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Mar 23, 2018
Hugh Dellar

Intermediate word of the day: pride

Pride is that feeling of satisfaction and pleasure that you get when you’ve done something special, or when someone connected to you has achieved something. We often talk about people taking pride in things. If you take pride in something, you feel very proud of it; you feel a deep sense of satisfaction about it. Just pause for a minute and think about the kind of things you think people often take pride in.

Well, you can take pride in your achievements – the difficult things that you’ve managed to do in your life. After a show that you acted or sang in or after a sports event, if you did very well, you can take pride in your performance. Footballers often talk about the way they take pride in the shirt of their club – or about how they wear the shirt with pride. If you ever play a sport or performed at a concert, you want to know you’ve done your best, that you’ve given your all. You want to be able to look back on your performance with pride.

All kinds of people take pride in their work. Personally, it’s something I love to see. Even if you’re doing a job that’s not particularly well-paid and that’s not seen as being very important to society, you can still pride yourself on the way you do it, you can still take pride in it. For example, in the area where I live in north London, there’s an amazing guy who cleans the streets. He’s originally from Jamaica and he’s very friendly, so I often stop and talk to him when I’m on my way to work or on my way home. It’s obvious that he takes pride in his work because the streets are always spotless – always very very clean – after he’s finished with them. And he always has a smile on his face as he’s working as well. I really admire and respect that.

If you care about the way you look and about the kind of clothes you wear and you spend time every day ensuring that you look your best, you take pride in your appearance. This may also mean that you try to stay in shape and that you work out in the gym or do a lot of exercise, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re incredibly fit and have an amazing body or that you’re very good-looking, It just means that you care about the way you look and take the time and the effort to make sure you look as good as you think you can.

If you work for a company and you have very strong positive feelings about the work you do and the group of people you work with, you can say you all have a fierce sense of pride. Sometimes whole communities or towns or even countries have a fierce (or a strong or a keen) sense of pride in their history and their culture and their traditions. You can say the people who live in these places are fiercely proud people. It’s seen as being quite a positive thing in English usually.

Parents often feel a really strong sense of pride – or a glow of pride – when talking about their kids and about their achievements. It’s always lovely when a mother or father is on TV and you can see the pride in their faces as they talk about their children’s successes. For me personally, I was the first person in my family to ever go to university. I mean, my dad left school at the age of 15, at the end of the Second World War, so for me graduating was a big thing and it gave me a real sense of pride to see my parents at my graduation.

A slightly different meaning of pride is the feeling of respect you have for yourself, the sense of your own value and worth that you have. This kind of pride is also something we can talk about countries having too. Just pause for a minute and think about the kinds of things that might hurt your pride – or that might hurt the country’s pride.

Well, if you really fancy someone – if you really like them – and you ask them out on a date and they reject you, they turn you down, maybe that hurts your pride. Or if you’ve always prided yourself on your work and done your best and then you lose your job, you get made redundant, that can really hurt your pride. If you’ve always provided for your family and suddenly find that you have to borrow money to support them, it can hurt your pride as well

For a country, losing a sports event to a rival or to a smaller country really hurts your pride. For example, being English, when the English football team loses to Germany it really hurts our pride. Relying on other countries to do things for you or – even worse – having other countries control certain aspects of your life can hurt the pride of the nation. Over recent months, as more and more countries have had to go to the European Union or the World Bank to ask for a bailout – money to stop the country from going bankrupt – more and more countries have had this experience: they had to swallow their pride and beg for help.

If something great happens after times like this, it can help to restore national pride. Sometimes a military victory can restore the country’s pride after years of decline – or a new political leader can help to restore the nation’s pride by trying to make the country strong and important again.

Finally, we often talk of something being the pride of a particular area, if it’s something that local people feel very proud of and really love. Sports fans often talk of their team as being the pride of north London or the pride of Sao Paulo or the pride of New York or wherever. An industry can be the pride of a city, so for a long time, shipbuilding was the pride of the north-east of England and the steel industry was the pride of Sheffield, as you might’ve seen in films like The Full Monty. Famous people can be the pride of their hometown, statues or amazing buildings can be the pride of a city or of an area, and amazing new animals can be the pride of a particular zoo.

Cover the text. What do you remember?

  • Say three things you can take pride in.
  • When might you give your all?
  • What might you do if you take pride in your appearance?
  • Who might have a fierce sense of pride – and why?
  • When might you feel a glow of pride?
  • What could hurt your pride?
  • What might hurt a country’s pride? And what might restore its pride?

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Related stories in the news

One interesting story this week was about the effects of globalisation on eating habits. Apparently, last year people in France, a country well known for taking great pride in its cuisine, ate more American-style burgers than they did traditional French baguettes filled with local ham. This is a sharp contrast to ten years ago, when they were eating 14 times fewer burgers. Today, at least one burger is on the menu at 85% of French restaurants – most of which are full-table-service establishments. And only 30% of hamburgers sold are from fast food outlets! Le burger seems to be well on the way towards becoming a national favourite!

Elsewhere, the British Prime Minister has tried to calm a bitterly divided country still arguing about Brexit by telling us that 2018 will be the year we all start to feel pride in the nation again. Presumably, she wasn’t referring to the news that the famous old blue passports, which are being brought back in again, will actually be made in France and the Netherlands, not the UK, as this may not have been what she was talking about when she promised to make Britain great again.

Finally, there was a lovely story this week about a woman who – at the age of 101 – has finally been presented with her degree certificate . . . eighty years after she graduated! Catherine Palmer, from Southport, Merseyside achieved a first class degree in English in 1938, but for reasons unknown she did not receive a certificate when she attended her graduation ceremony at the Victoria University of Manchester. The certificate has now taken pride of place next to the birthday card she received from the Queen on her 100th birthday!


  • Which achievements of yours do you take most pride in?
  • Do you know anyone who takes a lot of pride in their appearance?
  • Have you ever seen someone close to you do something that gave you a real glow of pride?
  • Can you think of anything that really hurt your pride?
  • Have you ever had to swallow your pride and ask for help – when you really didn’t want to?
  • Think about where you live. What would you say is the pride of your hometown or city? Why?

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