New words – 20 January 2020

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urban creep noun [U]
UK /ˌɜː.bən.ˈkriːp/ US /ˌɝː.bən.ˈkriːp/
the gradual loss of green space in a city that happens when gardens are paved over, house extensions are built etc.

Urban creep can cause problems because it reduces the amount of open land which can absorb rain water, putting extra pressure on drains … Researchers studying aerial images found that 11 hectares of green land in the capital is being lost annually, more than six hectares of it through urban creep. About one hectare is being gained each year through the regeneration of former industrial areas.
[www.bbc.co.uk, 14 October 2019]

pocket park noun [C]
UK /ˈpɒk.ɪt.pɑːk/ US /ˈpɑː.kɪt.pɑːrk/
a small area of parkland built on an empty piece of land

Unloved urban spaces will be converted into small “pocket parks” with a new round of Government funding … Community groups can now bid for new parks or reimagined spaces to be converted into play areas and vegetable patches. The Government will spend £1.3 million as an extension of its pocket parks plus scheme, which began in December 2018.
[Sunday Telegraph, 27 October 2019]

smart city noun [C]
UK /ˈsmɑːt.sɪt.i/ US /ˈsmɑːrt.sɪt̬.i/
a city where information and communications technology is used to make life better for its residents

Sidewalk Labs’s plans to create a smart city in a disused area of Toronto can proceed but on a much smaller scale than it had wanted. Any data the Google-affiliate collects there must be treated as a public asset … Sidewalk Labs won an initial contract to develop the area in 2017 and promised a radical mix of offices, retail spaces and homes, with high-tech solutions to urban problems such as traffic and waste disposal.
[www.bbc.co.uk, 31 October 2019]

About new words

Clickbait and viral marketing: the language of advertising

Halfpoint Images/Moment/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

These days, most of us are targeted by adverts pretty much constantly, sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes more subtly. This post looks at the language around a phenomenon that many people would say is out of control. Continue reading “Clickbait and viral marketing: the language of advertising”

New words – 13 January 2020

SERGII IAREMENKO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

frozen robot syndrome noun [U]
UK /ˌfrəʊ.zᵊn.ˈrəʊ.bɒt.sɪn.drəʊm/ US /ˌfroʊ.zᵊn.ˈroʊ.bɑːt.sɪn.droʊm/
the situation that occurs when a driverless car senses an obstacle in the road and stops suddenly

A recent investigation by the Law Commission has revealed driverless motors could be stopped in its tracks [sic] by “frozen robot syndrome”. The concerning possibility would occur when the vehicle freezes in the presence of obstacles on the road, such as leaves, plastic bags or even seagulls. Software developers consulted as a part of the report even warned that unexpected weather, such as heavy snow, could cause a widespread traffic disruption.
[The Sun, 16 October 2019]

quantum supremacy noun [U]
UK /ˌkwɒn.təm.suːˈprem.ə.si/ US /ˌkwɑːn.t̬əm.suːˈprem.ə.si/
the situation where a quantum computer (= a computer that works by using the principles of quantum mechanics) is able to solve a problem that a conventional computer cannot

But it is important to note that it is also only a milestone: the real journey is much longer, and there is an awful lot left to do. Scientists are excited about the possibility of achieving quantum supremacy because of what it means about the process of creating really useful quantum computers, not necessarily as an end in itself.
[independent.co.uk, 23 October 2019]

techno-optimism noun [U]
UK /ˌtek.nəʊ.ˈɒp.tɪ.mɪ.zəm/ US /ˌtek.noʊ.’ɑːp.tə.mɪ.zəm/
the belief that technology changes the world for the better

For decades, leading voices in industry and government had subscribed to a prevailing ethos: techno-optimism. According to this notion, technological progress would ineluctably benefit humanity … Newfound access, connectivity, and freedom of expression were not only viewed as profoundly transformative, but inherently good.
[wired.com, 18 September 2019]

About new words

They gave him the cold shoulder: Idiomatic phrases with ‘cold’.

BrianAJackson/iStock/Gety Images Plus/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Last month I looked at phrases containing the word ‘hot’, and this month I am looking at the opposite: phrases containing the word ‘cold’. Whereas ‘hot’ phrases are mostly concerned either with very good things or with strong emotions, ‘cold’ phrases are usually negative. We often use them to describe fear, unfriendliness or lack of emotion. Continue reading “They gave him the cold shoulder: Idiomatic phrases with ‘cold’.”

New words – 6 January 2020

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spite house noun [C]
/ˈspaɪt.haʊs/
a house that has been built or altered in order to annoy its owner’s neighbours, such as painting it a very bright colour or building an extension that blocks the neighbour’s view

In the UK, the most recent spite house to make the papers was the Kensington home of … a property developer who painted candy stripes on the three-storey façade of her house in 2015. She denied that the stripes were to spite neighbours who objected to her plans to demolish the £4.75m property, which she used “for storage”.
[theguardian.com, 8 September 2019]

super-home noun [C]
UK /ˈsuː.pə.həʊm/ US /ˈsuː.pɚ.hoʊm/
a house that uses very little energy because it has good insulation and has been built using renewable technologies

An eco-friendly “super-home” in Birmingham which has helped its owners to slash their energy bills by a whopping 85 per cent will open to the public this weekend … Featuring cavity, internal wall and loft and floor insulation, the couple’s home has been designed to stay cool in summer and warm in winter, helping them to cut their energy bills substantially.
[bvt.org.uk [no date]]

corkitecture noun [U]
UK /ˈkɔː.kɪ.tek.tʃəʳ/ US /ˈkɔːr.kə.tek.tʃɚ/
the use of cork as a building material

Shortlisted for the 2019 Stirling prize, the annual award for the best building in Britain, Cork House by Matthew Barnett Howland, Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton takes corkitecture to another level by employing it as a total building material. Cork House is just that: a house constructed from solid blocks of expanded cork, like gingerbread or vegan Lego.
[The Observer, 28 July 2019]

About new words

Give yourself a pat on the back! (The language of praising)

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by Kate Woodford

I thought our About Words readers might enjoy a positive post this week, so today I’m focusing on the language of praise – saying nice, positive things about someone or something. We’re looking at single words and phrases and, as ever, focusing on the sort of language that is in use now. Continue reading “Give yourself a pat on the back! (The language of praising)”

New words – 30 December 2019

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tree-trimming party noun [C]
UK /ˈtriː.trɪm.ɪŋ.ˌpɑː.ti/ US /ˈtriː.trɪm.ɪŋ.ˌpɑːr.t̬i/
a social event at which a group of people meet at someone’s house to decorate their Christmas tree

A tree-trimming party is a great idea for completing one chore, celebrating the season, and easily entertaining a crowd of friends. Invitations can be sent out ahead of time, or you can make this a spur of the moment gathering. All you need is a tree, decorations, willing friends and appetizers to serve buffet style.
[thespruceeats.com, 7 November 2019]

Twixmas noun [C]
/ˈtwɪks.məs/
the days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Castle Howard, near York, is adding an extra five days of Christmas by opening for the first time for Twixmas between Christmas and New Year. On show until December 31 will be the Twelve Days of Christmas decorations that have enchanted visitors since going on display in November, including a 26ft Norwegian Spruce tree festooned with 4,000 baubles.
[yorkpress.co.uk, 24 December 2018]

Janxiety noun [U]
UK /dʒæŋˈzaɪ.ə.ti/ US /dʒæŋˈzaɪ.ə.t̬i/
feelings of unhappiness and worry that people often have at the beginning of a new year

It was meant to be the time you knuckled down and became a better person — more focused, with a healthy bank balance and able to fit into your tightest pair of jeans. But you feel the same as you did last week. Except your bank balance is depleted. That drive to start Pilates and give up sugar has been replaced by a nagging sensation, a bit like hangover guilt. It’s Janxiety.
[standard.co.uk, 2 January 2019]

About new words

Christmas phrases

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by Kate Woodford

It’s Christmas! At Cambridge Dictionary, we like to get into the Christmas spirit so today, we’re bringing you festive phrases with a round-up of idioms that contain a word that we often associate with Christmas. Continue reading “Christmas phrases”

New words – 23 December 2019

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e-waste noun [U]
/ˈiːˌweɪst/
computers, mobile phones, electrical wires etc. that have been thrown away

The explosion of e-waste highlights its dual (and dueling) identities as both environmental scourge and potential economic resource. Though often laced with lead, mercury or other toxic substances, laptops and phones also contain valuable elements like gold, silver and copper. Yet barely 20 percent of the world’s e-waste is collected and delivered to formal recyclers.
[nytimes.com, 5 July 2018]

snooptech noun [U]
/ˈsnuːp.tek/
digital tools and equipment that allow companies to monitor their staff’s activities, such as reading the content of their emails

If the goal of all this is truly to improve efficiency, then the businesses that have embraced “snooptech” suffer from short-sightedness – in the long term, there is no way that a business can thrive in a culture of paranoia such as that brought about by the enthusiastic use of workplace surveillance.
[productivityknowhow.com, 8 September 2019]

keysmash noun [C]
/ˈkiː.smæʃ/
a string of random characters struck on a computer keyboard to signal anger, frustration, etc.

Take one of the parts of online language that looks the most chaotic: a keysmash, a random bashing of the keys, such as “asdnfklsfnkslf”, to signal intense emotion. The keysmash usually begins with an “a” and heavily features letters in the “home row” of keys where fingers naturally rest.
[Sunday Times, 6 October 2019]

About new words

A frog in my throat: talking about voices

Kencor04/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

The way someone speaks is very important, and often gives an indication of their character. It is therefore not surprising that we have a lot of words to describe the tone and timbre of voices. Continue reading “A frog in my throat: talking about voices”