ICAO General English: Black Friday – Vocabulary Party

Woohoo! As my previous vocabulary party turned out to be one of your favorite blog posts, I decided to make it a regular type of content that will appear on my website. Two days ago some of you celebrated Thanksgiving so today’s vocabulary party is a perfect subject. Take a look at the short abstract at the idea behind it and its etymology. Below you’ll find the most popular collocations, nouns, verbs, etc. that show up in headlines and other resources. My aim is to provide you with the commonly used and popular chunks of plain language you may easily integrate into your language skills. But now let’s begin with the notion of Black Friday.

What is Black Friday?

“Black Friday” is a part of a US tradition strongly connected with Thanksgiving celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Invariably, on the next day most people start Christmas shopping and, thereafter, most of the retailers offer bargain prices; some of them the discounted labels are kept for a weekend, while some of them disappear at the end of a day.

Bargain money planted

Why Black Friday is called “Black Friday”?

The term “Black Friday” was coined supposedly in 1966 by the Philadephia Police Department when hoards of people went out to shop causing congestion of traffic, accidents and over-crowded with shoppers sidewalks.

Black Friday Related Verbs and Nouns

A short reminder – we use an “on” preposition to talk about the days of the week – on Monday, on Thursday, etc.

  • bedlam (noun, uncountable) – a noisy situation with no order
    “In 2014, some shops witnessed scenes of bedlam over sales (…)” – BBC
  • frenzy (noun, uncountable) – the state of being excited and anxious that you can’t control what you’re doing
    “Black Friday frenzy
    “media feeding frenzy” – read more on Wikipedia
  • extravaganza (noun, countable) – a large, exciting and expensive event or entertainment
    “the sales extravaganza
    “a three-hour extravaganza of heavy metal music”
    “I watch “Dancing with the Stars” to see the dancing extravaganzas.”
  • consumerism (noun, uncountable) – the promotion of the interests of consumers.
    “People who are upset about consumerism are pledging to spend no money at all in the UK, other parts of Europe and the US.” – BBC
  • refund (noun, countable; verb) – an amount of money that is given back to you, especially because you are not happy with something you have bought
    “They claim a full or partial refund for the poor service.”
    “‘I’ll refund you for the laptop case and any other damage.”
  • a checkout – the place in a large shop, especially a food shop, where you pay for your goods
    “a surprise at a checkout
  • snap up (verb, informal) – to buy or get something quickly because it is cheap or exactly what you want
    “(…) some of the biggest bargains may have been snapped up already.” – BBC
  • to forgo – to resign; to retain from.
    “They may be reluctant to forgo full-price sales in the busiest season of the year.” – BBC

Consumerism on Black Friday

English Idioms Involving Sales, Bargains, etc.

  • a bargain hunter – a person who is looking for the best price or deal
    “Black Friday Bargain Hunters Hit The Stores In Full Force” – CBS Local (it is a headline, hence the capitalized letters)
  • to grab a bargain – make a good deal; to pay a discounted price
    “(…) What to be careful of, and how to grab a bargain” – BeCleverWithYourCash.com (a headline)
  • to buy something in the sales – a period during which a shop or dealer sells goods at reduced prices
    “The Consumer Rights Act, which is the law that covers this activity, clearly says that it doesn’t matter if you buy something in the sales, your rights are the same (…)” – BBC
  • to cut prices – to slash prices
    “Amazon is cutting prices at Whole Foods again” – CNN
  • the sales / marketing gimmick – a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade for persuading someone to buy something
    sales gimmicks such as free samples”


Black Friday is an outstanding opportunity to grab a good bargain and save some money. My personal takes on this day is to take an action which is adequate to my currents needs.  Before I go shopping, I analyze my needs and I plan; I avoid purchasing anything on the spur of the moment because it is the best way to confront my irrational thinking with the outgoing marketing gimmicks. However, I’m just a human being and sometimes I get caught in a trap. I advise you to be a conscious customer; the power of unconsciousness of masses can be coerced into spending money on goods or/ and services that aren’t needed at all. Do you go shopping on Black Friday? What did you purchase and what was the trigger to say “yes” to that particular offer? Or maybe you’re involved in a celebration of a concurrent Buy Nothing Day? Let me know in the comments below!

Black Friday vocabulary