mexico gasoline crisis vocabulary

earlier this week, this headline was used by multiple news organizations to summarize a reuters story and a current crisis in mexico…

Mexico fuel theft crackdown sparks shortages

when we talked about it in some of my classes, we all had a good laugh realizing (seeing, noticing) that mexico was the only word that everybody recognized

tolucos waiting in line for gas

fun elt practice richyrocks english on youtube

so as inconvenient as the current situation is here in mexico, it is indeed an opportunity to learn from a real event. and it should be easier to remember these vocabulary words the next time u need them

  • fuel is combustible, it produces energy when burned. it can be used to mean stimulate or motivate as well and the expression fuel the fire means make something more difficult, dangerous or worse. there are many ways to apply fuel the fire that are generally negative, but these lyrics by ani difranco from the end of her song fuel give the idea of a force for positive change

    beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel

    there’s a fire just waiting for fuel

beneath means under.

fuel is a tricky word to pronounce. be careful not to say fool (idiot, stupid person)! the correct pronunciation is like few’ll; listen to it here.

  • theft is the act of stealing. it is famously used in the title of the popular game grand theft auto. before it was a game, it was the name of the crime for stealing a car.
grand theft auto 5 cover
before it was a game, it was the name of a crime
  • crackdown indicates a more aggressive attitude about stopping fuel theft. it’s a noun. crack down is the equivalent phrasal verb.
  • spark means generate, cause. it is a common word to see in news headlines (maybe it sparks a lot of clicks? ).

the original idea of spark is a little particle of fire, the idea applies to the auto part, spark plugs


a bosch spark plug


spark plug sparks

spark plugs (

…and the most boring of the fireworks, sparklers.

a hand holding a sparkler

sparks flying off a sparkler (carucha l. meuse / the journal news)

additionally, it is an easily recognized part of the chorus of bruce springsteen’s well-known song dancing in the dark (more! )

u can’t start a fire without a spark

  • a shortage means there is not enough gas. it’s not a common word to hear in popular music, but it appears at 1:35 in damian marley‘s here we go. referring to himself, marley says

provide the harvest, in drought and shortage

with jah by my side i’ve got all advantage

harvest is when crops are collected. crops are plants produced commercially–corn, beans, sugar cane, marijuana, tobacco, etc. drought is a shortage of rain that can cause agricultural shortages. jah is the rastafari name for god.

finally, a couple of interesting points about the word gasoline. the product is usually called just gas in american english. what we call gas in mexico is known as natural gas in american english.

the “i” in gasoline is pronounced like the i latina in spanish (listen here). there are not a lot of words with this pronunciation in english. here is a short list of a few of them: expertise, elite, machine, police, bernice, tarantino, argentina and phillippines (the last “i”).

a gas stove burner

natural gas (hemera/thinkstock)

how is the gasoline crisis in mexico affecting u? how will it end? share your ideas under leave a reply




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