New Year’s Eve English Vocabulary!

Every year, people around the world celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another. In the U.S., including Denver, this much- anticipated countdown to the New Year is celebrated with parties, concerts, and fireworks, as well as the fun tradition of kissing someone special at midnight.

Do you have plans for New Year’s Eve? Learn the terminology behind the traditions with this English vocabulary lesson designed to prepare you for the festivities!


Auld Lang Syne – Pronounced “old ang zyne.” this is the name of a well-known song that is sung across in English speaking countries at midnight when celebrating the New Year. The words might seem a little strange and unfamiliar to you – this is because it’s actually written in a Scottish dialect. Don’t worry, they are just as strange to native English speakers!

Bubbly – An informal way to refer to champagne, which is commonly drunk at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Fireworks –  A colorful display of light and noise made by the burning of explosive materials. On New Year’s Eve, it’s common for people to watch fireworks throughout the evening and definitely at midnight.

Noisemaker – A party favor (meaning a small gift or toy) that is designed to make a loud noise to celebrate at a party or sports event. For New Year’s Eve parties, it’s common for everyone to use their noisemakers at midnight!

To toast/to make a toast – In this case, we’re not referring to the bread you eat at breakfast, but to raising your glass (of champagne maybe), and inviting others to do so, in order to take a drink in honor of a person or an event. On New Year’s Eve, it’s the tradition to make a toast to the new year at midnight.

To make a New Year’s resolution – A resolution is a kind of promise. As a way to start the New Year fresh and positive, people make resolutions to do something differently throughout the coming year (such as to go to the gym more or improve their English!

To ring in the New Year – This idiomatic expression is means to celebrate, especially at midnight, on New Year’s Eve. Most people ring in the New Year at a party with friends.

The stroke of midnight – Another way to refer to when the clock changes to 12:00 a.m. The stroke of midnight is the moment that the fireworks go off (happen), a New Year’s toast is made, and people kiss!

To watch the “ball drop” – The ball is a New Year’s tradition! It’s an actual gigantic ball located in Times Square, New York City, on a pole at the top of a building. At 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, the ball slowly starts to descend down the pole until it reaches the top of the building at midnight, signaling the end of the year. On New Year’s Eve, people excitedly count down from 10 to 0 for the last ten seconds of the ball dropping before midnight!

We hope you’ll put this new vocabulary to use as you celebrate New Year’s Eve, and in honor of the holiday, we offer you this traditional toast: “May all your troubles during the coming year be as short as your New Year’s resolutions.”

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