It makes my flesh crawl: idioms for Halloween

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by Liz Walter

The evening of October 31st usually sees hordes of children dressed up as ghosts, skeletons or other scary figures, excitedly collecting mountains of sweets on their ‘trick-or-treat’ expeditions. Covid-19 has paused many of these activities, but I hope you will still enjoy this post on spooky idioms! Continue reading “It makes my flesh crawl: idioms for Halloween”

New words – 26 October 2020

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Blue Health noun [U]
the benefits to your physical and mental health that come from spending time in, on, or near water

The healing power of water is a phenomenon now being labelled “Blue Health”, and is one that scientists are starting to examine in earnest. One of the biggest research projects is led by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health based at the University of Exeter. It involves more than 90 experts across the continent, and is due to report on the bulk of its findings at the end of the year.
[, 15 August 2020]

grounding noun [U]
an activity that involves direct contact with the Earth, such as walking barefoot outdoors, thought by some people to increase physical and mental health

The simplest and most natural method of grounding is to go outdoors and place your bare feet and hands directly on the earth—many people choose to go for a barefoot walk in the park or on the beach. (A note: Walking barefoot in your home, where minimally conductive or nonconductive materials like concrete foundations and hardwood floors insulate us from the earth’s electric potential, will not have the same effect.)
[, no date]

empowerment space noun [C]
UK /ɪmˈpaʊə.mənt.speɪs/ US /ɪmˈpaʊ.ɚ.mənt.speɪs/
a place where people can attend different types of classes and workshops in order to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing

Britain is finally catching on to one of the biggest trends from America’s east coast: “empowerment spaces” … inspired by cult luxury wellness hubs such as NYC’s The Well. In the UK, an emporium dedicated to mental health called the Soke will open in Chelsea on September 28. Based in a five-storey townhouse, it will offer services inclusing psychiatry, psychotherapy and counselling, as well as leadership development.
[Sunday Times, 6 September 2020]

About new words

The thing is … (Useful conversational phrases with ‘thing’)

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by Kate Woodford

‘Thing’ may not seem the most exciting word to base a blog post on, but it features in a very large number of informal expressions that are often used in conversation. If you’re interested in improving your English conversation, you might want to spend ten minutes reading this post!

Continue reading “The thing is … (Useful conversational phrases with ‘thing’)”

New words – 19 October 2020

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medfluencer noun [C]
UK /ˈmed.flu.ən.səʳ/ US /ˈmed.flu.ən.sɚ/
a medical doctor who gives advice, recommends products etc. on social media

He is a pin-up, albeit one mainly in scrubs. Kharma is part of a new set of social media stars called the medfluencers, doctors with thousands of Instagram followers and YouTube channels where videos get millions of views.
[The Times, 15 August 2020]

digital campfire noun [C]
UK /ˌdɪdʒ.ɪ.tᵊl.ˈkæmp.faɪəʳ/ US /ˌdɪdʒ.ə.t̬ᵊl.ˈkæmp.faɪr/
a small group of people who communicate online, usually on a social media site

If social media can feel like a crowded airport terminal where everyone is allowed, but no one feels particularly excited to be there, digital campfires offer a more intimate oasis where smaller groups of people are excited to gather around shared interests. I’ve identified three categories of digital campfires: private messaging, micro-communities, and shared experiences. Some digital campfires are a combination of all three.
[Harvard Business Review, 5 February 2020]

social listening noun [U]
UK /ˌsəʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈlɪs.ᵊn.ɪŋ/ US /ˌsoʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈlɪs.ᵊn.ɪŋ/
the activity of collecting information from social media sites on what people are saying about a particular topic, such as a product or brand

The number of social media conversations happening at any given time is massive. They ebb and flow with the news and cover any and all topics. From grandparents sharing local, old photos on Facebook groups to endless pop culture debates on Reddit. Social listening, or social media listening, gives you the ability to take all these conversations and get meaningful insights and data out of them.
[, 1 January 2020]

About new words

Between you, me and the gatepost: idioms connected with secrets

Images By Tang Ming Tung/Stone/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Everyone has secrets, and if someone confides their secret to you, that is a real sign of trust. Conversely, giving away someone’s secret is an act that can range from being a minor annoyance to a friendship-breaking betrayal. No wonder, then, that there are so many colourful and widely-used idioms and phrases that refer to this topic.

Continue reading “Between you, me and the gatepost: idioms connected with secrets”

New words – 12 October 2020

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Japandi noun [U]
a style of home decor that combines Japanese and Scandinavian elements

A mash-up of elegant Japanese minimalism and rustic Scandinavian simplicity, Japandi is a hybrid trend bringing together the best bits of two much-loved styles. Your home is your sanctuary and you take a less-is-more approach with uncluttered spaces, clean lines and a calm, subdued colour palette. At the same time, you want your home to feel relaxed and comfortable, lived-in and homely, so finding a balance between minimal and cosy is key.
[, 21 February 2020]

grandmillennial adjective
relating to a style of dressing or decorating a home that combines old-fashioned items with modern ones

If you’re a wearer of a maxi floral dress and a chunky white trainer then you’re probably gonna love the grandmillennial style. The Millennial in us craves a simple and contemporary aesthetic, whereas the Granny in us can’t resist a bit of pattern and glamorous nostalgia from the art-deco era.
[, 23 February 2020]

tablescaping noun [U]
the activity of setting a dining table in a very artistic, decorative way, usually for a special occasion

Put simply, tablescaping is the art of dressing your table for a dinner party or special occasion – in the same way you might put together an outfit for a night out. Starting with the tablecloth, you colour-coordinate and theme your way up to the napkins, plates, bowls, salt and pepper shakers and candles, finishing off with a vase of flowers or a bowl of fresh seasonal fruit.
[, 26 July 2020]

About new words

Soft spots and big guns (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)

Sean Gladwell/Moment/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

The idioms and expressions in today’s post come from a range of national newspapers that were published on the same day. We write a post on phrases used in newspapers every couple of months in order to give you a regular supply of contemporary, frequently used English expressions. Continue reading “Soft spots and big guns (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)”

New words – 5 October 2020

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physical literacy noun [U]
UK /ˌfɪz.ɪ.kᵊl.ˈlɪt.ᵊr.ə.si/ US /ˌfɪz.ɪ.kᵊl.ˈlɪt̬.ɚ.ə.si/
the ability to carry out basic physical activities, such as running, jumping, throwing and catching

Children should be taught “physical literacy” in the same way they learn to read and write if the gold-medal successes of athletes such as Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson are to translate into more people getting active, the head of the body tasked with increasing sporting uptake in England has said.
[The Guardian, 5 October 2019]

death diving noun [U]
a sport in which participants jump in a horizontal position from a diving board, only tucking their arms and legs in just before they hit the water

Arne Haugland, a Norwegian man who competes in “death diving” competitions, shared a video of himself taking a terrifying, headfirst leap into a hole in a partially frozen body of water in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago located between mainland Norway and the North Pole.
[, 7 May 2020]

chessboxing noun [U]
UK /ˈtʃes.bɒk.sɪŋ/ US /ˈtʃes.bɑːk.sɪŋ/
a sport that combines chess and boxing

The fusion of chess and boxing into the hybrid sport of “chessboxing” has provoked controversy as its supporters prepare to host the first pay-per-view event next weekend. Devotees of the “game of kings” have decried chessboxing as a “freak show” and a “hoax” that combines “bad chess and worse boxing”.
[, 18 July 2020]

About new words

Permanent, temporary, fulfilling and dead-end jobs: collocations for work (2)

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by Liz Walter

My last post looked at collocations for starting and leaving jobs. This one will look at collocations that describe the experience of having a job.

Continue reading “Permanent, temporary, fulfilling and dead-end jobs: collocations for work (2)”

New words – 28 September 2020

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boreout noun [U]
extreme tiredness and depression caused by being bored at work over a long period of time

Unlike burnout, boreout can be caused by there being no work or too little of it (rather than being overloaded with it), which can have an adverse impact on an employee’s psychological well-being. Although there are different boredom thresholds, the onset of boreout is directly related to work tasks being too few and far between, off-putting, or meaningless.
[, 4 April 2019]

workation noun [C]
UK /wɜː.ˈkeɪ.ʃᵊn/ US /wɝː.ˈkeɪ.ʃᵊn/
a holiday where you stay in a hotel or other accommodation and work from there

For many years I’ve been on “workation”, doing my job in hotels across the country. Covid-19 put a stop to all that and gave me time to reflect. The hospitality industry will need our help more than ever over the coming months if it is to survive. Given that I can now work from any location in the UK, I’ve decided to take mini-breaks during the off-season, and continue working as I go.
[Sunday Times, 23 August 2020]

adaptability quotient noun [C]
UK /əˌdæp.təˈbɪl.ə.ti.ˈkwəʊ.ʃᵊnt/ US /əˌdæp.təˈbɪl.ə.t̬i.ˈkwoʊ.ʃᵊnt/
the ability of someone or the company they work for to adapt to change and stay successful

If you want a competitive advantage right now (and admit it, who isn’t feeling insecure about work?), what you need is not a high IQ, or EQ, but AQ – “adaptability quotient”. How to improve adaptability is one of the most common questions business coaches are being asked. You can start, says the executive coach Dr Sally Ann Law, by “observing how others do things and being open-minded about their way being better than yours”.
[Sunday Times, 21 June 2020]

About new words