New words – 16 October 2017

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Linkster noun [C]
UK /ˈlɪŋk.stəʳ/ US /ˈlɪŋk.stɚ/
someone born after the year 2002, said to be “linked” into technology since birth

So, the Linkster population – estimated to make up 18 per cent of the world’s population – grew up with social media, smart phones and apps. Not only this, but someone born in 2002 is just going to have turned 15 years old, meaning they are developing into adults surrounded by … the help, expertise and pressures of social media, the internet and advanced technology.
[, 11 April 2017]

perennial noun [C]
a middle-aged woman whose behaviour, interests and attitudes are traditionally thought to be those of younger women

“Perennials are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, and are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded risk takers.”
[The Sunday Telegraph, 2 July 2017]

Xennial noun [C]
someone born between 1977 and 1983, between Generation X and the millennial generation

Typically, Xennials don’t have the apathy and cynicism associated with the Gen X generation, but they also lack the dogged optimism of millennials, who are said to overestimate their potential because they were raised to believe that they were “special.” Xennials fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
[, 30 June 2017]

About new words

Peering and gawking (Synonyms for the verb ‘look’)

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by Kate Woodford

One thing that we like to do on this blog is consider the many different ways that we express the same thing in English. This week we’re focusing on looking. There are a lot of synonyms for the verb ‘look’, but as we observed in a previous post, ‘Many words in English have the same basic or overall meaning and yet are significantly different for one or more reasons.’ Continue reading “Peering and gawking (Synonyms for the verb ‘look’)”

New words – 9 October 2017

PatrikStedrak/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty

biobag noun [C]
UK /ˈbaɪ.əʊ.bæg/ US /ˈbaɪ.oʊ.bæg/
a plastic bag filled with a special liquid that can keep an animal alive that has been born prematurely by mimicking the conditions of its mother’s womb

An artificial womb that could someday sustain extremely prematurely born infants has managed to keep baby sheep alive for four weeks. The womb, called a “biobag,” is a plastic bag filled with fluid to mimic the conditions inside of a uterus.
[, 25 April 2017]

cobot noun [C]
UK /ˈkəʊ.bɒt/ US /ˈkoʊ.bɑːt/
a robot that works alongside humans on the same tasks

Hunched side by side over a conveyor belt, the robots pluck USB ports from small plastic palettes. With barely a whir, they move them to a second conveyor before pushing them into pinprick holes in green circuit boards … The “collaborative” robots, or “cobots”, are part of a new chapter in an unlikely British manufacturing success story.
[The Guardian, 13 May 2017]

mixed reality noun [U]
UK /mɪkst.riˈæl.ə.ti/ US /mɪkst.riˈæl.ə.t̬i/
a set of images and sounds that combine virtual reality with the real world, allowing them to interact in real time

Microsoft’s betting that 3D and mixed reality will be a big deal in the future, as computer-generated images move from the laptop, tablet and phone screens we’re used to seeing, and into glasses or goggles that overlay them on the real world. Beyond laptops, Microsoft also showed off other mixed reality experiences using special headsets.
[, 2 May 2017]

About new words

1066 and all that: How to say years

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by Liz Walter

Being able to name a year is a pretty basic English skill, but there are a few things that can make it complicated, and there are a number of differences between British and American English.

Let’s start with the (relatively) easy ones. For years like 1345, 1682 or 1961, we say the first two and the second two digits as if they were single numbers: thirteen forty-five; sixteen eighty-two; nineteen sixty-one.

If the third digit is zero, there are two possible ways of saying the year:

1407: fourteen oh seven or fourteen hundred and seven

1901: nineteen oh one or nineteen hundred and one

Continue reading “1066 and all that: How to say years”

New words – 2 October 2017


cloud eggs noun [plural]
a savoury dish made by baking small mounds of whisked egg whites with a whole egg yolk in the centre of each one

Fluffy clouds with a yellow centre are sweeping social media and it’s all thanks to the latest breakfast fad. In the latest trend to emerge on Instagram food fiends are skipping poached, scrambled and fried and opting for cloud eggs. The egg-ceptional looking dish is made by separating the egg yolk from the white and is popular among health nuts coming in at just 161 calories.
[Daily Mail, 7 May 2017]

Crotilla noun [C]
UK /krəʊ.ˈtiː.ə/ US /krəʊ.ˈtiː.jə/ TRADEMARK
a brand name for a type of food that is shaped like a tortilla (a type of thin, round Mexican bread) but made of pastry layers like a croissant

Meet the Crotilla, aka a cross between a croissant and a tortilla. It’s an invention exclusive to Walmart, and it’s proof that we haven’t seen every possible food hybrid even if it feels like we have. The Crotilla is shaped like a tortilla but tastes like a buttery, flaky croissant. The product’s own description is that it’s a “flaky flatbread fusion of croissant and tortilla made with butter.”
[, 25 April 2017]

mermaid toast noun [U]
UK /ˈmɜː.meɪd.təʊst/ US /ˈmɝː.meɪd.toʊst/
toasted bread topped with cream cheese that has been brightly coloured with ingredients such as algae powder, beetroot and turmeric and sometimes with other ingredients on top

That’s right; mermaid toast is officially a thing. No, you’re not dreaming. Yes, it’s edible, and yes, it’s actually healthy! Adeline’s aquatic creations are made by mixing blue green algae powder, a nutrient-dense superfood, with homemade almond milk cream cheese — yum!
[, 14 March 2017]

About new words

My trump card. (Words and phrases meaning ‘advantage’)

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by Kate Woodford

This week we’re feeling positive so we’re looking at words and phrases that we use to describe having an advantage. (By ‘advantage’, we mean something that we have which gives us a greater chance of success.)

Starting with the word ‘advantage’ itself, we say that something good gives you an advantage over someone else: His height gives him a big advantage over other players. An adjective that you often hear before ‘advantage’ is unfair: When it comes to running, your legs are longer than mine so you have an unfair advantage! Continue reading “My trump card. (Words and phrases meaning ‘advantage’)”

New words – 25 September 2017


frequency patch noun [C]
a small piece of material that can be stuck to the skin, from which particular substances can be absorbed into the body that are said to help with tiredness and some illnesses

Kritzer and her team draw on an alternative healing method called “frequency patches” … that operate under the belief that our bodies work best when we’re vibrating at a specific internal frequency — a sweet spot in the neighborhood of 62-72Hz. The stickers are “programmed” to mimic this optimum level, and Kritzter says you can “replenish any deficiencies” and raise your “vibration to the perfect frequency” by wearing them for a month.
[, 3 November 2016]

heartilage piercing noun [C]
UK /ˈhɑː.tᵊl.ɪdʒ.ˌpɪə.sɪŋ/ US /ˈhɑːr.t̬ᵊl.ɪdʒ.ˌpɪr.sɪŋ/
a hole made in the cartilage of the top of the ear so that a heart-shaped earring can be worn

There’s no denying that it’s difficult to design a unique yet chic cartilage earring simply because of the sensitivity and location on the ear, but a piercing legend in New York City … simply removed the bead from his client’s cartilage ring, turned in the metal ends, and shaped the piercing into a heart. Robbie’s creativity with the heartilage piercing might have been inspired by his frequent heart daith piercings, the innermost area of cartilage, which he often pierces with a beaded heart ring.
[, 9 March 2017]

helix tattoo noun [C]
a tattoo on the top of the outer ridge of the ear

 All over Instagram, people are proudly showcasing a snazzy new tattooing trend: the helix tattoo. As its name suggests, this trend is simply getting a tattoo on the ear’s upper-outer curve. It’s going big recently thanks to Seoul-based tattoo artist Zihee, who’s been creating all kinds of delicate, nature-inspired designs on people’s ears.
[Metro, 26 April 2017]

About new words

We just got the go-ahead! (Nouns formed from phrasal verbs)

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by Kate Woodford

Here on About Words, we frequently publish posts on phrasal verbs. This week, just for a change, we’re looking instead at a group of nouns that are formed from phrasal verbs. Some of these nouns are usually written with a hyphen between the verb and particle and some are written as one word.

Let’s start on a positive note, with the noun in the title. From the phrasal verb go ahead, the phrase the go-ahead refers to an occasion when you are given official permission to start a project. You get or are given the go-ahead: The council has given the go-ahead for a housing development in the area. Continue reading “We just got the go-ahead! (Nouns formed from phrasal verbs)”

New words – 18 September 2017


rooftopper noun [C]
UK /ˈruːf.tɒp.əʳ/ US /ˈruːf.tɑːpɚ/
someone who climbs onto the roof of a high building to take photographs, often putting themselves in physical danger

This is the heart stopping moment a daredevil rooftopper climbs a New York skyscraper. The dizzying snaps show stunning scenes across the Big Apple from high up on the top of the concrete jungle’s landmark skyscrapers.
[, 29 March 2017]

experience economy noun [U]
UK /ɪkˈspɪə.ri.əns.iˈkɒn.ə.mi/ US /ɪkˈspɪr.i.əns.iˈkɑː.nə.mi/
an economic system that is based on people doing things, such as taking part in sporting activities and visiting places, rather than buying things

A series of studies is revealing strange things about our spending habits. They call it the “experience economy”, which gives it the sense of a grand theory. And there is science behind it, but it’s also very simple: regardless of political uncertainty, austerity and inflation, we are spending more on doing stuff, choosing instead to cut back on buying stuff.
[The Guardian, 13 May 2017]

tombstone tourist noun [C]
UK /ˈtuːm.stəʊn.ˈtʊə.rɪ.st/ US /ˈtuːm.stoʊn.ˈtʊr.ɪ.st/
someone who visits the graves of famous people for enjoyment

Visiting a graveyard for enjoyment is not everyone’s cup of tea. But tombstone tourists – or “taphophiles” – are increasingly to be found wandering through cemeteries, examining headstones, and generally enjoying the sombre atmosphere. 
[, 7 May 2017]

About new words

I think you should apologise: giving advice and making suggestions

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by Liz Walter

We all have times when we want to give advice to someone or to make a suggestion about something they could do to solve a problem. However, it’s not always easy to do that without giving offence, so this post looks at a range of language you could use in this situation.

The most obvious words to use for giving advice are the modal verbs should and ought to:

You ought to eat more vegetables.

You shouldn’t be so rude to your parents. Continue reading “I think you should apologise: giving advice and making suggestions”