keep a low profile: meaning and explanation

If you are keeping a low profile, then you are trying not to attract attention to yourself.

This is not the same as hiding – you just don’t want your presence to be too obvious. You are trying not to stand out. e.g. Despite being one of the most famous athletes in the world, when he is not competing he likes to keep a low profile and spend time with his family.

Imagine that your boss at work is in a very bad mood. You know that she will probably shout at someone at some point. To avoid this, you might keep a low profile – just do your normal tasks and avoid attracting her attention. If she doesn’t notice you, she is less likely to take her bad mood out on you.

This expression can also be used as an adjective, to describe something. In this case, we need to hyphenate the two words: low-profile. e.g. He’s never enjoyed being the centre of attention, so we’re going to organise quite a low-profile retirement party for him.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: North America

, .
I hadn’t to the , so best to a .

About the sentence

…I hadn’t actually been invited to the wedding, so I tried my best to keep a low profile…

Notice the useful expression to try your best to do sth. e.g. We don’t mind if you fail the exam, as long as you have tried your best.

Notice the use of the past perfect in this sentence (“I hadn’t actually been invited…”). This is because this past action took place before the main action of the sentence, which is also in the past (“…I tried my best…”).

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Wales

This extra micro-listening exercise is only available to MicroEnglish Plus members. Sign up here.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: North America

This extra micro-listening exercise is only available to MicroEnglish Plus members. Sign up here.

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Can you remember a time when you had to keep a low profile? Did you manage not to attract attention to yourself?
  • Can you think of any famous people who keep a low profile in their day-to-day lives? Would you do the same if you were famous?

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

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