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Queen Elizabeth isn't very happy today! We show you how to use the phrase spotless reputation from William Shakespeare's Richard II - and bring you some useful expressions for talking about both good - and bad - reputations.

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Spotless reputation - meaning and use

As the Queen says: "a spotless reputation is truly the most important and precious thing in any life." So, let's look at the meaning and use of spotless reputation.

To do

Listen to this extract from the animation to help you remember what the narrator said, and then do the quiz to check you understood.

รับฟังเสียงพร้อมทำแบบฝีกหัด

แสดงเนื้อหาบทบันทึกเสียง ซ่อนเนื้อหาบทบันทึกเสียง

Narrator
These days, the phrase spotless reputation describes a person or organisation that has a good, clean character and behaves decently and honestly. Take news website Scottish Herald, discussing the 2015 Volkswagen emissions data falsification scandal. It said:

Clip 1
Analysts have also asked whether the revelations will cause irreversible damage to Volkswagen's previously spotless reputation.

Clip 2
Another athlete caught taking drugs? I'm surprised at this one though – she always had a spotless reputation.

Now have a go at this quiz. Look at the transcript if you need extra help.

A spotless quiz

4 Questions

Answer the questions to check you've understood the meaning of spotless reputation.

ยินดีด้วยคุณทำแบบฝึกหัดเสร็จแล้ว
Excellent! เยี่ยม! แย่หน่อย! คุณทำคะแนนได้:
x / y

How did you do?
3-4 correct - congratulations! You're spot on!
0-2 correct - oh dear! You didn't quite hit the spot! Try again.

Language note 

The phrase spotless reputation is normally preceded by the article a or a possessive pronoun such as his, her, my or their:

  • She has a spotless reputation
  • It damaged their spotless reputation

The adjective spotless means 'completely clean'. It can be used in other contexts, for example:

  • The kitchen was spotless

Spotless also means 'without faults'. As well as reputation, it can describe behaviour or character:

  • He was famous for his spotless behaviour

Next

Of course, not everyone has a spotless reptutation, so go to the final page to learn some useful expressions for describing people with good or bad reputations.

Session Vocabulary

  • For more great Shakespeare content visit our partner, The OU >

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    Spotless reputation

    Meaning
    These days, the phrase spotless reputation describes a person or organisation that has a good, clean character and behaves decently and honestly.

    Example sentence
    Another athlete caught taking drugs? I'm surprised at this one though – she always had a spotless reputation.

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    Extra vocabulary

    treason
    the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the king or queen

    plot (verb)
    to make a ​secret ​plan to do something ​wrong or illegal

    to be spot on
    to be completely accurate or correct

    to hit the spot
    to be exactly right

    to tarnish someone's reputation 
    to damage someone's reputation

    to have a good track record
    to have a good reputation, based on the things that you have done

    to be squeaky clean
    to always behave in a completely moral and honest way

    someone's name is mud
    describes someone who has a bad reputation or who people are angry with

    to lose face
    to lose your status and the respect of others 

    to give something / someone a bad name
    to damage the reputation of something / someone

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    About Shakespeare Speaks

    Shakespeare Speaks is a co-production between:

    BBC Learning English

    The Open University

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