Appearance Vocabulary – Part 4

Welcome to our Daily English Listening Practice with this week’s series:

Appearance Vocabulary

This is the fourth piece of a 5-part unit on appearance vocabulary. Feel confident using these new words and phrases from the very start.

Please listen to the audio files for explanations.

Transcripts unavailable.

Notes from the Audio Files

He’s/She’s Aged Very Well

  • Backhanded compliment: complimenting someone, but at the same time insulting them
  • Really sharp: mentally intelligent
  • Physically active
  • Full head of hair: healthy amount of hair, not balding
  • Note: Don’t use this to speak directly to the person who is aging well.

How to use it:
“My grandparents have both aged very well. My grandad still does all kinds of DIY and my granny is always in the garden working on something. They keep themselves busy!”
“I mean, I don’t want to be rude, but she’s been aging really poorly, I don’t think she takes very good care of herself.”


  • Middle-aged man/woman
  • Mid-life crisis: a stressful/emotional point in some people’s lives when they start to get older
  • Over the hill: passing the midpoint or best years of your life (kind of a joke)
  • Midpoint: halfway
  • Soften the blow: to make bad news easier to handle

How to use it:
“People say that once you become middle-aged your priorities start to change.”
“I would describe the suspect as tall, with brown hair, middle aged and wearing a long jacket.”

To Be Getting On (A Bit)

  • America: He’s getting on (really well)
  • UK: He’s getting on a bit : more polite maybe
  • Note: Don’t use this to speak directly to the person who is getting on/along, as it would be rude.

How to use it:
“I hadn’t seen him for about 10 years, and yeah, he’s getting on a bit, but he’s still the same character underneath.”
“It’s not that he’s doing poorly, he’s just getting along slowly.”

To Be Hard Of Hearing

  • A Hearing Aid: a device to help you hear better
  • Deaf: can’t hear at all
  • A bit hard of hearing: a little more polite
  • He’s got his hearing aid in: he’s using a hearing aid
  • Don’t say: hard of “seeing” only use “Hard of Hearing”
  • Losing their sight/hearing: losing the ability to see/hear
  • My eyes are going, my ears are going: losing ability to see or hear

How to use it:
“You’ll have to speak up a little bit if you want to talk to Harry, he’s hard of hearing.”
“Over the years he’s slowly started losing his sight, so he uses really high prescription glasses.”


  • Senior Citizen
  • Retired: not legally obligated to work anymore
  • Pension plan: Money that you and your boss have put aside for your retirement
  • Fifth Wheel: An RV or motorhome that can be towed by a truck
  • Senior discount: a cheaper price offered to people over 65 usually
  • Elderly: more polite way to say “old person/people”
  • In general, I wouldn’t directly call people retirees or pensioners, but it may be used to describe communities of people over 65

How to use it:
“In the UK, pensioners get a free bus pass soon after their 65th birthday. So obviously you see a lot of them on the buses all over town.”
“Well I was expecting a much younger crowd on the cruise, but it just seemed to be a bunch of retirees out partying.”

Some of the phrases can be a little confusing at times, are you feeling comfortable using today’s words and phrases? Let us know in the comments!


Kat and Mark

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