New words – 25 July 2016


unschooling noun an educational method or concept that involves children directing their own learning by following their own interests rather than by having a structured curriculum

Once my unschooling son announced he wants to get a Ph.D. in biology I decided I had to get serious about making sure he can get into college.

[ 02 January 2016]

She is passionate about unschooling and self-directed learning, Attachment Parenting, homebirthing, holistic health, and homesteading.

[ 02 January 2016]

lifehack noun an action you can take to make your life easier or better

This likeable pop-science show takes the current craze for lifehacks and steers it gently into the absurd.

[The Guardian (UK broadsheet) 02 January 2016]

blue belt noun an area of protected coastline

The UK government has extended the coastal ‘blue belt’ of protected marine areas

[ 17 January 2016]

Britain’s ‘Blue Belt’ haven for our marine life doubles
Almost two dozen new conservation zones protecting UK waters will save rare and exotic creatures from fishing and seaside development

[ (article title) 17 January 2016]

About new words

5 Phrasal verbs to impress your teachers

KUO CHUN HUNG/iStock/Getty
KUO CHUN HUNG/iStock/Getty

Many of my students worry about phrasal verbs, and I have written several posts about them, including a basic introduction to the what they are and how they are used and a more recent post on phrasal verbs for everyday actions.

One of the most common complaints is that there are simply so many of them, and that they are difficult to remember, especially when the main verb is a very common one such as take or set. In this post, therefore, I have selected just 5 phrasal verbs. All of them are extremely common, and all of them can be used in a wide variety of contexts. If you learn just these 5, you will be able to use them in your writing and impress your teachers. Continue reading “5 Phrasal verbs to impress your teachers”

Feeling the music, seeing the words

by Colin McIntosh

Neil Hopwood/EyeEm/Getty
Neil Hopwood/EyeEm/Getty

In May 2016 Evelyn Glennie, the Scottish virtuoso percussionist, collaborated with the Papworth Trust charity to create a very special garden for the Chelsea Flower Show, where new gardening ideas are showcased every year. Glennie, who has been profoundly deaf since the age of twelve, plays her panoply of instruments by feeling the vibrations with her body, and the inability to hear in the conventional way has never stood in the way of her musical ambitions. Deaf culture, of course, has always been about ability rather than disability, and some new words connected with Deaf culture recently added to the Cambridge Dictionary recognize this fact. Continue reading “Feeling the music, seeing the words”

New words – 18 July


circular economy noun an economic model that prioritises the longevity of goods, for instance by sharing or recycling them

Amsterdam is fast becoming a leading circular-economy city, with businesses such as MUD Jeans and Fairphone committed to a circular economy business model.

[ 29 January 2016]

collaborative economy noun the practice of collaborating with others on owning, renting, exchanging or donating goods and services

The management guru Jeremy Rifkin argues that the ‘Internet of Things’ has triggered an economic shift from capitalist markets to a collaborative commons, while the journalist Paul Mason claims the ‘collaborative economy’ represents proof of a viable post-capitalist operating system for the 21st century.

[GQ (UK men’s magazine) February 2016]

gig noun informal a short-term job

But the idea of a gig is only alluring if you know you can hit the road when it gets joyless. Otherwise it’s just an old word for a job you need that you can’t count on having tomorrow.

[NPR: Fresh Air (US culture interviews) 11 January 2016]

About new words

Brexit idioms

by Kate Woodford

Andrew Linscott/iStock/Getty
Andrew Linscott/iStock/Getty

Every two or three months on this blog, we look at the idioms being used in a range of daily newspapers in the UK. This week, we thought it might be interesting to look specifically at the idioms used in relation to the UK’s recent decision to leave the European Union, (Brexit). As ever, we have only included frequent idioms – in other words, the sort of phrases that you are likely to hear or read in other places.

One newspaper reports that since the referendum, events have been moving with lightning speed (= extremely quickly). Possibly the most dramatic of those events was Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement the day after the election that he would resign. This, said one newspaper, fired the starting gun on (= started) his party’s leadership contest. In another newspaper, a journalist writes that he wants there to be a general election in Britain. However, he adds that a general election may only be a sticking-plaster solution for the nation’s very serious, long-term problems. A sticking plaster is a way of dealing with a problem that is only temporary. Continue reading “Brexit idioms”

What planet are you on?

by Colin McIntosh


According to a 1992 bestseller, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus”. And I always thought I was from planet Earth! The book attempted to help men and women understand each other by explaining some fundamental differences between men’s and women’s psychology, and belongs to the expanding genre of self-help literature.

The growth of psychology, the academic study of the mind and behaviour, in the 20th century was felt far beyond the walls of academia. Its ideas were popularized and taken up by many writers and caring professionals, some with no background in the study of psychology. The vocabulary associated with some of these ideas has recently made its way into the Cambridge dictionary. Continue reading “What planet are you on?”

New words – 11 July 2016


Anthony Lee/Caiaimage/Getty
Anthony Lee/Caiaimage/Getty

singlism noun the stigmatization or marginalisation of single people


[ 01 February 2016]

Are you a victim of singlism?

[Gracia (UK celebrity magazine) 01 February 2016]

otherize verb to make someone seem to be outside of and unlike the members of a particular group

‘The Trump campaign has attempted to otherize other candidates’,[…] that’s conservative commentator S. E. Cupp on CNN on Super Tuesday.                    

[NPR: All Things Considered (US news) 06 March 2016]

With ‘Otherize,’ Pundits Reach Outside The Dictionary To Describe Politics

[ (US news, headline) 06 March 2016]

neomasculinity noun an extreme ideology of male supremacy

The founder of a controversial ‘neomasculinity’ group called off a string of international meetups, including two scheduled in Iowa, after warnings from Des Moines police and other agencies this week…    

[ 04 February 2016]

About new words

The new digital face of dictionaries

ELT_34045_CDO_scd_07_16-ImgPost-3_1200x800You might have noticed that the Cambridge Dictionaries Online website is looking a bit different this morning as we have rolled out the new design to all devices.

What’s different?

Pretty much everything has changed, if you consider the visual impact of the site and its ease of use.  We have renamed Cambridge Dictionaries Online to simply Cambridge Dictionary, and its new strapline “Make your words meaningful” is an open invitation to explore the richness of the site’s resources: from definitions and grammar to synonyms and real-life examples. We have also given the site a brand new visual identity including the logo with Cambridge University shield, which now position the site in a direct relationship with the Cambridge English family of products. Continue reading “The new digital face of dictionaries”

I’m very close to my sister: words and phrases for talking about your family

by Liz Walter

Hero Images/Getty

There is a saying that blood is thicker than water, which means that the bond we have with family members is stronger than with anyone else. Whether you agree with that or not, chatting about our families is something that most of us do quite often, so it isn’t surprising that words for family members and words to describe their personalities are often among the first things we learn in a new language.  In this post, I aim to build on that by presenting some less obvious words and phrases for talking about families.

We use the phrase immediate family to describe the closest members of our family – usually our parents, children, wife or husband. In some cases, especially if we live with them, it may include our siblings (brothers and sisters). Our extended family is all the people we are related to, for instance cousins, aunts, uncles and their wives, husbands, children, etc. We can also say whether we are related to a person by marriage or by blood (we sometimes use the phrase a blood relative/relation). Continue reading “I’m very close to my sister: words and phrases for talking about your family”

When dictionaries attack

by Colin McIntosh


Do you have problems remembering your passwords? Do you change them on a regular basis? Or do you write them down on scraps of paper, then lose them? Computer passwords need to be secure and memorable, but often if they’re secure, they’re not memorable, and vice versa.

With so many devices and systems now needing to be password-protected, password strength is more important than ever. The Cambridge Dictionary is welcoming several new password-related words to its pages.

The purpose of passwords is to make a computer system secure by providing access control: you need to verify your identity by typing your username and password, and only once the combination of these two has been authenticated can you access the system. Continue reading “When dictionaries attack”