Posts Tagged ‘English’

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Not much between the ears: how to say that someone is stupid

April 16, 2014

by Liz Walter
stupid
There are many different ways of saying that someone is stupid, depending on factors such as who you are talking to, whether or not you care about offending someone, or how serious you are being.

We can describe someone who has trouble understanding things as slow or dim, but note that we almost always put words like a bit or rather in front of these words: Her husband’s a bit dim. My pupils were rather slow. A kinder way of describing a student who isn’t doing well is to use the verb struggle: My daughter struggles with maths. She’s struggling at school.

At a more advanced level, someone with a vacuous expression has little sign of intelligence in their face, while an inane remark is silly and has no real meaning.

In English, it is common to express critical ideas by using positive words in negative sentences. We say things such as: He’s not that bright. She’s not the sharpest pupil I’ve ever taught. They are the less intelligent ones. Read the rest of this entry ?

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New words – 14 April 2014

April 14, 2014

deadcathole

dead-cat hole noun informal the space between the top of a car tyre and the body of the car

US models will have larger dead-cat holes than European ones. Cat lovers can gripe to the EPA,

[Car & Driver (US automotive magazine) Oct. 2013]

banking desert noun a neighbourhood or other area where there are no banks

From our member station WYSO, Lewis Wallace reports on a recent branch closure in Dayton, Ohio, that creates a banking desert nearly five miles wide.

[NPR: Morning Edition (US news and public affairs) 13 November 2013]

concierge medicine noun a sector of medical practice where extra attention is given to wealthy patients able to pay a high price

Members of the affluent classes routinely question the merits of doctors who do take insurance. […] This psychology, along with cost-cutting strategies pursued by insurance companies […] have driven the field of concierge medicine.

[New York Times (US broadsheet) 08 December 2013]

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New words – 7 April 2014

April 7, 2014

unplugged_wedding

unplugged wedding noun a wedding at which no one is allowed to bring phones so that there will be no photos posted to facebook or instagramming

Unplugged weddings are becoming very popular here in the UK and have great advantages for all involved in the wedding. An unplugged wedding simply means that you’ve politely asked your guests not to use phones, cameras or other devices during your wedding or at least during the wedding service or ceremony.

[www.blog.kathrynandrewsphotography.com 03 October 2013]

dark sky park noun a nature reserve that is protected from light pollution by night

International dark sky parks are areas where the night sky is protected and lighting controls are in place to prevent light pollution.

[www.bbc.co.uk 06 December 2013]

quietway noun a backstreet, cycle-dedicated road which cars are not allowed on

Mayor Boris Johnson’s Vision for Cycling document also proposes the introduction of so-called Quietways on ‘low-traffic back streets’ for cyclists to use

[www.bbc.co.uk 14 November 2013]

About new words

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New words – 31 March 2014

March 31, 2014

digital_dementia

digital dementia noun impairment of brain function as a result of overuse of screens, leading, for example, to inability to recall phone numbers/dates of birth/PINs, etc.

So that means that many of us, including kids who grew up with technology and those of us who adopted it in our later lives as part of living in the modern world, may not be destined to digital dementia indefinitely after.

[www.alzheimers.net 12 November 2013]

digital water cooler idiom informal a social network on which people talk about something such as a TV show or sports event

In recent months [Facebook and Twitter] have engaged in an escalating battle […] to claim the title of the nation’s digital water cooler as they woo networks and advertisers.

[New York Times (US broadsheet) 02 October 2013]

About new words

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New words – 24 March 2014

March 24, 2014

brodog1

brodog noun slang a young man who watches sports and hangs out in bars with other similarly-minded young men

SNOW! Snow? Snow. … Or if you’re a brodog, you might be currently scheming on some confrontation [snowball fight] at Dupont Circle, since that’s now tradition.

[Lunchline with Clinton Yates view.ed4.net/v/2GZNC0/FKSB2M/30D3EOW/ROJOOD/ (Washington Post blog) 10 December 2013]

dead-cat hole noun informal the space between the top of a car tire and the body of the car

US models will have larger dead-cat holes then European ones. Cat lovers can gripe to the EPA.

[Car & Driver (US automotive magazine) Oct. 2013]

dog shaming noun the practice of taking a picture of your dog with a sign (usually around its neck) explaining its misdemeanour and then posting it on the Internet

Internet ‘dog-shaming’ craze undermines pets’ dignity, say vets who claim unfortunate canines look terrified in online photos.

[www.dailymail.co.uk 08 November 2013]

About new words

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Hirata buns or kimchi, anyone? New words connected with food.

March 17, 2014

by Liz Walter
cronut
Once notorious for our diet of meat and two soggy veg, we in the UK are now happily tucking into sushi, dim sum, tacos and fajitas, chorizo, bruschetta, tagines, baklava, guacamole, felafels and houmous (over 30 million pots a year from one supermarket chain alone!).

All of this gives the lexicographer a bit of a headache. When do these foods become established enough to merit a place in the dictionary? After all, pretzels, ketchup and lasagne were considered ‘foreign’ once, but are now firmly part of the English language.

As part of our work, my colleague Kate Woodford and I collect new words as they come into English (many of which you can find on this website). We don’t try to predict whether or not they will catch on, but just record them for future research. So I decided to look back at food words we captured between 2005 and 2010 to see which of them have made it into general use. Read the rest of this entry ?

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New words – 17 March 2014

March 17, 2014

robot_doctor2

anti-vaxxer noun a derogatory word for a person who refuses to have their child vaccinated for a particular disease

Why would the FDA appoint a known anti-vaxxer to their committee?

[http://doubtfulnews.com 17 November 2013]

digital autopsy noun a non-invasive autopsy which involves 3-D scanning, rather than the cutting open of the corpse

The UK’s first dedicated digital autopsy centre opens in Sheffield on Wednesday, heralding a potential revolution in the way postmortems are conducted.

[www.theguardian.com 27 November 2013]

electroceutical noun electrical stimulation used to provide pain relief

They see a chest of medical devices: ‘smart stents’ that report on how well an artery is healing; a pump that titrates medicine into hard-to-reach tissue; ‘electoceuticals’ that fight pain with electrical pulses rather than drugs.

[Smithsonian (US culture and science magazine) Dec. 2013]

About new words

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