Learn About Acronyms While Listening To English Spoken Natively Ep 368

A photograph of a laughing man with headphones sitting at table. Used to highlight one of the English acronyms used in this English spoken natively lesson.

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English Spoken Natively

If you're investing your valuable time learning to speak a new language, like English, you are much better off listening to English being spoken by a native English speaker. If you intend to use your new English language skills, then practising your English language skills with the people you are eventually going to be speaking with is a much more efficient approach to learning.

Listening to native English speakers is going to fine tune your listening skills to the correct intonation and pronunciation of words. You are going to comprehend what you hear more efficiently.

So today’s English lesson is all about acronyms, which seem to have invaded the English language with mobile SMS (An acronym for simple message service) messages and online chat. So today we pick a common English acronym, one you might not see as much online, but it’s used in everyday English conversations all the time.

Just a quick mention of our YouTube channel, a quick hello to our new subscribers, over 5,000 of them now! Also just to explain why the YouTube channel might be of use to you, it’s just a simple way of listening to our lesson AND reading the transcript at the same time, as we provide a custom set of subtitles for every video we publish, and we publish the videos on the same day as our podcast release. So maybe look to see if it’s useful to you and subscribe if you like it.

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 3 word phrases:

Over The Top4
Is An Acronym4
Spent Too Much3
OTT With Cake2
I’M Going To2

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: Learn About Acronyms While Listening To English Spoken Natively

Hi and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. How are you doing? Are you managing OK during these days of pandemic and all the restrictions that have to be placed upon us? In the UK, the weather is getting colder and autumn is coming, just as the restrictions are getting more severe again. So it’s not as easy as it was in the summer, when you could just go outside, have a nice time and forget about the pandemic. Let’s hope things improve soon!

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But we are here, as usual. Adept English, providing you with listening material so that you can improve your English, spoken English especially. As you probably know, we release two podcasts a week, so that you’ve always got new material to listen to, free spoken English lessons.

However, if you’re new to us, you may not realise that we offer English language courses – and one of our courses is free! We have a course called The Seven Rules of Adept English – and this course is really special, because it introduces you to the ideas behind our natural method of language learning.

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Seven really clear concepts, all of which will help your English language learning, improve your spoken English – and give you advice on how best to use our podcasts, so that you can make the most use of your listening time. The course is also a video course – we tend usually just to do audio, so it’s different in that way too. Go to our website at adeptenglish.com and sign up for our free course today. It’ll make a big difference to your learning.


Today’s expression is an acronym – and what is an acronym?

So today I’m going to talk about an expression which we use in English all the time and which if you are around native English speakers, certainly in the UK, you’ll come across. And that expression is OTT. So that’s spelt in capitals, literally as O-T-T. So it’s what’s called an acronym, A-C-R-O-N-Y-M and acronyms are words which are usually put into capital letters, though not always if you’re using them informally. And the letters each stand for a word.

I think audiences have hit the wall with CGI and special effects. They have seen so many over-the-top events that they can't suspend disbelief.
⭐ Sylvester Stallone, Actor

So an example of an acronym is IQ, which stands for ‘Intelligence Quotient’. If you have a high IQ, it means you’re clever, you’re intelligent. You have a ‘high quotient’, a high degree of intelligence. Another acronym you’ll know would be USA – so of course that stands for United States of America. So an acronym is where you say the letters, instead of the whole phrase.

OTT means ‘Over The Top’

So OTT is an acronym. First of all, it’s an acronym that’s not ‘official’, it’s not formal language. It’s like LOL for Laugh Out Loud, which people message to show that they found something funny, or BRB – Be Right Back, meaning ‘I’m going to be away from my phone or computer for a few minutes, but wait for me!’ So OTT is an acronym with a slang usage. And it stands for ‘Over The Top’.

And what we’re saying with OTT, is that something is excessive, something is being done to excess, more than is necessary, perhaps more than is desirable – so it’s used as an adjectival phrase – it’s a phrase that’s an adjective. ‘It’s over the top, OTT’. So remember it’s slang, and informal. And also that the person speaking is making a personal judgement about something. It’s a matter of opinion in other words – one person’s OTT may be another person’s ‘not enough’.


An autumn portrait photograph of a beautiful redhead woman. English spoken by native English speakers lesson.

©️ Adept English 2020

Examples of OTT used in sentences

  • Let’s use some examples, to help you remember, but also to show you how you might use OTT. So here are some sentences:-

  • Her wedding was completely OTT. It went on for two days and there were five hundred people there.

  • I’ve gone a bit OTT with cake – I think there’s way more than we’re gonna eat.

  • His reaction was OTT – it was just a bit of a joke.

  • Her clothes were OTT – she looked as though she was going clubbing, not out to walk the dog.

  • I’ve spent too much this month. I went OTT buying things for my new kitchen.

Helpful explanation of OTT used in these examples

OTT Meaning extravagant or excessive, too much

So you can see from these examples that an event, something like a wedding, a christening or a party can be OTT. And here OTT means ‘extravagant’, over the top in terms of the number of people there, or the amount of money spent, or just the extent of the festivities.

Or as in the second example, ‘I’ve gone OTT with cake’ – OTT here means that I’ve bought too much or made too much. There’s more cake than we need. So you can easily go OTT with the catering, with making food. You provide or you make too much food for the number of people.

OTT Meaning emotional and ‘out of proportion

In the third example, ‘His reaction was OTT – it was just a bit of a joke’. What this means is that someone reacted negatively and out of proportion, much too strongly.

It was ‘just a bit of a joke’, he should’ve seen the funny side but he reacted instead with a lot of emotion. So if you’re talking about someone having an OTT reaction, it means that they’re being far more emotional about something than you might expect. It’s too much, if you like.

OTT meaning too much for the situation (but fine in another situation)

The fourth example was ‘Her clothes were OTT – she looked as though she was going clubbing, not out to walk the dog’. So in this example, the clothes are OTT. We use OTT when we’re describing someone’s appearance, or more specifically the things that they choose about their appearance. So hair could be OTT, clothes can be OTT – in this example, the person is dressed as though going out to a night club, rather than going to walk the dog.

Make-up can also be OTT – if there’s a lot of make-up and it looks a bit too much, given that say you’re going hill walking or to the beach or swimming. Lots of make-up might be fine if you’re going out in the evening, say.

OTT meaning you’ve done something too much, like spending too much

And the last example, ‘I’ve spent too much this month. I went OTT buying things for my new kitchen’. So OTT can be used about spending money. If you go OTT on your credit card, it means that you’ve spent too much, more than you’re comfortable with.

Other words for this – your spending could be ‘lavish’, L-A-V-I-S-H, meaning that you’re not really stuck to a budget, you’ve been generous, rather than sensible. But OTT also implies ‘too much’, so probably another similar adjective might be ‘extravagant’, E-X-T-R-A-V-A-G-A-N-T. An extravagant meal for example might be one where there were six courses. More food than anybody needs to satisfy their hunger perhaps, but maybe pleasurable and luxurious.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

Anyway, there we have it. Five examples of how to use the slang expression OTT to help you improve your English, spoken English especially. English speaking improves through listening – and through listening and repetition, you are able to remember words and phrases much better! But you already knew that!


Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.




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