IELTS Vocabulary By Topics

If you are studying for the IELTS test, then this is the vocab page for you. I have selected a variety of IELTS Vocabulary By Topics.

The following are the main topics of this article:

  1. Crime and punishment.
  2. Media and advertising.
  3. The environment.
  4. business and Money.
  5. Government.
  6. Sport and exercise.
  7. Space exploration.

Crime and punishment

1. crime of passion

Meaning: refers to a crime, especially murder, caused by sexual jealousy.

Example: People who carry out crimes of passion often regret their actions later, when they reflect on what they have done.

2. to serve a prison sentence

Meaning: to carry out confinement in prison as a punishment.

Example: They are serving long prison sentences for their part in the assassination.

3. to turn to crime/ drugs

Meaning: To start committing crimes or using drugs.

Example: During periods of high youth unemployment, some youngsters turn to crime to obtain money.

4. to be tough on crime

Meaning: To punish crime severely.

Example: The crime rate is likely to fall if governments take strong measures to be tough on crime.

5. to contest the verdict

Meaning: not agree with the decision of the jury after the trial of a case.

Example: In many countries, the accused person has the right to contest the verdict which was reached in the court.

6. to take into consideration

Meaning: to think about a particular fact or detail and allow it to have some influence when you are making a decision.

Example: The previous criminal records of those who are found guilty must be taken into consideration when a sentence is passed.

7. to reintegrate back into society/ community

Meaning: to restore someone through education or therapy.

Example: There is an increasing focus among policy-makers and practitioners on identifying programs and strategies that will help prisoners successfully reintegrate back into their communities without re-offending.

8. to be soft on crime

Meaning: not to impose strict punishments on offenders.

Example: In order to deter criminals effectively, governments must not follow policies which are soft on crime.

9. a policy of zero tolerance

Meaning: a policy of applying laws very strictly, so that every illegal action is punished, even if it is not very serious.

Example: I would argue that the most effective way to reduce crime is to implement a policy of zero tolerance.

10. a chance of rehabilitation

Meaning: a chance of helping someone to have a normal life after serving a prison sentence.

Example: We should give ex-offerders a chance of rehabilitation and teach them how to become useful members of society.

11. to embark on something

Meaning: To start something new.

Example: Young people sometimes embark on a life of crime as a result of the bad influence of criminals whom they know.

12. to make a fresh start

Meaning: to try something new after making mistakes in one’s life.

Example: I believe that people should have the opportunity to make a fresh start after they are released from prison.

13. to act as a deterrent

Meaning: a measure which makes somebody less likely to do something.

Example: Longer prison sentences would act as a deterrent and would be one useful measure to tackle rising crime.

14. to release back into society.

Meaning: to give freedom to prisoners who have finished their sentences.

Example: He was released back into society after serving two years of a five-year sentence.

15. corporal punishment

Meaning: to punish by physically harming the offender.

Example: Many schools have abandoned the policy of corporal punishment for children who misbehave and prefer to give extra work or detention after school instead.

16. drug trafficking

Meaning: importing and selling illegal drugs.

Example: Some people argue that legalising drugs would put an end to the evil of drug trafficking and the violence associated with it.

17. a non-custodial sentence

Meaning: a sentence which is not served in prison.

Example: There is a wide range of non custodial sentences which a court may give to offenders, including: fines, probation orders, or community service orders.

18. to be found guilty

Meaning: the court decided that the person did commit the crime.

Example: If people are found guilty of committing serious offences, heavy punishments should be imposed.

19. the full weight of the law

Meaning: all the strictest punishments available according to the laws of a country.

Example: In order to deter crime, the full weight of the law must be imposed for all serious offences.

20. to impose a ban on sth

Meaning: to enforce an official rule which says that something is not allowed.

Example: Most governments have imposed a ban on the sale of tobacco to those aged under 16.

21. to convict a criminal

Meaning: to find an offender guilty and to punish them.

Example: Once the courts have convicted a criminal, the punishment should be severe.

22. law-abiding citizens

Meaning: people who obey and respect the law.

Example: The government could take some effective steps to protect law-abiding citizens.

23. to enforce the law

Meaning: to make sure that the law is obeyed

Example: The role of the police and the courts is to enforce the law.

24. capital punishment

Meaning: punishment by death.

Example: In some states of America, those who commit murder are sometimes sentenced to capital punishment.

25. forensic evidence

Meaning: connected with the scientific tests conducted by the police when investigating a crime.

Example: Modern police methods include the use of forensic evidence, such as DNA samples, to investigate crimes.

26. to install surveillance cameras

Meaning: to put cameras in a place where a crime is likely to be committed.

Example: The security company has installed surveillance cameras at all the entrances and exits of the shopping mall.

27. to put on probation

Meaning: to make a convicted person see an official at regular intervals to check on their good behavior, as an alternative to going to prison.

Example: The young offender was put on probation, as his crime was not serious enough to send him to prison.

28. to punish wrongdoers

Meaning: to punish people who do something illegal.

Example: Stricter measures must be introduced by governments to punish wrongdoers.

29. to arrest suspects

Meaning: to stop and hold people who the police think may have committed a crime

Example: The government should give the police greater powers to arrest suspects.

30. the letter of the law

Meaning: the exact wording of the law, without considering any excuses.

Example: I believe that the courts must apply the strict letter of the law and impose the harshest possible sentences on criminals.

Media and advertising.

1. to broadcast propaganda

Meaning: to send out a programme on television or radio that may be false or exagerrated in order to gain support for a political leader, a party, etc.

Example: The media in North Korea broadcast propaganda every day about the dangers of war with South Korea and the USA.

2. a leading article

Meaning: a piece of writing which deals with the most important news item of the day. Example: Newspapers in my country often have a leading article on some sensational crime that has been committed.

3. editorial policy

Meaning: the policy of the newspaper, as decided by the person in charge of producing the newspaper

Example: The editorial policy of a newspaper determines whether serious news items are reported in a responsible way.

4. sensational journalism

Meaning: reporting which tries to get your interest by presenting facts or events as more shocking or worse than they are.

Example: Unfortunately, sensational journalism has resulted in much public distrust of the media.

5. to carry a story

Meaning: to include an item in a news report.

Example: The media nowadays carries too many stories about celebrities and trivia and not enough serious news.

6. news coverage

Meaning: the reporting of news and sport in newspapers, tv, or radio.

Example: The US presidential election received global news coverage, so that the whole world became interested in the outcome.

7. to make front-page headlines

Meaning: to be an important item of news in the newspapers, on radio, or TV.

Example: It seems that every insignificant event in the lives of celebrities makes front page headlines.

8. breaking news

Meaning: newly received information about an event that is currently taking place OPIC.

Example: One disadvantage of the printed media is that it is unable to carry the latest breaking news stories.

9. up to the minute

Meaning: having the latest information.

Example: Newspapers are unable to provide up to the minute news coverage of events as they happen.

10. stale news

Meaning: information that is no longer interesting or new, because it has already been reported.

Example: Newspapers have now become only a source of stale news, which is a major reason why they have become less popular.

11. falling circulation

Meaning: the decline in the number of copies of a newspaper sold each day.

Example: As a result of their falling circulation, newspapers are losing advertising revenue.

12. celebrity endorsement

Meaning: A form of brand or advertising campaign that involves a well known person using their fame to help promote a product or service.

Example: Celebrity endorsement by famous TV stars is commonly used by companies to encourage consumers to trust and buy their products.

13. to subscribe to a magazine.

Meaning: to pay money regularly in order to receive a copy of a magazine.

Example: Those with a strong interest in a particular field sometimes prefer to subscribe to a magazine which has articles relating to that area.

14. the financial/business sections

Meaning: Newspapers have increasingly turned to providing expert, detailed analysis of recent events, for example in their financial or business sections.

15. online advertising

Meaning: advertising a product or service on the internet.

Example: The growing popularity of online advertising has resulted in a loss of revenue for the printed media in general.

16. to slash the prices of products

Meaning: to reduce the price dramatically.

Example: Supermarkets, for example, always carry huge in-store advertisements when they slash the prices of products.

The environment

1. to discharge chemical waste

Meaning: to dispose of waste products from chemical processes.

Example: Nowadays, more and more company and industrial zones have been discharging chemical waste into rivers, causing death to many fish and other aquatic animals.

2. environmental degradation

Meaning: the process or fact of the environment becoming worse.

Example: Africa is a continent in which environmental degradation is evident in the spread of deserts and the extinction of animal species.

3. to take action on global warming

Meaning: to do what has to be done on problems related to global warming.

Example: There have been numerous international conferences to warn of the dangers, but many governments have refused to take action on global warming.

4. to be bio-degradable

Meaning: a substance or chemical that can be changed to a natural harmless state by the action of bacteria.

Example: Most plastics are not biodegradable, and remain as waste products in the environment for thousands of years.

5. to deplete natural resources

Meaning: To reduce the amount of natural resources.

Example: Timber companies must not be allowed to deplete natural resources by cutting down trees without planting new trees to replace them.

6. ozone layer depletion

Meaning: refers to a steady decline in the total amount of ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere

Example: Ozone layer depletion has the effect of allowing harmful radiation from the sun to penetrate the atmosphere and this increases the risk to humans of skin cancer.

7. an ecological crisis

Meaning: a serious situation that occurs when the environment of a species or a population changes in a way that destabilizes its continued survival.

Example: Environmental degradation caused by human activity is provoking an ecological crisis which threatens our existence.

8. carbon footprint

Meaning: a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide that is produced by the daily activities of a company or person.

Example: By providing subsidies, governments should encourage companies to reduce their carbon footprint through energy efficiency or other ‘green measures’.

9. to cut down on emissions

Meaning: to reduce the amount of gases sent out into the air.

Example: People must be made aware of the need to cut down on emissions from their cars if we are to reduce air pollution.

10. to fight climate change

Meaning: To try to prevent changes in climate patterns, such as rainfall, temperature and winds.

Example: Unless we consume less of the Earth’s natural resources, it will be impossible to fight climate change and safeguard our future.

Business and Money

1. To take something into consideration/ account

Meaning: to consider or remember something when judging a situation.

Example: No business will succeed if it fails to take the needs of customers into account/into consideration.

2. To break into a market

Meaning: to enter a market with the connotation that entrance to the industry was difficult.

Example: It is difficult to break into the market for designer sportswear because there is too much competition from leading brands like Nike.

3. To keep someone’s word

Meaning: to uphold one’s promise; to do as one says.

Example: I lent him a lot of money, so I hope that he keeps his word and repays the loan.

4. To reach a consensus

Meaning: to come to an agreement.

Example: The directors of the company have reached a consensus on the new business plan.

5. To make the most of something

Meaning: to make something appear as good as possible; to exploit something; to get as much out of something as is possible.

Example: They designed the advertisements to make the most of the product’s features.

6. To go out of business

Meaning: if a company goes out of business, it stops doing business permanently, especially because it has failed.

Example: If we sold food at those prices we’d soon go out of business.

7. To do market research

Meaning: to collect information about what people buy and why they choose it.

Example: Advertising companies do a lot of market research before they design promotion campaigns.

8. To make cutbacks

Meaning: to decrease, to reduce.

Example: The company made cutbacks at their stores in New York and many employees were dismissed.

9. To manage expectations

Meaning: Seek to prevent disappointment by establishing in advance what can realistically be achieved or delivered by a project, undertaking, course of action, etc.

Example: the company needs to manage the expectations of investors by presenting a realistic figure for next year’s estimated profits.

10. To make a calculation

Meaning: to assess a situation and figure out (or guess) the outcome.

Example: We cannot make a precise calculation of the price until we have all the costs.


1. to abide by

Meaning; (formal) to accept and act according to a law, an agreement, etc.

Example: Motorists who do not abide by the rules of the road should be severely

2. parliamentary democracy

Meaning: a system of government in which candidates are voted to represent the people of
a country in a national parliament or assembly

Example: Freedom of speech is usually one of the rights enjoyed by citizens in a
parliamentary democracy.

3. to adhere to

Meaning: to behave according to a particular law, rule, set of instructions,

Example: Governments which fail to adhere to their election promises generally become
unpopular very quickly.

4. constitutional government

Meaning: connected with the laws which a country is governed by

Example: The media have an important role to play in reporting on the actions of
politicians, to ensure the proper functioning of constitutional government.

5. the executive branch

Meaning: that part of the government organisation responsible for implementing laws and

Example: The enforcement of policies affecting schools and hospitals is the responsibility of
the executive branch of the government.

6. the legislative branch

Meaning: that part of the government responsible for making laws

Example: Laws relating to human rights have been passed by the legislative branch ofmany governments.

7. the separation of powers

Meaning: the principle that separates government authority into three branches –
legislative (the Parliament or Senate), executive (the President or Ministers) and the
judiciary (the judges and courts).

Example: In the USA, the independence of the courts from the government is safeguarded by the separation of powers.

8. to adopt policies

Meaning: to start to use particular policies.

Example: In order to deal with traffic congestion, the government must adopt policies to restrict the use of private cars.

9. to impose spending cuts

Meaning: to introduce new rules to spend less money on something.

Example: It is essential for the authorities to impose spending cuts on space programs in order to fund health services.

10. to raise taxes on

Meaning: to increase the amount of tax on something.

Example: Governments should raise taxes on cigarettes to persuade more people to give up smoking.

Sport and exercise

1. to take up sport/to take up exercise

Meaning: to start doing a sport, to start doing exercise.

Example: Governments should provide sports facilities to encourage more people to take up sport.

2. to get into shape

Meaning: to become fit.

Example: If people have a sedentary lifestyle, they must do regular exercise to get into shape.

3. to keep fit

Meaning: to stay in good physical condition.

Example: A healthy diet and plenty of exercise are essential for people to keep fit.

4. to exert oneself

Meaning: to make a big physical effort to do something.

Example: I believe that sports professionals deserve high salaries, because constant hard training is necessary so that they can exert themselves to the limit when they compete.

5. to work out at the gym

Meaning: to train the body by physical exercise at the gym.

Example: As part of a healthy lifestyle, people of all ages should work out at the gym on a regular basis.

6. to be out of condition

Meaning: to be physically unfit.

Example: One of the causes of obesity is that many people are out of condition and fail to exercise regularly.

7. to be in the peak of condition

Meaning: to be in the best possible physical condition.

Example: Sports professionals should receive high salaries, because they must always be in the peak of condition in order to perform at the highest levels.

8. to take gentle exercise

Meaning: to do exercise which is not physically demanding or tiring.

Example: Even the elderly can keep fit by taking gentle exercise, like jogging or even a walk in the park.

9. alternative forms of exercise

Meaning: taking exercise in less common ways, involving the mind as well as the body

Example: Alternative forms of exercise, such as yoga and tai chi, are popular in my country among people of all ages.

10. to outlaw dangerous sports

Meaning: to ban or prohibit sports which have a high risk of causing injury.

Example: I believe that the government should outlaw dangerous sports because participants may suffer serious injuries.

Space exploration

1. The space race

Meaning: competition between the US and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 60s to be the first to explore space

Example: The space race in the 1950s marks an important point in the development of space exploration

2. A space probe

Meaning: a type of space craft that does not have a person inside.

Example: Space probes can be sent to far distances for long periods of time to gather information about different areas in space.

3. A lunar module

Meaning: a small craft used for travelling between the moon and the larger space craft orbiting the moon.

Example: When the first men walked on the moon they came out of the lunar module. The first man to walk on the moon said “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

4. To put into orbit

Meaning: To send something into space, following a curved path of a planet or an object as it moves around a star, a moon or a planet.

Example: A new satellite has been put into orbit around the earth.

5. Manned space flight

Meaning: a voyage into space which has a person to control it.

Example: As manned space flights are so dangerous, many checks must be carried out first.

6. To launch a space rocket

Meaning: to send a rocket into space.

Example: Nowadays, men launch space rockets – not ships – to discover new worlds.

7. The cosmos

Meaning: the universe, especially when it is thought of as an ordered system.

Example: Although the challenge of exploring and understanding the cosmos is exciting, it is also very expensive.

8. To pour money into space research

Meaning: to spend enormous amounts of money on space research.

Example: Some people argue that it is wasteful to pour money into space research.

9. A test flight

Meaning: a flight during which a space craft or part of its equipment is tested.

Example: Test flights add to the huge costs of space exploration.

10. A space shuttle

Meaning: a spacecraft designed to be used, for example, to travel between the earth and a space station.

Example: The first space shuttle was front-page news, but now people are no longer excited by the concept.