Learn English Language through Despicable Me

Hello Everyone,

The Despicable Me movie series came out when I was in Korea, and it was extremely popular everywhere. It is a really funny series that takes the story of an unlikely hero and adds parenting troubles and super-villain competition to the mix. Overall, this is a really fun movie to watch, and the English language level used is quite low so it is not too hard for ESL learners to understand (particularly if you turn on subtitles).

I hope that you can get a chance to watch the full movie after you study up on these vocabulary and expressions!

As always:

These videos are being made for two types of English language learners:

1. Those who have studied textbook English hard, but are having trouble understanding cultural references and nuanced English
2. Those who are tired of studying the same way every day, but still want to boost their vocabulary and English language ability through daily practice.


Here are the vocabulary and expressions for those of you who want to quiz yourself later!

Vocabulary and Expressions for Despicable Me 1
Vocabulary/Expressions Definitions
As it was discovered that the great pyramid of Giza was stolen. Simple past passive tense = was + past participle. This grammar emphasizes the object of the sentence and (usually) doesn’t mention the subject. This grammar is used often on the news.
Law enforcement still has no leads Lead = evidence or information that would help someone (in this case the police) find someone (the criminals).
Which of the world’s villains is responsible for this heinous crime? Villain = the opposite of a hero, the bad guy.Heinous = evil, awful. This word is usually used to describe a crime.
Oh, you’ve got to be pulling on my leg To pull someone’s leg = to trick someone, to play a joke on someone. Another way of saying you’ve got to be kidding me.
And you guys are alright in my book To be alright in someone’s book = To be liked/respected/trusted by someone.
Something that will blow this pyramid thing out of the water To blow something out of the water = to destroy or defeat someone completely. This expression is referring to old submarine battles, where the winning submarine blows the enemy submarine up.
Gru, I’ve been crunching some numbers To crunch some numbers = to calculate some finances/budget. This expression is often used in accounting and finance related movies.
Hey, chillax Chillax = relax, calm down. This term was also used in the Twilight movie, but we didn’t discuss it there.
So how did it go girls, did we meet our quotas? Quota = How many things a person needs to give/receive. In this case, the girls must sell a certain amount of cookies (give). This word comes from the ancient Latin word “quot” which means “how many.”
And yet you have the audacity to ask the bank for money? Audacity = to be rude or disrespectful, impudence.
With far too few of your sinister plots actually turning a profit Sinister = evil, bad.Plot = plan

To turn a profit = to make/generate money

Here’s the dealio Here’s the dealio = here’s the deal/this is the situation. This special way of saying ‘deal’ was first mentioned in the song by the singer Missy Elliot call ‘what the dealio.’
You dun bin’ shrunk You done something = a meme from 2010 that is a joke on the syntax often used by African Americans. It is often used to show the meaning “you have been beaten” or “I win.”
Does this count as annoying? Does this count = is this included? It this also one of what you are talking about?
A dozen boogie robots, boogie! Boogie = to dance. Originally this word came into use in the early 20th century and referred to a kind of upbeat blues music.
And it is top secret and you may not tell anybody Top secret = very secret, should not be told to anyone.
Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the beg bugs bite Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite = this is a traditional western good night expression that many parents say to their children since the 1700s.
Girls, welcome back to the fortress of vectortude Fortress of vectortude = word play on Super Man’s Fortress of Solitude. He puts Vector in there because that’s his name, and that is the joke here.
We are doomed To be doomed = to have no future, to not have any way to do anything. This can also mean that someone is going to die.
Can’t you see that I’m in the middle of a pep talk? Pep talk = talk or presentation to encourage people or make them feel enthusiastic/energetic.
The moon is as good as ours Something is as good as something = You can believe me that it will be done. Example) That man is as good as dead (you can believe me that he will definitely die).
The larger the mass of the object, the quicker the effects of the shrink ray wear off The adjective + er (or more) something is, the adjective + er (or more) something will be. Example) the more beautiful a gem is, the more expensive it will be. This grammar describes the related changing of two things/people.


Report Card Summary

Genuine Language Usage: I am pretty critical about the genuine language usage in this movie. This is because for a lot of the movie the writers seem to be just trying to put in random popular culture references for no reason, and most of the time they are such obscure references that many people, even native speakers, don’t know what they are referring to. While most of the comedy in this movie is made for children, the parts they tried to make for the adult viewers were poorly made because of their obscurity.

Educational Value: There really isn’t a lot this movie has to offer in terms of learning new useful vocabulary. The majority of the new vocabulary in this movie was from strange cultural references that aren’t even used that often in daily conversation. In terms of just reviewing some basic English this movie is pretty good, and that’s why it was able to get a B-.

Fun Factor: Despite everything, I still really enjoy this movie series. The characters are lovable, and the animation is nice to watch. I enjoy the character interactions and I think overall it is a fun movie to enjoy.


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