two white mice hiding inside a hole - a white cat is visible outside

Look out! Talking about being careful.

two white mice hiding inside a hole - a white cat is visible outside
Michael Blann/The Image Bank/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

It is natural to want our family and friends to be safe, and this post looks at words connected with being careful – both for advising people to be careful and for describing careful people and actions. Continue reading “Look out! Talking about being careful.”

a bright green light moving through the night sky

New words – 30 January 2023

a bright green light moving through the night sky
Triphecta / iStock / Getty Images Plus

green comet noun [C]
UK /ˌgriːn ˈkɒm.ɪt / US /ˌgriːnˈkɑː.mɪt/
a type of comet (= an object that moves around the sun that is seen on rare occasions from the earth as a bright line in the sky) that has a green glow because of radiation from the sun

A green comet that will be visible from Earth for the first time since the Ice Age appears to be undergoing unusual changes. Comet ZTF has created excitement in recent weeks as it has hurtled towards Earth, coming close enough to the planet that it should be visible to the naked eye. It will be the first close approach for 50,000 years, and will reach its closest point on 1 February.
[, 21 January 2023]

green gentrification noun [U]
UK /ˌgriːn ˌdʒen.trɪ.fɪˈkeɪ.ʃən / US /ˌgriːn ˌdʒen.trə.fəˈkeɪ.ʃən/
the process by which a place changes from being a poor area to a richer one because measures taken to make the area more environmentally friendly have made it a more desirable place to live and have caused house prices etc. to increase

As neighborhoods become greener, they also become more attractive… and more expensive. In several cities around the world, neighborhoods that have benefited from environmental greening are becoming an object of desire among real estate professionals, who raise the price of housing, thus attracting a new, wealthier segment of the population. This process is called “green gentrification.”
[, 28 September 2022]

green noise noun [U]
/ˌgriːn ˈnɔɪz/
a mixture of sounds or electrical signals that resembles sounds heard in nature, such as waterfalls or rustling leaves, and is thought to help people to relax

“Green noise is a variation of white noise in the middle of the spectrum,” sleep expert Martin Seeley says. “But as its name suggests, many of the sounds are what we would consider nature. Some great examples of green noise can be the sound of water on a beach, or trickling waterfalls – anything that is attuned to nature and promotes relaxation.”
[, 10 December 2022]

About new words

Young woman pushes a kayak in the water of lake on a summer sunny day.

Paying through the nose and pushing the boat out (Money Idioms, Part 1)

Young woman pushes a kayak in the water of lake on a summer sunny day.
Remains/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

Today, in the latest of my money-themed posts, I’m looking at money idioms, by which I mean idioms that say something about money (and not idioms about other subjects that feature the words ‘penny’, ‘money’, ‘coin’ etc.). There are lots of money idioms so this is Part 1 and we’ll publish Part 2 in a couple of weeks. Continue reading “Paying through the nose and pushing the boat out (Money Idioms, Part 1)”

a pile of folded blue denim jeans

New words – 23 January 2023

a pile of folded blue denim jeans
naveebird / iStock / Getty Images Plus

denim archaeologist noun [C]
UK /ˌden.ɪm ˌɑː.kiˈɒl.ə.dʒɪst/ US /ˌden.ɪm ˌɑːr.kiˈɑː.lə.dʒɪst/
someone whose job is to find and study old items of clothing made from denim

A pair of Levi’s jeans from the 1880s has sold at an auction in a small town in New Mexico for more than $87,000. The jeans – found in an abandoned mine by a “denim archaeologist” – were bought by 23-year-old Kyle Hautner and Zip Stevenson, a veteran of the vintage denim market.
[, 13 October 2022]

digital removalist noun [C]
UK /ˌdɪdʒ.ɪ.tᵊl rɪˈmuː.vᵊl.ɪst/ US /ˌdɪdʒ.ə.t̬ᵊl rɪˈmuː.vᵊl.ɪst/
someone whose job is to remove any content from a person’s social media posts that may harm their reputation

Social media, viral posts, and the complexity of the Internet make it difficult to delete embarrassing public and private moments that make their way online. Jon Brodsky, a manager at, says Generation Z is growing up without the awareness of the consequences that can come from a regretful digital footprint. “As this generation starts to enter the workforce, digital removalists will be in high demand to erase anything incriminating that could impact their future opportunities.”
[, 2 December 2022]

parastronaut noun [C]
UK /pærˈæs.trə.nɔːt/ US /pærˈæs.trə.nɑːt/
a person with a physical disability who has been trained to travel in space

The European Space Agency made history last week with the announcement of the first “parastronaut”, 41-year-old UK citizen John McFall. He is the first candidate selected for the Parastronaut Feasibility project, described by ESA as a “serious, dedicated and honest attempt to clear the path to space for a professional astronaut with a physical disability”.
[, 1 December 2022]

About new words

close-up of a hand drawing five yellow stars with a yellow highlighter pen

Conflicting, positive or strongly held? Using the word ‘opinion’

close-up of a hand drawing five yellow stars with a yellow highlighter pen
Dilok Klaisataporn/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

You will probably already know several ways to express your opinions in English. This post is about something different: the words we use with the noun opinion – in other words, its collocations. Continue reading “Conflicting, positive or strongly held? Using the word ‘opinion’”

a young girl waves at the camera from the passenger seat of a car that is being driven by her mother

New words – 16 January 2023

a young girl waves at the camera from the passenger seat of a car that is being driven by her mother
Rafael Ben-Ari / Photodisc / Getty

chauffeur mum noun [C]
UK /ˈʃəʊ.fə ˌmʌm/ US /ʃoʊˈfɝː ˌmʌm/
a mother who lives in an area with little or no public transport and spends a lot of time driving her children to and from school and other places

Chauffeur mums are a well-known Australian phenomenon. A lack of convenient transport options coupled with gendered roles has made many suburban women (and their children) car-dependent, whether they like it or not. And, more often than not, the demands of household chores and child rearing fall more heavily on women.
[, 8 November 2022]

sittervising noun [U]
UK /ˈsɪt.ə.vaɪ.zɪŋ/ US /ˈsɪt̬.ɚ.vaɪ.zɪŋ/
the activity of watching your children while they play on their own

Sittervising may sound obvious once you realize what it is (sitting while supervising your kids). But think about it: How often do you sit on the park bench while your child plays on the playground? Exactly. The goal of sittervising is to let your kids hang independently while you take a minute (or two) to yourself.
[, 31 August 2022]

jellyfish parent noun [C]
UK /ˈdʒel.i.fɪʃ ˌpeə.rᵊnt/ US /ˈdʒel.i.fɪʃ ˌper.ᵊnt/
a mother or father who is not very strict with their children and often spoils them

Other styles of parenting have been developed over the years inspired by animals: jellyfish parents are more lenient and permissive in their parenting. They have few rules for their children and can often overindulge them. Studies have shown that children raised by jellyfish parents show a lack of impulse control. Jellyfish parents prioritise connection and love over setting rules and boundaries. They very rarely use punishments to discipline their children.
[, 27 April 2022]

About new words

a colourful photo collage of a woman's hand holding a credit card surrounded by a plate of food, car, piggy bank, online shopping icon, and house

Skimping and splurging (Verbs for spending money)

a colourful photo collage of a woman's hand holding a credit card surrounded by a plate of food, car, piggy bank, online shopping icon, and house
We Are/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Last month I wrote a post on words and phrases used to talk about our money habits. Continuing with the money theme, I’m looking this week at verbs and verb phrases for spending money. Continue reading “Skimping and splurging (Verbs for spending money)”

a woman in bed blowing her nose

New words – 9 January 2023

a woman in bed blowing her nose
Peter Dazeley / The Image Bank / Getty

tripledemic noun [C]
the widespread outbreak of Covid-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus at the same time

The United States has already plunged into one of the roughest seasons of winter illnesses in decades. After nearly three years of being sequestered, children and adults are back out in crowds, with no masks, no distancing, and viruses waiting with open arms … With what’s now being called a tripledemic, which includes Covid-19, flu, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) already spreading rapidly, the winter ahead could be worse.
[, 28 November 2022]

mpox noun [U]
UK /ˈem.pɒk.s/ US /ˈem.pɑːk.s/
a new word for monkeypox (= a disease caused by a virus that can be spread to humans by monkeys, apes, rats, and other animals)

The World Health Organization, responding to complaints that the word monkeypox conjures up racist tropes and stigmatizes patients, is recommending that the name of the disease be changed to mpox. Both names are to be used for a year until monkeypox is phased out … “W.H.O. will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name,” the health organization said in a statement.
[, 28 November 2022]

mind dieting noun [U]
/ˈmaɪnd ˌdaɪ.ətɪŋ/
the activity of thinking carefully about what you eat in a way that motivates you to choose foods that are better for you

The first predicted health trend of 2023 is “mind dieting,” which according to nutritionist Lexi Crouch, involves getting the mind into shape by understanding your eating patterns. This can help people get to the root of their unhealthy diet choices. “From keto to fasting, physical dieting is always a hot topic but to get the best results from any diet, health kick or lifestyle change, it might be time to also try a psychological diet,” she said.
[, 6 November 2022]

About new words

a man looking shocked and disbelieving

No way! Using the word ‘way’ (2)

a man looking shocked and disbelieving
Vadym Pastukh/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

My last post looked at some meanings of the word way and how to avoid common mistakes when using it. This post will look at just a few of the very many useful phrases that contain way. Continue reading “No way! Using the word ‘way’ (2)”

an office with several young people working at desktop computers at a shared table

New words – 2 January 2023

an office with several young people working at desktop computers at a shared table
Estelle Johnson / EyeEm / Getty

productivity theatre noun [U]
UK /ˌprɒd.ʌkˈtɪv.ə.ti ˈθɪə.təʳ/ US /ˌproʊ.dəkˈtɪv.ə.t̬i ˈθiː.ə.t̬ɚ/
a way someone behaves at work that makes them appear to be working very hard, even if this is not the case

We know there is a disconnect between the views of employers and employees on the productivity of working from home. Employees are happier and believe they are more productive; their managers are not so sure. Now it seems, that some of those employees are indulging in what has been termed “productivity theatre”. They make sure their mouse moves frequently – even if they are not working productively – in case their keystrokes are being monitored. They also attend online meetings which do not directly involve them so managers can spot their participation.
[, 12 October 2022]

anti-perk noun [C]
UK /ˈæn.tiˌpɜːk/ US /ˈæn.t̬iˌpɝːk/
an advantage someone is given because of their job that is in fact not useful or helpful

“Anti-perks” are perks that sound good but don’t actually matter to workers. The biggest offender? Unlimited vacation, which doesn’t really work unless the company encourages employees to take time off. Other perks that drew feisty replies include free booze, free massages, and special-purpose rooms (e.g., fitness, nap, and meditation rooms).
[, 28 September 2022]

boomerang employee noun [C]
/ˈbuː.mə.ræŋ ɪmˌplɔɪ.iː/
someone who goes back to work for a company they have already worked for in the past

Returning workers are also more likely to be given short shrift: coming back to a past employer means there is greater pressure to perform compared to new starters. “Although boomerang employees generally tend to be better performers, they’re also more likely to be fired than external hires – managers expect them to know the organisation right away,” says Keller. “While new starters may be given the benefit of the doubt, a re-hire not living up to expectations is more likely to be laid off.”
[, 9 August 2022]

About new words