off the cuff - The Squid Game Phenomenon

off the cuff: An English learning podcast – The Squid Game Phenomenon

Everyone is talking about it so we are too. This month on off the cuff: An English learning podcast – The Squid Game Phenomenon is what we are talking about. Why is it internationally popular? Listen to our podcast and check the vocabulary below. Enjoy!

Vocabulary, expressions and phrasal verbs to listen for.  

Vocabulary minute 0:00 – 3:30

On everybody’s tongues

  • If something is on your tongue, it means you are talking about it.
  • When Claire says, what’s on everyone’s tongue, she means what is everyone talking about.
    • The new COVID restrictions are on everyone’s tongues these days.

Fancy that

  • this expression is used to comment on something that is hard to imagine.
  • In American English, the expression ‘Imagine that’ is more commonly used in the same situation.
    • Her parents bought her a new car for her birthday. Fancy that!


  • snippet is used to talk about a small and interesting piece of news or information.
    • I listened to a snippet of the off the cuff podcast and I wanted to hear more.

Smashed the record

  • to defeat or destroy something (the record, in this case) completely.
    • Adele smashes all sorts of records every time she releases a new album.

Talk about polar opposites

  • When we use the phrase ‘talk about’ we use it to emphasize something in an obvious way.
    • I read that book last year. Talk about boring!
  • Polar opposites means that two things are complete opposites.
    • My daughter is very serious and organized whereas my son is always losing things and making jokes. Talk about polar opposites.


  • The people who watch something, especially a TV show or series.
    • In the middle of October this year, over 111 million viewers watched Squid Game.


  • A set of numbers that give information about a process, activity or event.
    • The metric that Netflix uses to count viewers is called ‘chose to watch’ and counts anyone who watches a show, even if it’s only for a few minutes.


  • Adjusted View Share. This is a Netflix metrics that they use to determine the value each of the viewers hold.
    • Squid Game rated over 9 out of 10 on their own metrics, AVS.
  • Click here to read more about the AVS for Squid Game.

Enlighten me

  • To provide someone with information or facts about something.
  • Clare in this case was saying it a bit sarcastically since Annie is only giving her personal opinion.
    • I don’t understand why you think you need to do this. Enlighten me.

Sink in/into

  • To allow something to gradually make sense or realize the effect something will have on you.
    • I can’t believe he’s gone. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.  

Vocabulary minute 3:30 – 5:00

To be put under pressure

  • The act of someone making or convincing you to do something by arguing or persuading you.
    • Teachers are increasingly put under a lot of pressure to pass their students even if they are not performing well.

To be in debt

  • To owe someone or several people money.
    • It is very common in the US to be in debt since many people live above their means.


  • Someone who risks money in the hopes of winning more money.
    • In the show Squid Game, lots of the players were gamblers and had a lot of debt to pay off.


  • To be able to buy something because you have enough money to do it.
    • I can’t afford to buy a new phone this year.
  • Sometimes this can also be emotional. If someone can emotionally afford to do something it means that they are emotionally capable of doing it.
    • I can’t afford to lose her. She is so important to me.

Desperation point

  • The moment that someone feels that they are in such a bad situation that they are willing to take risks to change it.
    • The players in Squid Game where at such a point of desperation that they were willing to risk their own lives and those of others to change their current situation.

Subtle way

  • To do something in a way that is quiet and clever way as to not attract too much attention.
    • Clare suggested in off the cuff that using children’s games was a subtle way for the director to attract children and younger viewers to watch.


  • To be shocked by something.
    • Annie was flabbergasted to hear that children were watching Squid Game since she believed the message of the show to be too mature for such young viewers.

To consume (the episode)

  • to consume is usually used in this way with food or drink, but Annie is using it to suggest she is taking in the episode and trying to understand it.
    • I consumed the whole series in just two days and am now trying to understand everything that happened.  

To deal with something

  • To take of something. I can’t talk right now.
    • I’m dealing with a bit of a tough situation at work right now.

 Vocabulary minute 5:00 – end

Quentin Tarantino

  • An American writer-director of movies such as Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained and other movies known for being violent.
    • Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors because he films are unique.
    • Learn more about Quentin Tarantino here.

You know what I mean?

  • This is a common expression used to ask someone if they understand or agree with you.
    • I’m so tired of talking about COVID all day long. You know what I mean?

Wrap my head around something

  • To understand something that is difficult to comprehend.
    • I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that my sister is dating my ex-husband.


  • A way streaming serves talk about how well a show ‘sticks’ or remains interesting to someone. If everyone watches a series to the end, then it’s stickiness is good.
    • This TV series has a high stickiness rating on Netflix because people usually watch the entire series.

To stick something out

  • To stay with something until the end. I had to leave that job.
    • There was no way I could stick it out until the end of the year there.


  • The income that a company receives.
    • We had very little revenue this year as the supply chain really had an effect on our productivity.

The Crown

  • A TV series on Netflix that follows the life of the Royal family in England.
    • I tried to watch The Crown but didn’t make it through an episode as I found it quite boring.
  • Learn more about The Crown here.

To lose out

  • To not have the same advantage as others.
    • He really lost out on an opportunity to work in a prestigious firm.

To take off

  • To start to be successful or popular.
    • Although there wasn’t much attention around Disney+ in Spain in the first months, it has really taken off now.

To overcome

  • To succeed in dealing with a difficult situation.
    • The children really learned to overcome their difficult upbringing and are all now raising families of their own.


  • Something that makes you see things in a different way.
    • Having friends that are different from you from a very early age can be very mind-opening.


  • Information about the end of a tv show or movie that may ‘spoil’ the enjoyment for you.
    • Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen the ending of Squid Game, stop reading.

To turn against someone

  • To go from supporting someone or something to opposing them.
    • A lot of fans turned against him when he left the team to make more money.

To hit (the next big thing to hit)

  • To become popular. The next TV series to become a success.
    • I can’t wait to see what the next big thing to hit this Christmas season is at the movie theatre.  

Watch this spot

  • Pay attention to this topic because something is going to happen.
    • To learn more English and keep up with your phrasal verbs, watch this spot!

Now that you’ve listened to off the cuff: An English learning podcast – The Squid Game Phenomenon, listen to our other podcasts below.
off the cuff: An English learning podcast – Phrasal verbs
off the cuff: An English learning podcast – The rat race