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Vocabulary Topic: Social Issues

The words listed below can be used when talking about social issues, such as crime,
corruption or human rights.
- Do the exercises and check your answers with the Answer Key
- For further practice, try and use some of these words when you are answering the
practice question at the end of the writing task 2 document.

Mini Dictionary

addict = (noun) someone who takes illegal or crime rate = (noun) the ratio of crimes in an
harmful drugs and cannot stop area to the population of that area; usually
e.g. A drug addict can show signs of expressed per 1,000 population per year
depression, angry outbursts, manic behavior,
irritability, moodiness and overall attitude e.g. A while back, Police Commissioner
change. Johnson, of Philadelphia, stated that
poverty is to blame for the increased crime
addiction = (noun) a strong need that someone rate in the city.
feels to regularly take an illegal or harmful drug
e.g. Nicotine is considered addictive because it cycle of addiction = (noun)a downward
alters brain functioning and because people spiral of unhappiness, followed by drug use
use it compulsively. Addiction to nicotine is not and temporary relief, that leads to physical
immediate - it may take weeks or months to and mental dependence
develop. e.g. The cycle of addiction is created by
changes in brain chemistry and
addictive = (adjective) something that is perpetuated by physiological,
addictive is so enjoyable that you want to do it psychological, and emotional dependency.
or have it as often as possible
e.g. Tobacco is highly addictive. deprivation = (noun) a situation in which
people do not have basic things that they
alcoholism = (noun) a medical condition that need to live a comfortable life
makes it difficult for you to control the amount e.g. Social deprivation is the reduction or
of alcohol you drink prevention of culturally normal interaction
e.g. Studies show, however, that the risk factors between an individual and the rest of
that lead to alcoholism and the consequences society.
of alcohol abuse differ among men and
women. divorce = (noun) a legal way of ending a
marriage e.g. I want a divorce.
altruistic = (adjective) thinking or behaving in a
way that shows you care about other people divorce = (verb) take legal action to end
and their interests more than you care about your marriage e.g. She still refuses to divorce
yourself him.
e.g. Someone who is altruistic always puts others
first. family breakdown = (noun) the failure of a
relationship through divorce, separation or
e.g. Family breakdown can lead to
behavioural problems in children.

I robbery = (noun) the crime of taking money

homelessness = (noun) the state of not having a or property illegally, often by using threats or
place to live and therefore having to live and violence
sleep on the streets e.g. He was arrested and charged with
e.g. Homelessness is one of the most extreme armed robbery.
forms of social exclusion.
sanitation = (noun) conditions and
impartial = (adjective) not connected to or processes relating to peoples health,
influenced by one particular person or group especially the systems that supply water and
e.g. Judges need to be impartial. deal with human waste
e.g. Overcrowding and poor sanitation are
litter = (noun) things such as pieces of paper common problems in prisons.
that people have dropped on the ground in a
public place, making theft = (noun) the crime of stealing; the
it untidy person who commits this crime is called a
e.g. The park and river are full of litter. thief
e.g. There have been a lot of thefts recently.
mugging = (noun) an attack on someone in a
public place in order to steal their money, unemployment = (noun) a situation in which
jewellery, or other possessions some people do not have work and do not
e.g. If you own an iPhone, you're twice as likely have an income
to be the victim of phone mugging as the user e.g. The community here has been
of any other mobile phone. devastated by poverty and unemployment.

offender = (noun) someone who has committed violent crime = (noun) a crime in which the
a crime e.g. Community punishment is used offender uses or threatens to use violent
for less serious offenders. force upon the victim (e.g. murder, rape,
robbery, etc.)
overcrowding = (noun) unpleasant conditions e.g. While many crimes have fallen in recent
caused by too many people or things being in years, sadly some types of violent crime
the same place have been on the increase.
e.g. Overcrowding in houses can arise from
several causes, and the physical and
psychological effects on people living in
overcrowded conditions can be quite severe.

prison = (noun) an institution where people are

kept as
punishment for committing a crime. The people
who stay in prison are called prisoners.
e.g. Ricky has been out of prison for 3 years

Exercise 1 - GAP-FILL
Fill in the gaps with words from the Mini Dictionary. The first letters are there for you.

1. V__________ C__________ in England and Wales has fallen by almost a half a peak in 1995 but we are

not complacent and know there is still work to do.

2. There are many factors that can contribute to the c r in America: the economy,

geography and the weather all seem to play a role. Social scientists, politicians and law enforcement

officials continually attempt to identify the factors that influence criminal activity in the hope that they

can use the information to reduce crime.

3. Criminal justice systems often deal with y o differently from adult offenders.

4. He was charged with the t of club funds.

5. People who d l can be fined in some cities.

6. The two men were arrested only a week after they were released from p .

7. He received a 10 year prison sentence for armed r .

8. Two men wanted in connection with a m at Stafford Station have been captured on CCTV.

9. G is a much misunderstood form of art. It is not art or literature in the conventional sense
of the terms, but it is an expression of people's inner feelings, and are therefore just as expressive, and
even more raw, than polished works of art.


Focus on the meaning and choose the correct word from the options given.
1. It isnt always easy to recognize the signs that you have developed a dependence on drugs. After all, no
one sets out to become a drug ADDICTION/ ADDICTED/ ADDICT.
2. There is a growing problem of drug ADDICTION/ ADDICTED/ ADDICT in our cities.
3. Cigarettes are harmful, highly ADDICTION/ ADDICTED/ ADDICT, and aggressively marketed to young
4. Maurice Licorish II, senior film production major, believes that the social aspect of drinking can lead to

5. HOMELESS/ HOMELESSNESS can happen to anyone, with reasons ranging from relationship
breakdown, debt and unemployment to mental health issues, drug/alcohol issues

6. In the media, it is difficult to be ALTRUISTIC/ IMPARTIAL because people interpret what they read and
hear differently.

7. Both her marriages ended in DIVORCE/ DIVORCED.

8. Her parents DIVORCE/ DIVORCED when she was 14.
9. Scientists say they have found part of the brain that predicts whether a person will be selfish or
10. The life CYCLE OF ADDICTION / ADDICTED/ ADDICT begins with a problem, discomfort or some form of
emotional or physical pain a person is experiencing.
11. FOOD DEPRIVATION/ SLEEP DEPRIVATION leads to malnutrition and ultimately starvation.
12. The Council's Housing Opportunities Team aims to advise on and help to resolve OVERCROWDED/
13. POOR SANITATION/ POVERTY SANITATION gives many infections the ideal opportunity to spread.
14. UNEMPLOYED/ EMPLOYMENT/ UNEMPLOYMENT rose last month to its highest level for over five