When disaster strikes: ways of describing bad events

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by Liz Walter

First, apologies for the gloomy subject! However, we can’t read the news without being aware of terrible things that happen in the world, and there is a rich selection of vocabulary to describe them, including some nice collocations. Continue reading “When disaster strikes: ways of describing bad events”

New words – 18 November 2019

facial fingerprint noun [C]
UK /ˌfeɪ.ʃᵊl.ˈfɪŋ.gə.prɪnt/ US /ˌfeɪ.ʃᵊl.ˈfɪŋ.gɚ.prɪnt/
the pattern of lines and other markings on someone’s face that is different in every person and can be used for identification purposes

Unless you have an unshakeable faith in the incorruptibility of our own state – which, judging by the wider mood, most of us don’t – it seems bafflingly reckless to offer up your face to be logged. Yet more than 150 million people, so far, have downloaded FaceApp. Millions more have handed over their facial fingerprints in order to unlock their smartphones more easily, or to activate Apple’s cute little Animojis.
[www.telegraph.co.uk, 18 July 2019] Continue reading “New words – 18 November 2019”

Comical and hysterical (Words that mean funny)

Melody A/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

‘A day without laughter is a day wasted,’ said Charlie Chaplin, the comic actor and filmmaker. Whether or not you agree with him, you’ll almost certainly want to describe, in English, things that are funny. In this week’s post, we’ll provide you with a range of words to help you do just that. Continue reading “Comical and hysterical (Words that mean funny)”

New words – 11 November 2019

Dougal Waters / DigitalVision / GettyImages

breatharian noun [C]
UK /breθ.ˈeə.ri.ən/ US /breθ.ˈer.i.ən/
someone who believes that by doing a special type of breathing exercise they can get all the nutrients they need from air and do not have to eat solid food

Audra Bear identifies as a breatharian and claims she fasts for up to 97 days because food gets in the way of her enjoyment of life. Despite the dangers and lack of any scientific backing whatsoever that it works, Audra, 25, insists that it is good for her. She has tried various diets over the years including being a vegan then a raw vegan for four years before taking on so-called pranic living and breatharianism.
[Metro, 28 June 2019] Continue reading “New words – 11 November 2019”

Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2019

Our Word of the Year 2019 is . . . upcycling.

This word was chosen based on the Word of the Day that resonated most strongly with fans on the Cambridge Dictionary Instagram account, @CambridgeWords. The word upcycling – defined as the activity of making new furniture, objects, etc. out of old or used things or waste material – received more likes than any other Word of the Day (it was shared on 4 July 2019). Continue reading “Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2019”

New words – 4 November 2019

Morsa Images / DigitalVision / GettyImages

microworker noun [C]
UK /ˈmaɪ.krəʊ.wɜːkəʳ/ US /ˈmaɪ.kroʊ.wɝːkɚ/
someone whose job is to carry out a number of small but important tasks online that need human input and cannot be done by a computer

Two years ago she swapped her dental practice for online work as part of the global army of hidden “microworkers” – performing tasks that machines alone cannot. Think of a day in your “digital life”. Whether it’s your phone’s search engine recommending relevant restaurants or a music app’s suggested playlist – none of this would be possible without microworkers.
[www.bbc.co.uk/news, 2 August 2019]

slashie noun [C]
/ˈslæʃ.i/
someone who has several different jobs at the same time, from the use of the slash (/) in, for example, writer/dog walker/barista

Sam Gray is a so-called “slashie” … She’s a former teacher living in Torquay, and currently works five different jobs. In addition to her own dog-grooming business, Toodles, Sam works as a private tutor, teaches crochet and sells patterns, works security for nightclubs and bars and works two 12-hour night shifts at a local arcade.
[www.bbc.co.uk/news, 22 April 2019]

micro-bonus noun [C]
UK /’maɪkrəʊ.ˌbəʊnəs/ US /’maɪkroʊ.ˌboʊnəs/
a small amount of money made available by a company for employees to give to their colleagues as a reward for good work

Former employees of businesses that use the micro-bonus peer-to-peer system aren’t quite of the same opinion, with claims it’s “open to abuse”, as well as the fact that it can result in a popularity contest and diminish the value of the work you do, by making it seem like you’re purely working for tips.
[www.executivegrapevine.com, 17 May 2019]

About new words

Freaking out or shrugging it off? Phrasal verbs to express emotions (3)

Florin Christian Ailenei/EyeEm/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

My last two posts looked at phrasal verbs to describe a range of specific emotions, so I thought it would be nice to round the topic off by covering some phrasal verbs for talking about emotions in a more general way.

If someone shows a very strong negative emotion such as fear or anger, we can say informally that they freak out.

He freaked out when he saw the size of the waves Continue reading “Freaking out or shrugging it off? Phrasal verbs to express emotions (3)”

New words – 28 October 2019

Marco Bottigelli / Moment / Getty

undertourism noun [U]
UK /ˌʌn.də.ˈtʊə.rɪ.zəm/ US /ˌʌn.dɚ.ˈtʊr.ɪ.zəm/
the situation when a city or other holiday destination does not receive many tourists or enough tourists

But a new phenomenon is developing. “Undertourism” is the increasingly common marketing tactic being used by less-frequented destinations. Come here, they say, because we’re not as rammed as the neighbours. Visit us, and you won’t have to queue for your Instagram likes.
[www.nationalgeographic.co.uk, 12 August 2019]

DNA trip noun [C]
/ˌdiː.enˈeɪ.trɪp/
a holiday taken by someone who has taken a DNA test to trace their ancestry, to a destination where their ancestors came from, according to that test

But to really dive into your DIY DNA trip, you will want a full-featured travel web site. Travel sites started out more than 20 years ago as search engines for the cheapest airline tickets or bargain hotel rooms. Thankfully for the DNA traveler, things have come a long way since those days.
[www.bestonlinereviews.com, 27 March 2019]

begpacker noun [C]
UK /ˈbeg.pæk.əʳ/ US /ˈbeg.pæk.ɚ/
someone who goes on holiday and begs for money from local people

Authorities in Thailand, Indonesia, and other countries are cracking down on “begpackers”: usually young Westerners who ask locals for money to help fund their journeys. Some of the travelers sell photographs or perform songs on sidewalks, while others simply ask for quick handouts… The locals to who give begpackers money are often poorer than the travelers.
[www.businessinsider.com, 25 July 2019]

About new words

See you on the march! (The language of protests)

Hero Images/Hero Images/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

On September 20th, four million people across the globe expressed their concern and anger about climate change by demonstrating (=gathering or walking in a public place to show their opinion). We thought this a good time to look at the language of demonstrating.

First up, the verb protest is a synonym for ‘demonstrate’: Employees are protesting against the cuts. In US English especially, ‘protest’ is often used transitively: Students protested the laws. A phrase that is frequently used, especially in newspapers, to mean ‘protest’ is take to the streets: Millions took to the streets in the largest environmental protest in history. Continue reading “See you on the march! (The language of protests)”

New words – 21 October 2019

PeopleImages / E+ / Getty

serial returner noun [C]
UK /ˌsɪə.ri.əl.rɪˈtɜːnəʳ/ US /ˌsɪr.i.əl.rɪˈtɝːnɚ/
someone who buys a lot of clothes online and returns all or most of them, usually because the company allows them to do this for free

I have always been a serial returner. I order clothes, try them on and send them back. I am not alone. Now stores, which have attracted consumers with generous pledges of free delivery and returns, have begun to tighten their policies.
[www.theguardian.com, 15 May 2019]

crow noun [C]
UK /krəʊ/ US /kroʊ/
someone who is invited to attend a fashion show and sit in the front row, usually because they work in fashion or are a famous singer, actor, etc.

At the recent month of fashion shows, front-rowers – known as “the crows” for their attachment to wearing black – were instead clad head to toe in shades of chocolate, caramel and mahogany.
[The Times, 20 October 2018]

pre-clashed adjective
/ˈpriːˌklæʃt/
(of a single piece of clothing) featuring different patterns, such as spots and stripes

Fashion is having an ambivalent moment and, with shoppers apparently unwilling or unable to choose between two distinct designs, the trend for “pre-clashed clothes” is growing. At high street retailer Zara, there are dresses with ditsy prints alongside big swirling florals, as well as wrap dresses in contrasting colour blocks, usually with a vertical split.
[www.theguardian.com, 1 February 2019]

About new words