an elegant bathroom filled with plants

New words – 16 May 2022

an elegant bathroom filled with plants
brizmaker / iStock / Getty Images Plus

plant-flex verb
UK /ˈplɑːnt.fleks/ US /ˈplænt.fleks/
to post pictures on social media of the expensive plants you own in order to show how rich you are

Adapted from 90s US rapper slang, to “plant-flex” is the horticultural version of performatively displaying one’s wealth via the use of status symbols – in this case the status symbol might be something like a variegated monstera. The idea that a humble houseplant can now be equated to a sports car or fat wad of cash might seem surprising, but single leaf nodes of some must-have species now sell for tens of thousands of pounds on online auction sites.
[, 3 April 2022]

proplifting noun [U]
UK /ˈprɒp.lɪf.tɪŋ/ US /ˈprɑːp.lɪf.tɪŋ/
from “propagating” and “shoplifting”: the activity of picking up stems and roots that are lying on the floor of a plant shop, garden centre etc. and taking them home to try to grow them into new plants

Proplifting in its classic form sees devotees collecting cuttings or leaf droppings from the floors of shops or stores and growing them out in their own homes … Granted, it’s a bit of a legal and ethical grey area, but the community of proplifters online is huge and growing. They argue that their love for plants gives otherwise discarded plant babies a second shot at life. Proplifting doesn’t have to take place in shops though. Wandering the streets, you are likely to come across plants that are ripe for a little haircut in public spaces.
[, 8 March 2021]

green laird noun [C]
UK /ˌgriːn ˈleəd/ US /ˌgriːn ˈlerd/
a person or company that buys a large piece of land in Scotland and plants trees on it to compensate for things they do that harm the environment

A land reform campaigner has warned of businesses buying up land in Scotland to offset their carbon emissions rather than reducing what they emit. The so-called “green lairds” have peatland restored or land planted with thousands of trees. But Andy Wightman, a former MSP, said the practice did not go far enough to tackle climate change … Green laird is a term that has been used to describe a business buying thousands of acres of land to plant with trees to help it achieve net zero.
[, 10 December 2021]

About new words

a Bernese Mountain Dog barking

Howling, mewing and snorting (Animal sounds, Part A)

a Bernese Mountain Dog barking
Jill Lehmann Photography/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

A reader of this blog recently requested a post on animal sounds. When I looked into the subject, I was struck by the huge range of very specific words in the English language for the various noises that animals and birds make. Accordingly, this is a post in two parts, A and B. Here, in Part A, we start by considering words for the different noises that dogs make. Continue reading “Howling, mewing and snorting (Animal sounds, Part A)”

a businessman working on a laptop at night

New words – 9 May 2022

a businessman working on a laptop at night
Andy Smith / Image Source / Getty

sleepless elite noun [U]
/ˌsliːp.ləs iˈliːt/
the small percentage of people who need very little sleep

One of the most famous sleep experts in Singapore … doesn’t really buy the idea of the “sleepless elite”, a term coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe a supposed 1 to 3 percent of the world’s population who require less sleep. He says there are stages of sleep that one needs to undergo in order to feel refreshed the next day – and four hours is simply too short for these stages to run their course.
[, 21 March 2020]

time millionaire noun [C]
UK /ˌtaɪm mɪl.jəˈneəʳ/ US /ˌtaɪm mɪl.jəˈner/
someone who places more importance on the amount of free time they have than on how much money they earn

Writer Nilanjana Roy coined the term “time millionaires,” or people that “measure their worth not in terms of financial capital, but according to the seconds, minutes, and hours they claw back from employment for leisure and recreation.” Time millionaires view a job simply as a way to keep a roof over their head and value their time more than tangible wealth.
[, 18 November 2021]

stresslaxation noun [U]
a feeling of stress that you experience when you try to relax

Even though stresslaxation is a new term, it describes relaxation-induced anxiety, which has been studied for years. This is shown to happen to between 30% and 50% of people when they try to do relaxing things, causing symptoms of stress (such as rapid heart beat or sweating). It’s paradoxical, given that people who experience stresslaxation may need to do something relaxing to de-stress.
[, 11 April 2022]

About new words

two older men laughing together in a park

Laid-back, likeable and jovial : talking about people you like and admire (1)

two older men laughing together in a park

by Liz Walter

After three posts on criticizing people’s character flaws, it’s definitely time to balance that with some vocabulary for praising those we admire! Continue reading “Laid-back, likeable and jovial : talking about people you like and admire (1)”

a young man relaxing on a lawn wearing headphones

New words – 2 May 2022

a young man relaxing on a lawn wearing headphones
JohnnyGreig / E+ / Getty

tang ping noun [S]
/ˌtæŋ ˈpɪŋ/
a Chinese term meaning “lie flat” that describes a trend where people reject the pressure to work long hours in a stressful job, and instead adopt a more relaxed lifestyle

Young people in China exhausted by a culture of hard work with seemingly little reward are highlighting the need for a lifestyle change by “lying flat”. The new trend, known as “tang ping”, is described as an antidote to society’s pressures to find jobs and perform well while working long shifts … The idea behind “tang ping” – not overworking, being content with more attainable achievements and allowing time to unwind – has been praised by many.
[, 3 June 2021]

WFC noun [U]
abbreviation for “working from cafés”: the activity of working remotely from a café rather than travelling to an office or working from home

Working from cafés (WFC) is probably also set to become a more prominent part of what we do … WFC is popular in places that have agile workforces and for freelance workers without a permanent office. But any office workers with a laptop have found it useful too. The flexibility of working unmonitored in a pleasant space often gives people the sense of freedom from standard workplace norms, and a connection to the world in which we live.
[, 7 September 2020]

jobfishing noun [U]
UK /ˈdʒɒb.fɪʃ.ɪŋ/ US /ˈdʒɑːb.fɪʃ.ɪŋ/
the illegal practice of recruiting people to work for a company that does not exist in order to trick them into sending their personal information and working without being paid

In jobfishing scams skilled, experienced professionals are taken in by fake companies and asked to pay money or share personal details before starting work. However, the impacts go beyond the financial. “The repercussions are terrible because not only can you lose money, you can have your identity stolen or completely derail your career,” McLean continues … “Jobfishing can take so much of your key information away from you, which can then be used in identity fraud or sold on.”
[, 30 March 2022]

About new words

close-up of a woman's smiling mouth, showing her teeth

Gritting and cutting your teeth (Idioms and phrases with ‘teeth’)

close-up of a woman's smiling mouth, showing her teeth
ultramarinfoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

It might surprise you to learn that the noun ‘teeth’ features in a number of current English idioms. This post is a round-up of the most frequent and useful. Continue reading “Gritting and cutting your teeth (Idioms and phrases with ‘teeth’)”

an open combination padlock resting on top of a mobile phone

New words – 25 April 2022

an open combination padlock resting on top of a mobile phone
boonchai wedmakawand / Moment / Getty

quantum apocalypse noun [S]
UK /ˌkwɒn.təm əˈpɒk.ə.lɪps/ US /ˌkwɑːn.t̬əm əˈpɑː.kə.lɪps/
the situation where extremely powerful computers can access all encrypted data very quickly and easily, making all hidden information public

Current computers would take years, decades and even centuries to crack the encryption codes created by today’s machines, but the fact that a quantum computer could theoretically do this in “just seconds” poses an enormous cybersecurity risk. The notion of all the world’s most encrypted files – from WhatsApp messages to online banking to government data – suddenly being broken into thanks to the advent of quantum computing is known as the “quantum apocalypse”.
[, 1 February 2022]

splinternet noun [S]
UK /ˈsplɪn.tə.net/ US /ˈsplɪn.t̬ɚ.net/
the idea that there is, or could be, different versions of the internet rather than one global version, usually because the governments of some countries have blocked or restricted parts of its content

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is accelerating a technological isolation in Russia that doesn’t inflict the immediate pain of frozen bank accounts or skyrocketing prices, but could fundamentally change the way that Russians get their information and connect — or fail to connect — with the rest of the world. It’s bringing Putin’s Russia many steps closer to a so-called splinternet in which the West and Russia operate in different online spheres.
[, 4 March 2022]

TikTot noun [C]
UK /ˈtɪk.tɒt/ US /ˈtɪk.tɑːt/
a young child who uses the social media platform TikTok

A third of children aged between five and seven have a social media profile despite being under the minimum age requirement, a new study suggests. Analysis from Ofcom shows that TikTok is the most popular platform among the youngest users, who have been nicknamed TikTots. Britain’s communications watchdog found 16% of children in the UK aged three and four are already using the platform.
[, 30 March 2022]

About new words

portrait of an old man frowning angrily

Prickly, abrasive and churlish: talking about people you don’t like (3)

portrait of an old man frowning angrily
John Rensten/The Image Bank/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

This is the final post in a short series about words for people we don’t like. This post will concentrate on describing people who are bad-tempered, rude, or cruel. Continue reading “Prickly, abrasive and churlish: talking about people you don’t like (3)”

a starling perched on a snowy branch

New words – 18 April 2022

a starling perched on a snowy branch
Images from BarbAnna / Moment / Getty

rebirding noun [U]
UK /ˌriːˈbɜːd.ɪŋ/ US /ˌriːˈbɝːd.ɪŋ/
the process of helping to return an environment to its natural state by bringing back birds that used to live there

Swift numbers have declined by 58 per cent since 1995, while house martin populations have similarly suffered … In order to halt the decline, a new call to arms is launching this week urging homeowners across the country to encourage the birds back before it is too late … Forget rewilding, this is hoped to be the beginning of a vital rebirding of the nation’s back gardens.
[, 19 March 2022]

climate doomism noun [U]
UK /ˌklaɪ.mət ˈduːmɪ.zəm/ US /ˌklaɪ.mət ˈduːmɪ.zəm/
the belief that climate change is now irreversible and that there is no point making any effort to stop it getting any worse

[Alaina Wood] is also part of a growing cadre of people, many of them young, who are fighting climate doomism, the notion that it’s too late to turn things around. They believe that focusing solely on terrible climate news can sow dread and paralysis, foster inaction, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the summer of 2021, Ms. Wood … began creating TikTok videos debunking extreme examples of climate doomism — among them that all of humanity will perish within decades.
[, 22 March 2022]

water neutrality noun [U]
UK /ˌwɔː.tə njuːˈtræl.ə.ti/ US /ˌwɑː.t̬ɚ nuːˈtræl.ə.t̬i/
the principle that the total amount of water used in an area after new houses, shops, etc. have been built must not be more than the amount used in the same area previously

The definition of water neutrality is that for every new development, total water use in the region after the development must be equal to or less than the total water use in the region. There are three steps to achieving water neutrality: (1) reducing water use by making the new build as water efficient as possible (2) installing water reuse systems, such as rainwater harvesting or grey water recycling and (3) offsetting any remaining demand in the existing local region.
[, 16 February 2022]

About new words

skyline of city buildings lit up at sunset

A vast, sprawling metropolis (Words for describing cities)

skyline of city buildings lit up at sunset
Gary Yeowell/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

It’s reckoned that around 55% of the world’s population now lives in towns and cities. With this in mind, I thought we’d take a look at the sort of words we use to describe urban and suburban areas. I hope you find it useful. Continue reading “A vast, sprawling metropolis (Words for describing cities)”