Time to put your feet up: words connected with doing nothing

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by Liz Walter

It’s August, and for many people that means holiday time (vacation time if you’re a US English speaker), so in this post I thought I’d make some suggestions for words and phrases connected with being lazy and not doing much.

There are several words for lazy people. They are all negative, but some are more disapproving than others. Describing someone as a layabout indicates strong disapproval, while lazybones could be used almost affectionately. Slacker could be used seriously or semi-humorously, as could the informal couch potato. Work-shy is a very disapproving word, often used for unemployed people suspected of not wanting to get a job. Continue reading “Time to put your feet up: words connected with doing nothing”

New words – 21 August 2017

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ecotherapy noun [U]
UK /ˈiː.kəʊ.θer.ə.pi/ US /ˈiː.koʊ.θer.ə.pi/
a method of improving someone’s well-being by engaging them in outdoor activities such as gardening and conservation work

Mind has funded 130 ecotherapy projects and helped more than 12,000 people in the process. One such project uses gardening and growing food to help people with mental health issues improve their sense of wellbeing. Green exercise therapy – walking in nature – has also proven to be effective.
[www.mindfood.com, 16 December 2016]

clean meat noun [U]
/ˈkliːn.mi:t/
meat that has been grown in a laboratory from self-reproducing cells

There are concerns about clean meat however. Some people wonder whether meat eaters will even want to eat it. They might be so stuck in their ways that the thought of eating animal products produced by a radical new method will seem weird and disgusting to them. Some meat eaters I’ve spoken to are repulsed by the idea of eating “meat grown in a lab”, even after I remind them that all processed foods start in a lab before they are mass produced in a factory.
[The Guardian, 18 April 2017]

FODMAP noun [C]
UK /ˈfɒd.mæp/ US /ˈfɑːd.mæp/
abbreviation for ‘fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols’: one of a group of naturally occurring sugars that are said to be a possible cause of stomach pain and problems with digestion

In one trial, avoiding foods with FODMAPs was shown to reduce IBS symptoms in 76% of sufferers. This isn’t easy – lots of foods have FODMAPs, including anything containing wheat, dairy, fruits like apples, pears and peaches, and vegetables including onions.
[Sainsbury’s Magazine, April 2017]

About new words

Make a splash! (Everyday idioms in newspapers)

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by Kate Woodford

Every few months on this blog, we read a selection of national newspapers published on the same day and pick out the idioms that we find in the articles and reports. We read the news, the gossip columns and the sports pages and, as with previous posts, include only the most frequent, up-to-date idioms. Continue reading “Make a splash! (Everyday idioms in newspapers)”

New words – 14 August 2017

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hack day noun [C]
/ˈhæk.deɪ/
an event at which employees of a company meet to discuss problems or ideas

Online property marketplace Hubble used an internal hack day as a team-building exercise and also to identify and fulfil new opportunities. With a hearty breakfast to get the creative juices flowing, and celebratory beer and pizzas afterwards, the chance to spend a day away from regular activities got the company’s 20 employees enthusiastic about taking part.
[The Telegraph, 10 March 2017]

crowdspeaking noun [U]
/ˈkraʊd.spiː.kɪŋ/
a marketing activity where each follower of a person or company on social media sends out an identical message at the same time

Social media is an easy way to say something, but it’s a difficult way to be heard. Thunderclap is the first-ever crowdspeaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. It allows a single message to be mass-shared, flash mob-style, so it rises above the noise of your social networks.
[help.thunderclap.it, 26 March 2017]

self-disruption noun [U]
/self.dɪsˈrʌp.ʃᵊn/
a major change made by a company to its traditional activities

For obvious reasons, reducing the number of insurance claims seems like a negative thing for insurance companies. If technology can prevent accidents from happening, then insurance companies will suffer. Fewer accidents means fewer claims, so why on earth has Direct Line embarked on a policy of self-disruption?
[disruptionhub.com, 20 February 2017]

About new words

I’ll believe it when I see it: talking about certainty, probability and possibility

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by Liz Walter

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that ‘nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes’. We all know how annoying it can be when someone seems to be completely sure about all their opinions, so it is important to be able to express certainty only where it is justified, and other degrees of probability or possibility where they are appropriate.

The most common way to do this is to use modal verbs. Compare the following sentences: Continue reading “I’ll believe it when I see it: talking about certainty, probability and possibility”

New words – 7 August 2017

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ube noun [C, U]
/ˈuːbeɪ/
a purple variety of sweet potato

Also known as ‘purple yam’, this bright purple vegetable features in increasingly popular Filipino cuisine and looks especially amazing in desserts. New Yorkers went crazy for ‘ube doughnuts’ last year, and the UK is hot on its heels.
[Sainsbury’s Magazine, January 2017]

soup dumpling noun [C]
/suːp.ˈdʌm.plɪŋ/
a Chinese dish consisting of a small ball of dough filled with soup

One of my favourite Chinese dishes is soup dumplings. The first time I tried them was in New York after a mate went on and on about them – and for good reason. Soup dumplings are everything you want in a small parcel – succulent and bursting with flavour.
[Grazia, 3 April 2017]

salad cake noun [C, U]
/ˈsæl.əd.keɪk/
a food that is designed to look like a sweet cake but is actually made of savoury ingredients such as soy and vegetables

Imagine biting into a beautiful cake, but instead of a sugary rush you get the fresh flavors of celery, carrot and red cabbage. Salad cakes – a new craze in Japan – offer exactly that experience … These sinless sweets substitute cream “frosting” for that made out of tofu, a “sponge” base for one of soy powder, eggs and vegetable oil, while the rainbow hues that decorate the “icing” come from natural vegetable colorings such as red beetroot juice.
[CNN.com, 13 March 2017]

About new words

Let’s bake a cake. (Cooking words)

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by Kate Woodford

One thing we haven’t dealt with yet on this blog is cooking vocabulary. We’re now making up for it with two posts devoted to common words used for preparing food. If you’re a keen cook, read on!

Let’s start with some basic cooking verbs relating to the inside of the oven. When we cook bread and cakes in an oven, we say we bake them: freshly baked bread / I’m going to bake a cake. However, for cooking meat and vegetables inside an oven, we use the verb roast: I’m roasting a chicken. / roasted vegetables. (We also use the verb ‘roast’ for cooking food, especially meat, over a fire.) Continue reading “Let’s bake a cake. (Cooking words)”

New words – 31 July 2017

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smellscape noun [C]
/ˈsmel.skeɪp/
a collection of the different smells associated with a particular place

“A smellscape is the olfactory equivalent of a landscape,” she says. “We spend most of our time walking around, we see things and we take about 80% of our information from that. But we’ve got four other senses, all of which contribute. And smell’s one of those senses that we pay very little heed to, but forms a huge part of how we absorb and how we know the world.”
[Sky News, 17 April 2017]

sun pillar noun [C]
UK /ˈsʌn.pɪl.əʳ/ US /ˈsʌn.pɪl.ɚ/
a narrow column of light that extends upwards or downwards from the Sun

“We cannot forecast optical phenomena,” a spokesperson said. “Sun pillars look very pretty if you are lucky enough to spot one. They are formed by the light reflecting off the ice crystals in high wispy clouds. The formation has to be just right for it to take place and we cannot predict it.”
[The Telegraph, 6 April 2017]

thundersnow noun [U]
UK /ˈθʌn.də.snəʊ/ US /ˈθʌn.dɚ.snoʊ/
a thunderstorm with snow instead of the more usual heavy rain

Thundersnow occurs far less frequently than a normal storm. This is because it is only able to occur during a couple of months of the year. It is incredibly rare in the UK. In the US, it is more common – they have an average of 6.3 instances of thundersnow a year.
[The Telegraph, 17 January 2017]

About new words

When no one was looking, she opened the door: Using narrative tenses

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by Liz Walter

Everyone tells stories. We do it every day, even if it’s just telling our family that we met an old friend in the supermarket. English exams often ask students to write anecdotes or descriptions of past events. An important part of telling a story is using the right tenses because they show the reader or listener how the events in your story fit together. There are four main tenses that are often used for stories – in English language teaching, they are often known as the narrative tenses, because they are used to narrate (=tell) a story. Continue reading “When no one was looking, she opened the door: Using narrative tenses”

New words – 24 July 2017

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volcano boarding noun [U]
UK /vɒlˈkeɪ.nəʊ.bɔː.dɪŋ/ US /vɑːlˈkeɪ.noʊ.bɔːr.dɪŋ/
the activity of moving down the side of a volcano while standing, sitting or lying on a board similar to a snowboard

Lakes, volcano [sic] and beaches dot the landscape of Nicaragua, set between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea in Central America. While searching for things to do there, we ran across volcano boarding. Maybe not the most thrilling experience you will have around an active volcano, but a distinctive one to say the least.
[www.tourismontheedge.com, 3 March 2017]

blob jump noun [C]
UK /ˈblɒb.dʒʌmp/ US /ˈblɑːb.dʒʌmp/
an activity in which one person sits at one end of an inflated airbag that is floating on water and one or more other people jump onto the other end from a platform in order to send the person flying into the air

Yaiza travelled to Ibiza along with 20 other Spanish applicants to battle it out for the two places available for Spaniards. They would be taking part in a blob jump. When it was Yaiza’s turn, she flew much further than expected, slamming into the water face first wearing a home-made astronaut suit.
[www.thelocal.es, 20 April 2016]

swimrun noun [C]
/ˈswɪm.rʌn/
a competition in which the people competing must swim and run a certain distance without stopping between events

Forget triathlons. The latest fitness trend and fashionable Scandi import is the “swimrun”, a fusion of cross-country running and open-water swimming – essentially a triathlon without the cycling. Originating in Sweden, it is gaining converts here, with thousands of people set to take part in the UK this year.
[The Times, 4 February 2017]

About new words