137.- Phrases and verbs related to communication

1- To Make Eye Contact

Meaning: to try and communicate with them without using words

As I said, some ways of communicating are verbal, and others are nonverbal. So to make eye contact is a non-verbal way of communicating. We can use our eyes to tell somebody exactly what we want. We can indicate with our eyes looking left, looking right, or we raise our eyes to heaven.

We are telling somebody perhaps that we don’t believe what we’re hearing, or we’re a little bit shocked when we open our eyes wide.


She slowly raised her eyes and made eye contact with me.




2- To Come Into Contact With

When we come into contact with somebody, we do it by meeting them face to face, in the reception area, in an elevator, in the street, in a coffee house, wherever it might be. We come into contact with people every day of our lives.

We can come into contact with other things, not just people. We can come into contact with, unfortunately, the virus. So we have to be very careful now washing hands, wearing face masks.

Or you could just simply meet your friends in the coffee shop and you say,

-Ah, you never guess who I met last week.

-We haven’t seen him for ages. How did you come into contact with him?

The doctor may ask you when he’s examining you,

I’m not sure how you came into contact with that. Tell me where you’ve been.




3- To Gossip

Meaning: to talk to other people about something that you’ve heard, maybe relating to some other person who’s not with you at the time or something that will be of interest to them


It’s hard to believe, but men are more likely to gossip about celebrities.




4- Gossip (noun)

Meaning: a casual conversation about the personal or private affairs of others


Well, what’s the gossip? What are they doing? Who met who first? Who asked who out first?



5- To Butt In

Meaning: to interrupt


Do you mind if I butt in here?

So you can butt in very carefully and very considerately and very politely.

We can also use it in the context where your interruption is not really required or not welcomed. So somebody might say,

Please don’t butt in. I don’t need your help. Please don’t.

Or parents might be having a discussion, and the children are trying to ask something,

Please don’t butt in. I’m trying to have a conversation with your mother.

The Americans have another expression, which is



6- To Butt Out

When they don’t want you to be there, or they don’t want you as part of the conversation. They say,

Look, just butt out.

Meaning go away and leave us alone.



7- To Overhear

Meaning: to hear something when we are not intending on listening to a conversation

It’s not a deliberate act, but either the people don’t know that you are connected, or they don’t know that they’re speaking perhaps a little more loudly than they should, and you overhear the conversation.

You’ll never guess what I overheard when I was having lunch.

I overheard something really quite strange when I was sitting in the cafe, waiting for Michael to join me.



8- To Have A Row

Meaning: to have a deep argument with someone, usually with some shouting, some screaming, some raised voices


There was a lot of shouting from downstairs. Adam’s parents were having a row.

The next one we have is



9- To Witter

This is quite an old-fashioned word. You don’t hear it so much.

Meaning: to talk and talk without any real sense of purpose


She always witters about the old times; everybody’s heard the story a hundred times.

Your aunt Mary always witters once she’s had a glass of wine. There’s no stopping her.



10- To Grumble

Meaning: to be annoyed or angry about something and mutter in discontent

The big ogre in some of these fairy tales grumbles.


At the beginning of the pandemic, many people grumbled about wearing face masks.

They used to grumble when they had that job because the pay was so poor.




11- To Bicker

Meaning: to argue or fight about things that are not important


Children used to bicker about who got the window seat.

Bicker is what children do.

The last one is



12- To Chat Up

Meaning: to try to start an informal conversation with someone, especially if they are interested in them physically

That girl looks quite attractive. Why don’t you go and chat her up?

You never guess what happened to me. Somebody started chatting me up when I was sitting in the bar.

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