April fool – the language of jokes and tricks

by Liz Walter

antonioiacobelli/RooM/Getty

April 1st is known in many Western countries as ‘April Fool’s Day’. The idea is to trick other people, to try to make them believe things that are not true. If you succeed, you shout ‘April fool!’ at the person you have tricked. In honour of April Fool’s Day, this post will look at some words and phrases connected with this custom.

One important thing is to remember that we play tricks on someone (we don’t ‘make’ or ‘do’ them). The tricks are often practical jokes (using actions instead of words), and they are almost always harmless – they are intended to be fun. Other words for this kind of trick are prank or hoax, although the word ‘hoax’ can also be used for more serious, unpleasant tricks in the same way as the words fraud or deceit. Continue reading “April fool – the language of jokes and tricks”

New words – 27 March 2017

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beditate verb [I] /ˈbed.ɪ.teɪt/
to meditate in bed

Beditating on waking allows the fight-or-flight response to calm down, thus widening the perceptual field. It’s a kind of turbo rest, and one that you’re not going to get by reaching for your phone, drinking coffee or alcohol, watching television, or even reading.
[The Sunday Times, 08 January 2017]

heli-yoga noun [U] UK /ˈhel.ɪ.jəʊ.gə/ US ˈhel.ə.joʊ.gə
the activity of taking a helicopter to an isolated outdoor location and doing a yoga session there

Sin City is the jumping-off point for heli-yoga, the zen practise [sic] of taking a helicopter flight to an Insta-worthy location, to unfurl your yoga mat and knock out a few sun salutations.
[Telegraph, 26 November 2016]

lagom noun [U] UK /lɑ:ˈgɒm/ US /lɑ:ˈgɑ:m/
a Swedish word meaning ‘just enough’, especially when relating to one’s lifestyle

There’s a new Scandi buzzword in town and its name is lagom – living in moderation, sustainably and heeding the importance of ‘just enough’ … While we’re not ready to give up our hygge-tastic faux fur throw just yet we also like the sound of some lagom-style equilibrium in our lives.
[Metro, 12 January 2017]

About new words

What a nightmare! (Words for difficult situations)

by Kate Woodford

craftivision/E+/Getty

Whether we like it or not, we all have to deal with things that annoy us or cause difficulties and stress. Sadly, it is part of life. This post won’t stop you from having to deal with these things, but it will at least give you a range of words and phrases for talking about them in English!

Let’s start with some single words that refer to different types of problem. A predicament is a bad situation that is difficult to get out of: She’s trying to find a way out of her financial predicament.

A dilemma is a situation in which you have to make a difficult choice between two different things: Now he has been offered the other job, which puts him in a bit of a dilemma. Continue reading “What a nightmare! (Words for difficult situations)”

New words – 20 March 2017

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cruffin noun [C] /ˈkrʌf.ɪn/
a kind of small cake that is shaped like a muffin but made of pastry layers like a croissant

The cruffin is a droolworthy hybrid rolled in sugar and filled with everything from coffee crème to passion-fruit curd.
[www.popsugar.com 14 October 2016]

piecaken noun [C/U] /paɪ.’keɪk.ən/
a pie baked inside a cake

When you just can’t choose between serving a pie or cake, satisfy your cravings for both with a piecaken! Whip up your favorite cake batter and throw in a pre-baked pie, and you’ll feel like a confectionery wizard in no time. 
[www.foodnetwork.ca 15 September 2016]

poke noun [U] UK /pəʊ.’keɪ/ US /poʊ.’keɪ/
a salad made with raw fish

If you live in any major U.S. city, you’ve probably caught wind of the nation’s new favorite food — the poke bowl. While it may seem like a new trend, this simple and addictive Hawaiian dish has been around for centuries.
[www.huffingtonpost.com 25 May 2016]

About new words

Phrasal verbs with more than one meaning

by Liz Walter

Michael Sutton/EyeEm/Getty

Phrasal verbs are often difficult to learn because they tend to be formed from fairly common verbs and particles. To make matters worse, many of them have more than one meaning, and some have many, many meanings – pick up has 24 senses in the Cambridge Phrasal Verbs Dictionary!

Look at these sentences with go out, for example:

Did you go out last night? (leave your home for a social activity)

The fire’s gone out. (stopped burning)

The tide will go out at around 6 today. (go away from the shore) Continue reading “Phrasal verbs with more than one meaning”

New words – 13 March 2017

Daniel Ingold/Cultura/Getty

immersive hybrid reality noun [U]
UK /ɪˈmɜː.sɪv ˌhaɪ.brɪd riˈæl.ə.ti/ US /ɪˈmɝː.sɪv ˌhaɪ.brɪd riˈæl.ə.t̬i/
a set of images and sounds, produced by a computer, that seem to represent a workplace environment

Experts in construction and computer technology at Heriot-Watt University have developed a ground-breaking immersive hybrid reality (iHR) system which aims to take the danger out of extreme working conditions. 
[www.designingbuildings.co.uk 24 October 2016]

microlattice noun [U] UK /ˈmaɪ.krəʊ.læt.ɪs/ US /ˈmaɪ.kroʊ.læt̬.ɪs/
a very light, thin structure made from strips of metal that cross over each other with spaces in between

A metal microlattice developed by Boeing and HRL Laboratories has just been awarded the Guinness World Record for lightest metal. 
[www.archdaily.com 09 November 2016]

VEST noun [C] /vest/
abbreviation for Versatile Extra Sensory Transducer: a garment that transmits data and enables the wearer to receive it through their sense of touch

Imagine if you couldn’t hear with your ears but could through your skin. Well, Dr Scott Novich and Dr David Eagleman of NeoSensory set out to achieve just that and their Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer (VEST) is bringing hearing to deaf people .
[www.redbull.com 14 November 2016]

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I feel so bad! (The language of feeling guilty)

by Kate Woodford

Diane Caudill/EyeEm/Getty
Diane Caudill/EyeEm/Getty

From time to time, we all do things that upset other people and we regret it. In other words, we all suffer from guilt.

Guilt is, of course, a bad feeling and one of the ways that we try to get it out of our system (= get rid of it) is to tell others about what we have done and how bad we feel. This week we’re looking at the words and phrases that we use to talk about feeling guilty.

One of the most common ways to describe feeling guilty is the simple phrase to feel bad:

I felt bad because I knew I’d let them down.

Knowing how much I hurt her makes me feel really bad. Continue reading “I feel so bad! (The language of feeling guilty)”

New words – 6 March 2017

PeopleImages/DigitalVision/Getty
PeopleImages/DigitalVision/Getty

ambient wellness noun [U] /ˌæm.bi.ənt ˈwel.nəs/
a state of improved health deliberately created by a company’s products and processes

Rising numbers will now expect brands to embed innovative health-boosting technologies into the environment around them. These ambient wellness initiatives should help offset damage to health and wellness – or even produce entirely new, health-positive effects (often with zero effort required).
[www.trendwatching.com April 2016]

clean sleeping noun [U] /ˌkliːn ˈsliː.pɪŋ/
the practice of getting enough good quality sleep in order to improve or maintain one’s health

The lifestyle I lead is based not just on clean eating, but also on clean sleeping: at least seven or eight hours of good quality sleep — and ideally even ten. 
[www.dailymail.co.uk 18.12.2016]

sage-smudge verb [T] /ˈseɪdʒ ˌsmʌdʒ/
to burn sage in a room in order to purify it and remove negative energy

When … Gabrielle Savoie first spotted sage bundles in Jenni Kayne’s chic Southampton, New York, store, it immediately piqued her interest. “Maybe it was when my friend—who works for a renowned high-end interior designer—told me they sage-smudged their clients’ homes after each install,” she wrote. 
[www.dailymail.co.uk 18.12.2016]

About new words

All, both, and everyone: How to use pronouns (2)

by Liz Walter

Judit Grosz/EyeEm/Getty
Judit Grosz/EyeEm/Getty

In my last post I looked mainly at personal pronouns such as he, them and yours. This post looks at some other common pronouns and at errors that students often make with them.

I’ll begin with the set most closely related to those we looked at last time – the reflexive pronouns myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves. These are used when the person or thing affected by the action is the same person or thing that is doing the action.

I bought myself a new phone.

Clara looked at herself in the mirror. Continue reading “All, both, and everyone: How to use pronouns (2)”

New words – 27 February 2017

bubaone/DigitalVision/Getty
bubaone/DigitalVision/Getty

conversational commerce noun [U]
UK /kɒn.vəˌseɪ.ʃən.əl ˈkɒm.ɜːs/ US /kɑːn.vɚˌseɪ.ʃən.əl ˈkɑː.mɝːs/
direct conversations between people and companies or services using technology such as apps

Echo is part of the new wave of conversational commerce technologies, where the use of messaging, digital assistants, chat apps, or question-and-answer dialogue makes it possible for people to simply ask for what they need. 
[www.venturebeat.com 28 July 2016]

the internet of everything noun [S]
UK /ˌɪn.tə.net əv ˈev.ri.θɪŋ/ US /ˌɪn.t̬ɚ.net əv ˈev.ri.θɪŋ/
the interaction between people, data, machines, communications and interactions using a system of linked devices

The internet of everything in both the consumer and B2B market will continue to rise, especially in North America, connecting data, things, processes and people. 
[www.forbes.com 31 August 2016]

Whatsapp diplomacy noun [U]
UK /wɒt.ˈsæp dɪˌpləʊ.mə.si/ US /wɑːtˈsæp dɪˌploʊ.mə.si/
the use of the Whatsapp messaging service in international diplomacy to communicate and build relationships

The rise of WhatsApp diplomacy is transforming the negotiating chamber. There are countless groups of allies and virtual huddles, exchanges over policy statements and fine print, and fair amounts of banter and even emojis.
[The Guardian 04 November 2016]

About new words