Sorry to butt in! (Phrasal verbs that describe ways of speaking)

by Kate Woodford

Jenni Holma/Moment/Getty
Jenni Holma/Moment/Getty

This week we’re looking at the many phrasal verbs in English that refer to ways of speaking and the sort of things that people do in conversation.

The adverb ‘on’ has a sense which is ‘continuing or not stopping’. Accordingly, there are a few informal phrasal verbs containing ‘on’ that are used for speaking a lot and not stopping. For example, if someone goes on, they annoy you by talking about one subject for too long:

I know she did well in her exams – I just wish she’d stop going on about it!

He went on and on about his new job.  Continue reading “Sorry to butt in! (Phrasal verbs that describe ways of speaking)”

New words – 20 February 2017

Anastasiia_M/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Anastasiia_M/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Calexit noun [U] /kæl.’ek.sɪt/
an exit by the state of California from the United States of America

Californians would need to pass an amendment to the US Constitution, which requires the blessings of the other 49 states. The measure would also survey voters on whether a “Calexit” is something that interests them.
[Business Insider 21.11.2016]

Bremoaner noun [C] UK /brə.’məʊn.ə/ US /brə.’moʊn.ɚ/
someone who complains about Britain’s exit from the European Union

Anybody asking questions about our future relationship with our biggest trading partner is dismissed as a Bremoaner. I have been called worse in my time. 
[www.dailymail.co.uk 30.10.2016]

democracy sausage noun [C] UK /dɪˈmɒk.rə.si ˈsɒs.ɪdʒ/ US /dɪˈmɑː.krə.si ˈsɑː.sɪdʒ/
a sausage cooked on a barbecue and served on bread, sold at polling booths on election day in Australia

A humble barbequed sausage on a slice of bread sold at polling booths around Australia has been picked as the country’s official word of the year — “democracy sausage.”
[www.apnews.com 14.12.2016]

About new words

Me, myself and I: How to use pronouns (1)

by Liz Walter

Lamaip/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Lamaip/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Pronouns are words we use instead of nouns in order to avoid repeating the nouns. Compare the following:

Laura picked up the book. Laura gave the book to Zalie.

Laura picked up the book. She gave it to Zalie.

We use pronouns when we have already mentioned a person or thing, or when it is obvious who or what they are.

The most common pronouns are personal pronouns – pronouns that refer to people or things. The most important thing to remember about these is that (with the exception of you and it), they are different according to whether they are the subject or the object of a sentence. Continue reading “Me, myself and I: How to use pronouns (1)”

New words – 13 February 2017

Jonathan Fletcher/EyeEm/Getty
Jonathan Fletcher/EyeEm/Getty

thrisis noun [C] /ˈθraɪ.sɪs/
feelings of unhappiness, worry, and disappointment that some people experience when they are around 30 years old and that can sometimes lead them to make important changes in their life

From the outside, my life looks pretty good. I’m 32. I have fantastic friends and a great job … So why do I feel like I’m doing everything wrong? Welcome to the 30-something crisis – or ‘thrisis’ – the feeling that, just a decade into being a grown-up, you’re running out of time.
[Grazia, 22 November 2016]

JAM noun [C] /dʒæm/
abbreviation for just about managing; used in the UK to describe people who have just enough money to survive, but nothing more

Jams account for two-thirds of all families with children receiving tax credits … More than two thirds have less than a month’s income’s worth of savings. So, the argument goes, Jams are especially vulnerable to weak income growth, rising costs and the freeze on working-age benefits until 2019.
[www.bbc.co.uk/news 21 November 2016]

social menopause noun [U] UK ˈsəʊ.ʃəl ˈmen.ə.pɔːz US ˈsoʊ.ʃəl ˈmen.ə.pɑːz
the time in a woman’s life when she no longer wants to stay out late, go to parties etc.

Late-twenties social menopause opens up space for new ventures. Maybe we’ll finally learn to cook. Maybe we’ll actually start saving.
 [www.manrepeller.com 05 October 2016]

About new words

Head over heels! (Love idioms)

by Kate Woodford

LWA/Dann Tardiff/Blend Images/Getty
LWA/Dann Tardiff/Blend Images/Getty

With Valentine’s Day almost upon us, our attention at About Words has turned to love, or more specifically, the various phrases and idioms that we use to describe romantic love. If love is on your mind, read on…

We’ll begin this post with the start of romantic love. When you fall in love, you start to love someone romantically: They met in the spring of 2009 and fell madly in love.

If you start to love someone from the first time you see them, you may describe the experience as love at first sightAl and I met in a friend’s kitchen and it was love at first sight for both of us. Continue reading “Head over heels! (Love idioms)”

New words – 6 February 2017

KidStock/Blend Images/Getty
KidStock/Blend Images/Getty

Gameboy disease noun [U]
/ˈgeɪm.bɔɪ dɪz.iːz/
a spinal condition in children caused by looking down at hand-held devices for long periods

Kids these days are spending so much time hunched over smartphones and tablets that their spines are at risk of developing incorrectly – a condition known as gameboy disease.
[www.mirror.co.uk 07 June 2016]

computer vision syndrome noun [U]
UK /kəm’pjuː.tᵊ ˌvɪʒ.ən ˌsɪn.drəʊm/ US /kəmˈpjuː.t̬ɚˌvɪʒ.ən ˌsɪn.droʊm/
a condition of the eye caused by spending a large amount of time looking at a computer screen

We spend nearly 50 hours a week looking at computer screens, according to research conducted by the College of Optometrists. But prolonged use can result in what has been dubbed “computer vision syndrome”, with symptoms including eye strain, double vision and temporary short-sightedness.
[www.express.co.uk 27 January 2016]

thunderstorm asthma noun [U] UK
/ˈθʌn.də.stɔːm æs.mə/ US /ˈθʌn.dɚ.stɔːrm æz.mə/
a medical condition that makes breathing difficult, caused by a large amount of pollen in the air after a storm

A sixth person has died almost a week after Melbourne was hit by an unprecedented thunderstorm asthma outbreak. 
[The Guardian 27 November 2016]

About new words

Transitive or intransitive; Countable or uncountable – what does it all mean??

by Liz Walter

RonTech2000/iStock/Getty Images Plus
RonTech2000/iStock/Getty Images Plus

It’s all very well being told that we use many in front of countable plural nouns and much before uncountable nouns, but what happens if you don’t know what ‘countable’ and ‘uncountable’ mean? People like me, who write about language, use these terms all the time but why should we assume that our readers know them? After all, they are quite technical, and most people in the street wouldn’t know their meaning. That’s why I thought we’d take a step back this week and look at a few really basic terms that help learners understand language. Continue reading “Transitive or intransitive; Countable or uncountable – what does it all mean??”

New words – 30 January 2017

South_agency/iStock/Getty Images Plus
South_agency/iStock/Getty Images Plus

tech bro noun [C] UK /’tek.brəʊ/ US /’tek.broʊ/
a rich young man who works in the technology industry

The unfortunate tech bro insurgency in San Francisco continues with a guy … who has lived in the Bay Area for all of three years … and recently felt entitled enough to write the mayor and police chief about his distaste for the homeless. 
[www.jezebel.com 18 February 2016]

Textalyzer noun [C] UK /ˈtekst.ᵊl.aɪz.əʳ/ US /ˈtekst.ᵊl.aɪz.ɚ/
a device that the police could use to check if a driver has been using their phone while driving

The most provocative idea, from lawmakers in New York, is to give police officers a new device that is the digital equivalent of the Breathalyzer — a roadside test called the Textalyzer. 
[New York Times, 27 April 2016]

digital twin noun [C] UK /ˌdɪdʒ.ɪ.tᵊl ‘twɪn/ US /ˌdɪdʒ.ə.t̬ᵊl ‘twɪn/
a digital representation of a product or piece of equipment

Dunsdon says these “digital twins” are using information gathered during manufacture and operation to make predictions about the future. 
[www.ukbusinessinsider.com 11.07.2016]

About new words

I keep putting it off. (Phrasal verbs with ‘put’)

by Kate Woodford

Hero Images/Getty
Hero Images/Getty

As part of an occasional series on phrasal verbs formed with common verbs, this post looks at phrasal verbs that contain the verb ‘put’. As ever, the phrasal verbs that we include in this post are all common in everyday English.

Let’s start with an action that most of you have already done today – put on a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes:

Put your coat on, Jamie – it’s cold outside. Continue reading “I keep putting it off. (Phrasal verbs with ‘put’)”

New words – 23 January 2017

PASIEKA/Science Photo Library/Getty
PASIEKA/Science Photo Library/Getty

deep learning noun [U]
UK /ˈdiːp ˌlɜː.nɪŋ/ US /ˈdiːp ˌlɝː.nɪŋ/
a branch of artificial intelligence that uses algorithms based on the neural networks of the brain

They’ve all been made possible by a family of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques popularly known as deep learning, though most scientists still prefer to call them by their original academic designation: deep neural networks.
[www.fortune.com 28 September 2016]

cybersoldier noun [C] UK  /ˈsaɪ.bəˌsəʊl.dʒəʳ/ US /ˈsaɪ.bɚˌsoʊl.dʒɚ/
a member of the military who works in the field of cyberwarfare

Through this new kind of training, the Army is trying to perfect the fieldcraft of these experts in computers and digital warfare – cybersoldiers.
[www.usnews.com 29 August 2016]

malicious insider noun [C] UK /məˌlɪʃ.əs ɪnˈsaɪ.dəʳ/ US /məˌlɪʃ.əs ɪnˈsaɪ.dɚ/
a person within an organization whose actions threaten the security of that organization’s activities or data

One in fifty employees is believed to be a malicious insider.
[SC Magazine 15 September 2016]

About new words