Advanced animal vocabulary

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Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. 

These podcasts are graded from A2 which is around lower intermediate all the way to C2 which is advanced. 

I hope you find these  podcasts useful. If you do, please leave me a rating and review as this will help other learners find these podcasts.  


This podcast is aimed at C2 learners which means that the vocabulary I’m going to speak about is very advanced. I’m going to use the English Vocabulary Profile website from Cambridge University Press to select the words and phrases and I’ll try to select vocabulary that’s related to a particular topic.

To   start off, I’m going to talk about five items of advanced vocabulary that are related to animals. The words I’m going to talk about are: cry, nest, pack, prey and trail. 


I’ll start with cry because there are some lower level meanings that you should already know. So the easiest meaning is to produce tears and sobbing noises when you are sad about something. Babies cry a lot. A slightly more advanced meaning of cry is to shout out something. It means the same as shout, but it has a sense of desperation or strong emotion. You might shout if you are angry, but you would cry if you were scared. The advanced meaning of the word cry is a noun and it means the sounds that an animal, usually a bird makes. When you are walking in the country where I live, it’s common to hear the cry of a buzzard overhead. At night, in the woods you can hear the cry of a tawny owl as it calls to its mate. The cries of a fox can be alarming because they sound like a person screaming. 

Here are two bonus advanced expressions. A shoulder to cry on and to be crying out for something. A shoulder to cry on is a person who gives sympathy to a friend who is upset. You might say: it’s good to have a shoulder to cry on or everybody needs a shoulder to cry on from time to time. To be crying out for means to need something desperately. I don’t think you would use this phrase about yourself. You could say: this room is crying out for some fresh paint. Or the public transport system is crying out for reform. When I scan through some results on google, most of the examples are about public places or systems that are crying out for some investment.


The next word is nest. This is an easy word to describe, it’s only C2 because it’s not very common. A nest is a home that a bird builds to lay their eggs in. You can buy a nesting box to put in your garden which is a little box with a hole in it for birds to build a nest in. 

The word can be used as a verb and it means to live in a nest or to build a nest. So I have a big bush in my garden that goes wild in the summer, but I can’t cut it back because birds often nest in there. 

One bonus nest expression is a nest egg. This is money that you have saved for a specific purpose. I think most people talk about a nest egg for their retirement. That is, money they have saved for when they stop working.


The next word is pack. The most common meaning of this word is to put your things into a bag when you are going on holiday. Slightly more advanced is the phrasal verb pack up which you would use when you put things away when you have finished doing something. So you might pack up at the end of a class and put your books and pencils in your school bag. Or you might need to pack up your tent at the end of a camping trip.Neither of these expressions have anything to do with animals though so they are not today’s focus. The C2 meaning of pack is a group of animals. It is a collective noun for quite a few different animals. Most common are probably dogs and wolves. Pack animals hunt together. You can have a pack of hounds, a pack of rats and even a pack of sharks. Collective nouns are good fun. My son told me a good one yesterday morning. Another collective noun for a group of rats is a mischief. However, it’s pack, as in pack of wolves that we’re focusing on today.


The next word is prey. This word describes an animal that is hunted and eaten by another animal. You have predators, which are the animals that hunt and prey, the animals that are hunted. To prey on something means to hunt and kill something. The predator at the top of the food chain is called the apex predator so you could say something like: The killer whale is the apex predator of the sea. Killer whales prey on fish, seals and even sharks. Salmon are a killer whales’ favourite prey. 

The bonus expression this time is to fall prey to something which means to be hurt by something usually through falling into a trap or deception of some kind. My mother fell prey to online scammers after her email was hacked. 


The last item of C2 vocabulary is trail. There is a B2 meaning which is similar to path, but usually through the countryside. I think that in American English, this is more common. In British English, trails often have a specific purpose. It might be to visit a series of sights or different businesses. The C2 meaning is the smells and marks and footprints and  evidence that is left by a person or animal as they walk through the countryside. A good tracker can pick up the trail of an animal and follow it to find the animal. Snails are easy to track because they leave a shiny slimy trail behind them as they crawl along. You sometimes hear news reporters saying the tornado left a trail of destruction as it swept through the town. It can also be a verb. If you trail after or trail behind someone, it means you follow them though it means you are following them without any enthusiasm. 


So there you have 5 words and quite a few bonus  expressions all related to animals. Tomorrow is Saturday so the podcast will focus on some slang or informal English.

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please leave me a comment or a review and don’t forget that you can read the transcript for this podcast and complete some language activities on

Thanks for listening

Test yourself

Drag the words into the correct gaps

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  • Susana García san
    Posted 31/01/2021 at 9:05 am

    Thanks for your valuable work.
    Not only did I like this one, but also your other podcasts and transcript.
    I’m grateful. Ta!

    Posted 18/12/2021 at 11:00 am

    Thanks, Jack. That’s very generous of you.

    Posted 23/12/2021 at 7:50 am

    My English was crying out to refresh while I found your podcast.
    Thank you, Jack.

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