Stay one step ahead with phrases containing the number one!

Adrienne Bresnahan/Moment/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

It is quite astonishing how many English phrases contain numbers, so this is the first in a mini-series looking at some of the most useful of them. Today, I’m starting – very logically! – with the number one. Continue reading “Stay one step ahead with phrases containing the number one!”

New words – 3 May 2021

Jose Luis Pelaez / Photodisc / Getty

sunshine shift noun [C]
a period of time worked by an employee of a café or restaurant that can only open outdoors, and which can be cancelled by the employer if the weather is not good enough to attract customers

Make space in your Covid dictionary for another new entry: the “sunshine shift”, a post-plague play on the zero-hours contract, in which hospitality workers are guaranteed work only when the sun is out. Sunshine shifts will be a reality for bar and waiting staff working at Liverpool venues owned by Natalie Haywood’s Leaf Group … She is resigned to probably operating at a loss until she can open up indoors.
[, 6 April 2021]

human cloud noun [S]
the freelance workers located anywhere in the world who are employed to work on individual tasks that can be done on a computer

The software tools that allow the gig economy to run are called ‘human cloud platforms’. Employers are beginning to see the human cloud as a new way to get work done. Jobs are divided into projects or tasks within a virtual cloud of willing workers all over the world.
[, 6 July 2020]

boffice noun [C]
UK /ˈbɒf.ɪs/ US /ˈbɑːf.ɪs/
a bed used as a workspace by someone who works from home

While the boffice can be used for any kind of work that requires nothing more than a laptop, notebook and phone, it comes into its own for a specific task that requires focus and for which there is a deadline. (Writers need deadlines, even though most of us do our damnedest to avoid them until they are right upon us.)
[, 14 April 2020]

About new words

Take your pick! (Words and phrases for choosing things)

by Kate Woodford

Guido Mieth/Moment/GettyImages

This week, we’re looking at the many different ways we talk about choosing things. We’ll cover both one-word synonyms and phrases. As you might expect, this round-up will include a number of phrasal verbs. Continue reading “Take your pick! (Words and phrases for choosing things)”

New words – 26 April 2021

bojanstory / E+ / Getty

vaccine hunter noun [C]
UK /ˈvæk.siːn.ˌhʌn.təʳ/ US /ˈvæk.siːn.ˌhʌn.t̬ɚ/
someone who uses the internet to look for and organize covid-19 vaccination appointments on behalf of other people who cannot do this themselves

Some vaccine hunters brag on Facebook about landing 50 or 100 appointments, but every time I add names to my list I worry I won’t be able to find appointments for them since the situation is so challenging, and I feel pressure to deliver quickly.
[, 22 March 2021]

scariant noun [C]
UK /ˈskeə.ri.ənt/ US /ˈsker.i.ənt/
any new variant of covid-19 that people are very worried about because of the way it is reported in the media, despite the lack of scientific evidence to suggest it is any more dangerous than the original virus

Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, says this parade of “scariants” serves more to snag headlines and frighten the public than to further scientific understanding of the coronavirus. On Twitter this week, one of his colleagues … called out news stories about the California and New York variants for “atrocious reporting and sloppy science.”
[, 5 March 2021]

panpanic noun [C or U]
a strong feeling of fear experienced by many people during the covid-19 pandemic, leading to a lack of reasonable thought and action

I am sick to the back teeth of the “panpanic” coronavirus has triggered. It’s time to take a collective breath and get a grip … The panpanic has the capacity to be even more serious and destructive. I am not insensitive to the unfolding tragedy and the thousands of tragedies within it. But it follows that now is not the time for everyone to panic.
[, 1 April 2020]

About new words

A new coat of paint: the language of decorating

John Giustina/The Image Bank/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

In my last post, I looked at general language for home improvements. This post will focus on one specific area: decorating. As you will see, there are lots of nice collocations associated with this topic. Continue reading “A new coat of paint: the language of decorating”

New words – 19 April 2021

Westend61 / Getty

gleefreshing noun [U]
the activity of refreshing news websites and social media updates on your phone or other device in order to read positive news stories

There’s also something about the in-betweenness of this moment that really enables the gleefreshing: the second the good news is official, there will still be the Senate, the coronavirus, the Supreme Court, and our broken economy to worry about … Gleefreshing has no real chance of edging out doomscrolling as the definitive experience of 2020.
[, 6 November 2020]

social biome noun [C]
UK /ˌsəʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈbaɪ.əʊm/ US /ˌsoʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈbaɪ.oʊm/
the system of relationships and interactions you have with other people, thought to be necessary for good mental and physical wellbeing

Just like how your gut microbiome benefits from diverse plant foods and top-ups of fermented stuff … so your social biome thrives when nurtured with an abundance of meaningful connections. Think: a deep chat with your oldest mate about how you’re feeling, a playful conversation with a colleague and checking in on an older family member, to show that you care.
[, 12 November 2020]

happiness economist noun [C]
UK /ˈhæp.i.nəs.iˈkɒn.ə.mɪst/ US /ˈhæp.i.nəs.iˈkɑː.nə.mɪst/
someone whose job is to study the links between a country’s wealth and the happiness of its people

Meet the 85-year-old happiness economist who wants to transform our national wellbeing. Richard Layard, author of Can We Be Happier?, believes a nation’s priority should be its citizens’ happiness.
[, 19 March 2021]

About new words

Breaking the ice and throwing caution to the wind (Weather idioms, Part 3)

by Kate Woodford

Bill Hornstein/Moment/GettyImages

This is the last in a series of posts on idioms containing words for different types of weather. Today, we’ll mainly be looking at ‘ice’ and ‘wind’ idioms, but we’ll start with a very common idiom containing the word ‘weather’ itself. If someone is under the weather, they feel rather ill: I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather all week, as if I’m getting a cold. Continue reading “Breaking the ice and throwing caution to the wind (Weather idioms, Part 3)”

New words – 12 April 2021

Angelos Mihas / iStock / Getty Images Plus

extractive tourism noun [U]
UK /ɪkˈstræk.tɪv.ˈtʊə.rɪ.zᵊm/ US /ɪkˈstræk.tɪv.ˈtʊr.ɪ.zᵊm/
the situation when too many people visit a place on holiday, so that life is made difficult or impossible for the people who live there

“Extractive tourism” – a term first coined by academic Vijay Kolinjivadi – goes beyond the basic interpretation of overtourism as a congestion caused by travellers flocking to tourism hotspots while balancing out the economic benefits. The new phrase better encompasses the destructive impact of mass tourism on local communities as well.
[, 24 February 2021]

air curtain noun [C, usually pl]
UK /ˈeə.ˌkɜː.tᵊn/ US /ˈer.ˌkɝː.t̬ᵊn/
a flow of air that stays around a single aeroplane passenger and helps to prevent viruses from spreading to other people on the plane

New technology on planes could create “air curtains” around passengers to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19. Design and innovation firm Teague says its AirShield can clip over the dials of the air conditioning units above seats to “adapt aircraft cabin airflow to prevent the spread of viruses”. It claims to keep coughs and sneezes within the confines of a single passenger before removing them via the plane’s air filtration system.
[, 17 June 2020]

spread booking noun [U]
the practice of booking several holidays to different places, with the intention of cancelling all but one of them before the date of travel

Can’t bear the idea of your holiday being cancelled again? The answer may be “spread booking”, the new way of managing “lockdown risk” by keeping fingers in multiple holiday pies. With the roadmap released, and companies offering competitive flexible bookings, holidaymakers have suddenly discovered the art of hedging their bets on not one holiday, but two or even three.
[, 28 February 2021]

About new words

Home improvements: the language of making and repairing things in your home

by Liz Walter

Su Arslanoglu/E+/Getty Images

Apparently, a lot of people who are either in lockdown or working from home because of the pandemic are using their extra time to do jobs in the home, so this post offers some words and phrases to talk about these tasks.

Continue reading “Home improvements: the language of making and repairing things in your home”

New words – 5 April 2021

Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty

Regenuary noun [U]
UK /rɪˈdʒen.ju.ə.ri/ US /rɪˈdʒ
a movement organized in the month of January that encourages people to eat food that is seasonal, local and produced using regenerative farming techniques (= ways of farming land that aims to reverse the effects of climate change)

Over a quarter of a million people are taking part in this year’s Veganuary – the campaign encouraging participants to try veganism for the 31 days of January. But a new movement called “Regenuary” is urging conscientious consumers to consider a different approach to eco-friendly eating.
[, 13 January 2021]

eco-aisle noun [C]
UK /ˈiː.kəʊ.aɪl/ US /ˈiː.koʊ.aɪl/
an aisle in a supermarket for food products that have been produced and packaged in a way that causes minimal harm to the environment

“We’ll see the beginning of the eco-aisle, where there’ll be dedicated space for products that reach a certain environmental criterion,” forecasts Morten Toft Bech, founder of Meatless Farm.
[, 15 January 2021]

community fridge noun [C]
UK /kəˈmjuː.nə.ti.frɪdʒ/ US /kəˈmjuː.nə.t̬i.frɪdʒ/
a fridge, located in a public space, that is filled with donated food so that people who cannot afford to buy food can take what they need

There is a school in my Manhattan neighbourhood that has been giving out free meals during the pandemic – and every time I walk past it the line seems longer. A community fridge recently popped up a couple of blocks away; it’s one of many that activists have installed across the city to combat growing food insecurity.
[, 11 August 2021]

About new words