Spur (on) – Word of the month – June

Image credit: Dennis Young on Pixabay.com

This month I will suggest ‘spur’ as my word of the month. However, rather than just putting up the poster in the classroom I thought I would also write a blog post to accompany it.  And so,this and possibly a regular series of writings was born.

A spur, as a noun, is the metal star shaped spike that you see in cowboy films attached to the back of their boots and used to make a horse ride faster.

Image credit: wikimedia.org

This definition is very useful to remember its other meanings in the (transitive) verb form.  The first being, to motivate and encourage somebody to do something.  The second definition is: to cause something to happen.

In the Cambridge Dictionary they note that ‘spur’ is ‘C2’ level vocabulary and note some good example sentences.

in terms of how the word spur can be used by students. Well,  it could be an interesting alternative to using ’caused’, result in’ or ‘promote (a change of behaviour)’, ‘motivate’ and ‘encourage’.


For this reason, the government wants to spur people to increase their daily activity levels

Having taken everything into consideration, it would seem that by spurring people to learn a new language they can encourage us to not only be more sociable but also more accepted by local people when traveling abroad.

It is a widely held belief that an increase in video gaming has spurred (on) a more sedentary lifestyle in many youngsters.


Having tried the main course, this further spurred my appetite (on) for dessert.

So, should you be the type of person who enjoys a romantic series, I would spur you on to give this one a go.

Also note from some of the above examples that ‘spur’ can also be used with the particle ‘on’ to form a less formal separable phrasal verb.  this is also shown in the below example:

‘My love of travelling really spurs me on to study and and improve my English’

Interesting expressions connected to spur include ‘to do something on the spur of the moment’. Meaning to do something spontaneously, deciding at that point in time to to do something. For example:

Do you like to make plans for the weekend?

Not really.  I often just wake up on a Saturday, look what the weather is like and then make a plan on the spur of the moment. 

Well, now it’s up to you.  How can you use the word ‘spur’?

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