property noirnoun [U] UK /ˌprɒp.ə.ti.ˈnwɑːʳ/ US /ˌprɑː.pɚ.t̬i.ˈnwɑːr/ a style of crime fiction where the plot involves the people who live in a particular neighbourhood and the houses they live in
A clever enjoyable follow-up to Our House, Candlish’s award-winning first venture into property noir, this is scarily plausible. [www.telegraph.co.uk, 1 November 2018]
yardennoun [C] UK /ˈjɑː.dən/ US /ˈjɑːr.dən/ a small yard behind a house that has been turned into a garden
I wanted my yarden to be a quiet place of refuge, somewhere to relax in a slouchy chair after work, with a beer and a book, somewhere to get lost in my slippers on a Sunday morning and, after tweaking out a few weeds, discover that my cup of tea was stone cold and a couple of hours had passed… And as well as a marvellous, lush space, I also wanted to grow my own produce. [www.telegraph.co.uk, 9 February 2019]
/ˈdɪmbɪ/ abbreviation for develop in my back yard: someone who sells their house or land they own to a property developer
Of course, becoming a Dimby won’t work for everyone struggling to sell – you’ll usually need land on which to develop, and it helps if you have a single-storey property among taller buildings, or a detached home in a built-up area. [Sunday Times, 27 May 2018]
The idioms and phrases in this week’s post are taken from a range of national newspapers that were published during the course of a weekend. We write a newspaper idioms post every couple of months in order to keep you supplied with up-to-date, commonly used English idioms.
One newspaper reports on the front page that a major British company is ‘on the brink of’ collapse. To be on the brink of or teetering on the brink of, something, (especially something bad), is to be very close to doing it. The same paper writes that the leader of a political party has ‘come under fire’ from within his own party. To come under fireis to be severely criticized.
In the sports pages of that paper, we read that a Formula One champion is set to ‘play hardball’ with his rivals. If a person plays hardball, they are very determined to defeat someone, using force if necessary. On another page of the sports section, a journalist observes that the story of an athlete who has successfully recovered from cancer will ‘strike a chord’ with very many people. If something strikes a chord with you, you understand it and respond to it emotionally, usually because something similar has also happened to you.
Another broadsheet insists that a UK party leader must ‘stop sitting on the fence’ in relation to Brexit. To sit on the fence in a debate is to not support one side or the other. A guest columnist in the same paper claims that he is a ‘dab hand’ at making tasty dishes with kale (= a dark green cabbage). A dab hand is someone who is very good at a particular activity.
A third newspaper comments that many people now have a low opinion of politicians, assuming that they entered politics only to ‘feather their nests’. To feather your (own)nest is to deliberately make yourself rich, usually by doing something dishonest. In an article on ‘ethical fashion’, a campaigner claims that the fashion world has finally ‘turned a corner’ and is now serious about environmental issues. If a situation turns a/the corner, it improves after a difficult period.
Finally, all the newspapers report that people in their millions have ‘taken to the streets’ to protest against climate change. Take to the streets is a phrase that newspapers often use simply to mean ‘demonstrate’.
flight shamingnoun [U]
/ˈflaɪt.ʃeɪ.mɪŋ/ the act of making someone feel guilty about travelling by air because of the impact on the environment
Yet with growing pressure and heightened concern around global heating – plus potentially higher taxes in future on flights, to counter carbon emissions, and the social effect of “flight shaming” – it is possible there will be a more substantial shift in the coming years in the way holidaymakers travel. [www.theguardian.com, 9 June 2019]
Green Fridaynoun [C]
/ˌgriːn.ˈfraɪ.deɪ/ an alternative to Black Friday, when consumers are encouraged to shop less and/or to buy sustainable products instead
Blind consumerism is clearly a huge problem. Often times, the customer will settle on a product that lacks an ethical supply chain or a positive impact in the interest of getting the best deal. By celebrating Green Friday, we’re offering our customers a chance to get a killer deal on some great products made from sustainable materials with an ethical supply chain AND plant 10 trees for each item purchased. [www.tentree.com, 16 November 2018]
net zeroadjective UK /net.ˈzɪə.rəʊ/ US /net.ˈzɪə.roʊ/ describes a situation where the amount of carbon emissions put into the atmosphere is no more than the amount removed, thereby not allowing climate change to get worse
Theresa May has sought to cement some legacy in the weeks before she steps down as prime minister by enshrining in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so. The commitment … would make the UK the first member of the G7 group of industrialised nations to legislate for net zero emissions, Downing Street said. [www.theguardian.com, 11 June 2019]
She’s just pulling your leg – she doesn’t really expect you to do all the cooking.
You have a pet lion? Pull the other one!
We use ‘pull’ in several idioms connected with people making an effort and doing what they should do. If someone pulls their weight, they do their share of the work and if you pull out all the stops, you make as much effort as possible to ensure that something is successful or impressive.
Anyone who doesn’t pull their weight will have to leave the project.
They pulled out all the stops to make sure the president enjoyed his visit.
On the other hand, if someone tells you to pull your socks up, they are saying in an angry way that you should do something better.
You need to pull your socks up and start taking your studies a bit more seriously!
There are two nice ‘pull’ idioms connected with stopping things. If youpull the plug on an activity, you stop it, often by not spending any more money on it, and if you pull the rug from under someone’s feet, you suddenly stop supporting them or do something that causes serious problems for them:
They decided to pull the plug on their latest venture after disappointing sales in the first year.
We were planning a surprise party for their anniversary but they pulled the rug from under our feet by announcing they were going away on a cruise.
panda parentingnoun [U] UK /ˌpæn.də.ˈpeə.rᵊn.tɪŋ/ US /ˌpæn.də.ˈper.ᵊn.t̬ɪŋ/ a way of raising children that involves encouraging them to be independent and behave responsibly from a young age and allowing them to make mistakes in order to learn
Wojcicki credits the success of her three grown-up daughters to Panda Parenting. As children they could swim independently at two, went to the shops on their own at four, and walked to school alone at five. As adults they are the CEO of YouTube, a professor of paediatrics, and co-founder of genomics company 23andMe who’s worth around $440million. [kidspot.com.au, 16 May 2019]
/ˈfræŋ.kən.biː/ a bee that has had some of its genes changed scientifically so that it is resistant to dangers such as pesticides and viruses
So, what can be done about the pollination of crops that might cost farmers all over the world billions of dollars in losses? For many, the answer is to build a more resilient bee. Frankenbees, or genetically modified superbees, would be less susceptible to viruses, mites, and, yes, even pesticides. [www.earthlyperspective.com, 1 November 2018]
/ˈθer.ə.pet/ an animal, usually a dog, that is specially trained to calm people who are stressed or anxious, or to visit ill or elderly people
The therapets … will be easy to spot in their high-vis jackets and bandanas. They will mingle with passengers and staff to work their animal magic, both landside and airside throughout the terminal. The crew are already regular visitors to nursing homes, schools, prisons and universities, where they have helped improve mental health and well-being, alleviate stress and calm nerves. [www.eveningexpress.co.uk, 29 April 2019]
/ˈweksɪt/ the act of leaving a Whatsapp group, usually because you are annoyed with one or more of the other members
Finally … there’s always the possibility of making a Whexit – a well-timed “[insert name here] has left the group” is the equivalent of throwing a cocktail in someone’s face and flouncing out of the room, and just as fabulous. [Grazia, no date]
/ˈedʒ.lɔːd/ someone who says offensive or controversial things on social media in order to shock people
What’s different about ProZD, who’s otherwise known as the voice actor and YouTuber SungWon Cho, is how everything he makes is just nice. … “I think I’m just a nice guy,” says Cho. “I don’t feel the need to be a sort of edgelord, who tries to offend people — that’s just not in my nature,” he says. “I just make what I like to make.” [www.theverge.com, 12 July 2019]
offence archaeologynoun [U] UK /əˈfens.ˌɑː.kiˈɒl.ə.dʒi/ US /əˈfens.ˌɑːr.kiˈɑː.lə.dʒi/ the act of searching through someone’s old posts on social media websites to find offensive comments they have made in the past
Regardless of who it is directed at, offence archaeology is an ugly practice. It assumes the worst in people and unscrupulously takes comments out of context. One line taken from a conversation or a joke between friends may bear little relation to its intended meaning. Ransacking social media in search of something outrageous allows those pointing the finger to avoid difficult arguments while simultaneously assuming the moral high ground. [www.telegraph.co.uk, 25 June 2019]
Phrasal verbs are a very important part of English (even if students hate them!) and I have written several posts explaining useful ones. I realised recently that there is a surprisingly large number of phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs relating to emotions. Today I am going to concentrate on happiness and sadness. My next post will cover some other emotions, and a final post will present a selection of phrasal verbs for talking more generally about emotions. Continue reading “Weighed down or perking up? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 1”→
life extensionistnoun [C]
/laɪf.ɪkˈsten.ʃᵊnɪst/ someone who tries to find ways of making people live longer to the point when they become immortal
Life extensionists have become a fervent and increasingly vocal bunch. Famously, the community includes venture capitalists and Silicon Valley billionaires … who consider death undesirable and appear to have made so much money they require infinite life in which to spend it. [The Observer Magazine, 23 June 2019]
patient influencernoun [C] UK /ˌpeɪ.ʃᵊnt.ˈɪn.flu.ən.səʳ/ US /ˌpeɪ.ʃᵊnt.ˈɪn.flu.ən.sɚ/ someone who is paid by a pharmaceutical company to review or promote its products on social media sites such as Instagram
With respect to Instagram advertising, this can be problematic because a consumer might associate a product with an influencer’s entire feed rather than the information presented in a single ad. To add insult to injury, some patient influencers — who have every financial incentive to promote their products “authentically” — may omit critical health information, thus deceiving potential patients. [www.vox.com, 15 February 2019]
gender health gapnoun [C] UK /ˌdʒen.də.ˈhelθ.gæp/ US /ˌdʒen.dɚ.ˈhelθ.gæp/ the inequality in the way that men and women experience the healthcare system
The gender health gap is varied and complex — it’s less a case of outright sexism, more entrenched societal values — but, ultimately, the statistics suggest women’s lives are being put at risk. [www.telegraph.co.uk, 22 May 2019]