so loud & coarse it jars my nerves! / A jar of strawberry jam
  • land –
  • a lap – He ran one full circuit of the stadium – an entire lap / Puppies love to jump up onto your lap when they are more than 6 weeks old / The cat laps up his milk quickly / He lapped up the applause enthusiastically
  • lean – He leans against the wall as he is exhausted / He is very lean – he has no excess fat whatsoever leaves –
  • a letter – I received your letter yesterday / The child likes to letter her name in gold pen / The letter ‘P’
  • lie – I need to lie down, I’m exhausted! / Don’t tell lies – it will only make me angrier! / Don’t lie to me – I know what really happened
  • line – I need a ruler to draw a straight line on the paper / We formed a line around the embassy to protest / I have to line the pitch every week before the rugby matches
  • loaf – Use your loaf! (brain) / I have to go to the shop to get a loaf of bread / Stop loafing around and get back to school – you’ll be late!
  • log – Every time I use Facebook, I have to log in / The captain of a ship keeps a log of all events / Every night, the captain of a ship logs the events of the day / We cut down the old oak tree and chopped it into logs for the fire
  • a match –
  • a nail – I have to nail this picture to the wall / We have to nail down a date for the event
  • a nap – I am going for a quick nap, for about an hour / I like to nap in the evenings
  • a net – The fishermen cast their net into the ocean / We will net a handsome profit if this business goes well
  • a note – The singer couldn’t hit the high note as she had a sore throat / I will write a note to your teacher / I noted the difference in price between the two supermarkets / He is a scientist of note
  • a page – We have to turn the page on this particular episode / I will page you once the call comes through / He was the page boy for his aunt’s wedding
  • a palm – The goalkeeper palmed the ball away from the goals / He has her in the palm of his hand / He palmed off the cheap old table as an antique
  • a park – We like to go playing in the park / I have to park my car before going into the hospital / We should park this idea until a later date /
  • a part – Studying is a very important part of my life / We will part company in the next few days when I move to a different country
  • a pass – Old people have a free pass for public transport / The midfielder passed the ball to the striker / I like to pass the time away doing crosswords / The old man passed away at 92
  • a peep – The private investigator peeped through the keyhole to see if someone was inside / I don’t want to hear a peep out of you kids! / The soldier peeped over the wall to see if the attacking army had retreated
  • a stamp – I stamp my foot on the ground to get attention / I need a 32cent stamp to send this litter / I have to stamp the letter before I send it
  • a ring – Her engagement ring was very expensive / The fighters entered the boxing ring / I had to ring my brother to get help with moving / The police ringed the building after the suspect took hostages
  • a shot – The soldier shot at the target / The shot rang out across the hills / I would like a shot of whiskey / I am not too good at driving, but I will give it a shot / The golfer’s shot veered left into the lake


Section 2: Verb / Noun / Adjective

  • Base – We should base our plans on similar companies / The base of the pole fits into the ground / The idea is just base – I find it disgusting and immoral
  • Brave
  • Brand
  • Class – Our class starts at 2 p.m. / I class it as a mistake / He is very polite and has great class
  • Diamond
  • Faint
  • Fall –
  • Fine – I was fined 90 Euros for speeding / I had to pay the speeding fine straight away / It is a fine day – not a cloud in the sky!
  • Firm – The table is made of oak and is therefore very firm / Our firm was set up in 1972 /I have to firm up the numbers in this report before I submit it
  • Fit – I have to fit extra classes in before the exam / I have to fit my new suit today so it can be finished / He exploded in a fit of temper / Most professional athletes are extremely fit.
  • Form* –
  • Fleet – The fleet is made up of 24 ships / A fleeting glance / He is ‘fleet of foot’ (quick on his feet)
  • Game –
  • Initial –
  • Key – I had to key in all 14 digits of the phone number before calling / I lost my key so I couldn’t get in last night / The key point in his argument is that climate change is accelerating
  • kid
  • light –


Section 3: Verb / Noun / Adjective / Adverb

  • Back – I like to back horses once a month (bet on horse-racing)
    My back is really in pain
    The back kitchen is full of rubbish
    He put the magazine back on the table
  • Buck –
  • Clear
  • Down
  • Fair
  • Last – He crashed on the last lap of the race /
    The last of the wine was gone by 11 p.m. /
    Will the wine last the whole party? /
    He was last heard of in 1998.
  • Left
  • Like*
  • Long


Section 4: Multiple Adjective

  • Blue – The blue car is outside the house
    I’m feeling kind of blue today (Feeling ‘down’)
  • Bright
  • Dry –
  • Dull – He is not very intelligent, he is in fact quite dull. / The table top needs to be polished – it is quite dull!
  • Heavy –
  • Sharp –
  • Soft –
  • Working –

Section 5: Multiple Nouns

  • Bulb
  • Calf
  • Case
  • Ear – My ear is sore / He has a natural ear for music.
  • Face –
  • Fair
  • Film –
  • Joker – He is always playing practical jokes on people – he is such a joker! / The Joker card is always a wild card in Poker/
  • Jumper – My grandmother bought me a new woolly jumper for Christmas / Monkeys are great jumpers!
  • lap –
  • letter –
  • trunk –


Section 6: Multiple Verb

  • draw/ drew/ drawn –
    Germany drew with France /
    My niece likes to draw pictures /
    It is important not to draw conclusions too early /
    I hate it when the doctor draws blood from my arm for a test /
  • face –
  • hurt –
  • lap –
  • lie –
  • line –
  • mark/ marks/ marked –
  • play –
  • lives/ lived/ live –
  • grow/ grows/ grown –
  • put –
  • raise –


Section 7: Verb / Adjective

  • Cool
  • Dull – Time dulls the memory.

Section 8: Prepositions

  • Down –
  • Up –
  • Bottom –
  • Side –
  • Right –
  • Left –
  • Close –
  • Into –

Section 9: Adjective / Adverb

  • hard – He pushed hard against the door / The bare floor is made of concrete so it is very hard
  • fast – The car was travelling too fast / The conversation was very fast so I found it difficult to keep up.


Section 10: Noun / Adjective

  • kind – I don’t believe that he stole that money – he is simply not that kind of person / He is very conscientious and kind – he looks after everyone




 N. B. Be aware of abstract qualities of people, as these are usually the basis for at least one question in each CAE Exam:

  • a ‘sharp’ business brain –
  • a ‘soft’ approach to disciplining a dog/ child –
  • a ‘dull’ individual –
  • a ‘bright’ individual –
  • a ‘keen’ individual –
  • a ‘tight’ individual –
  • a ‘dry’ sense of humour –









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