Archive for the ‘New words’ Category


Coffee culture

November 24, 2015

by Colin McIntosh​
coffee culture
In a study published recently and widely reported in the media, researchers from Harvard University School of Public Health found that people who drink a moderate amount of coffee per day are less likely to die from a range of diseases. Good news for coffee drinkers, who make up an ever-increasing proportion of society.

Seattle, which likes to consider itself the home of coffee, is partly responsible for this growth in coffee drinking around the world, being the birthplace of the Starbucks chain. This is the source of much of the new vocabulary around coffee drinking, which you will now find in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Most of this vocabulary comes originally from Italian, but filtered through the Seattle approach, which involves making you stay on the premises as long as possible. Central to the whole operation is the barista (the person who makes the coffee, an Italian word from bar, meaning a coffee shop). Bring your laptop, settle down, and spend the morning sipping. As well as the traditional cappuccino (which has grown to double or triple the size of the Italian original), on offer we have lattes (even bigger and milkier than a cappuccino), macchiatos (with less milk than a cappuccino, and served in a smaller cup), americanos (with added water to make it less strong) and chais (not actually a coffee, but a tea drink originally from India with milk, sugar, and spices). Variations include decaf (decaffeinated) and skinny (with low-fat milk). If you’re in a hurry, ask for it to go (served for you to drink somewhere else, usually in a paper cup):

Two skinny decaf lattes to go, please!

Read the rest of this entry ?


New words – 23 November 2015

November 23, 2015


climatarian adjective choosing to eat a diet that has minimal impact on the climate, i.e. one that excludes food transported a long way or meat whose production gives rise to CO2 emissions

Climate change is not normally on people’s minds when they choose what to have for lunch, but a new diet is calling for people to go ‘Climatarian’ for their health and for the planet.

[ 16 July 2015]

There are some signs the public is starting to take such advice on board. They include the release of an ‘EatBy’ app that reminds consumers to use up food in the fridge, and a new social network to help people adopt a ‘climatarian’ diet that shuns meat from gassy grazing animals, such as beef and lamb.

[ 11 September 2015]

agtech noun the harnessing of new technologies for agricultural purposes, often specifically to increase food production in a sustainable way

The Next Food Frontier: How AgTech Can Save The World

[ 07 September 2015]

What the agtech boom means for Big Food

[ 30 September 2015]

shade ball noun a plastic ball for putting on the water in order to reduce evaporation and algae levels

Within hours, videos of the shade balls were everywhere. Social media went crazy for the name. The hashtag #shadeballs took off, with one Twitter user writing, ‘If you ever doubted that LA was the home to everything plastic… #shadeballs.’

[ 23 August 2015]

About new words


Happy shopping!

November 17, 2015

by Colin McIntosh​
Traditionally in the US, people’s minds start turning towards the holidays after Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November). That’s not your summer holidays, as Brits might understand it, but the December pile-up of religious and secular festivities that represents the high point of consumer spending, not just in the US, but in many countries around the world.

With Thanksgiving out of the way, Americans feel free to concentrate on preparing for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or other festivals, as well as the New Year, and that usually involves a heavy dose of spending. The custom dates back a long way, but in the 1970s marketing people introduced the term Black Friday. This refers to the ​Friday after Thanksgiving, when ​shops ​reduce the ​price of ​goods in ​order to ​attract ​customers who ​want to ​start ​their ​gift ​shopping, or, in other words, to kick-start the spending season: Read the rest of this entry ?


New words – 16 November 2015

November 16, 2015


yuccie noun young urban creative; someone who wants to be creative and free-spirited but also wealthy

Yuccies – cherish ‘craft’ beer and ‘artisanal’ food, like ‘authentic’ holiday destinations – are hipster versions of yuppies: they want personal success and financial gain while keeping their ‘creative autonomy’.

[ 19 July 2015]


open streets plural noun a plan in urban areas in which certain streets are closed to motor vehicles for a period of time to allow residents to use those streets for walking, bicycle riding, skating, etc.

Open-streets initiatives have taken root in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Portland, Ore., and more that 100 other US cities.

[AARP Bulletin (US magazine) Sept. 2015]

skunk water noun a foul, faecal-smelling liquid that is sprayed on protesters in some parts of the world in order to disperse them

Invented by Israeli firm Odortec, skunk water was first used by the Israeli military against demonstrators in the occupied West Bank in 2008.

[ 12 September 2015]

About new words


New peas in old pods

November 10, 2015

by Colin McIntosh​
One of the ways in which language is constantly  changing is by adding new meanings to existing words. Sometimes the new meaning is clearly based on the old meaning, as is the case with a computer mouse, or a dropdown menu, or an ice cream cone, but other times the relationship between the old and new meanings is less clear, or even non-existent. There is no connection, historically speaking, between nan, a British word for grandmother, and nan (also naan), a type of flat bread in South Asian cooking. The same can be said of rock (meaning ‘stone’) and rock music. They simply happen to have the same combination of sounds and letters, with very different origins.

The oldest meaning of pod, for example, is the one that refers to a part of a plant, usually long and thin, that contains the seeds. Some vegetable pods can be eaten, such as those of green beans (also called French beans and string beans); others, such as peas, contain the edible part, and are usually not eaten themselves. This meaning itself comes from an Old English word meaning ‘cloak’, so it is possible to see a connection between the two meanings – they both refer to protective coverings. Read the rest of this entry ?


New words – 9 November 2015

November 9, 2015

nerd power

nerd power noun informal heat generated by computers and used, for example to heat places

All computers produce heat, but computer servers produce a lot of heat – so much that it usually costs a fortune to cool them down. So why isn’t this heat used instead to keep homes or offices warm? Actually, ‘nerd power’ is already being tried out.

[ 21 May 2015]

super cookie noun a cookie that is intended to be stored on a computer and cannot be deleted in the usual way

The program was dubbed a ‘super cookie’ because it is more powerful than a regular Web tracking cookie that users can delete. [ 01 April 2015]

smart desk noun a computerized desk that can be raised for use while standing and can monitor such things as the user’s movements, time spent at the desk sitting or standing, and calories burnt, and prompt the user to move about or stand up, etc.

The reason to buy a smart desk is because you, like most Americans, discover you are sitting your life away.
[/ (tech blog) 02 June 2015]

About new words


Protest the cuts!

November 3, 2015

by Colin McIntosh​
protest the cuts
Thirty years ago this phrase would have been meaningless to most British people. Not that 1980s trendy lefties were shy about expressing their opposition to Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to shrink state spending. It’s just that they would have said they were protesting against the cuts, rather than protesting the cuts. The transitive use of protest was reserved for phrases like protest your innocence. Now phrases like this are all over the media, imported from the US thanks to the recent exposure given to movements like Occupy Wall Street protesting (against) corporate greed and shady banking practices. The usage has recently spread to the UK, and has been taken up particularly by commentators in the media, no doubt helped by the fact that it makes sense to have a single, global (and shorter) hashtag on social media.

This fluidity in grammar patterns associated with verbs is not new. British English traditionally used the infinitive with to after help. The Royal British Legion says comfortingly but somewhat staidly:

We can help you to manage your debts… and deal with unexpected expenses

whereas the more dynamic-sounding says:

We can help you sell your house fast! Read the rest of this entry ?

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