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

‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’ (Idioms with weather words, Part 2)

Silentfoto/Moment/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

This is the second of three blog posts on idioms that contain words relating to the weather. Previously, we focused on idioms with stormy words. Today, we’re looking at idioms containing a wider range of weather – sun, rain and clouds. Continue reading “‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’ (Idioms with weather words, Part 2)”

New words – 29 March 2021

Anton Eyn / Eye Em / Getty

clean caviar noun [U]
UK /ˌkliːn.ˈkæv.i.ɑːʳ/ US /ˌkliːn.ˈkæv.i.ɑːr/
a type of caviar (= fish eggs eaten as food) that is made in a laboratory using cells from fish

However, the most ground-breaking product at Caviar Biotec is “clean caviar”, which is being grown from sturgeon cells. Mr Benning explained: “We will be producing it without the use of the fish. Then we will basically grow the whole egg in a lab in a bioreactor.”
[, 20 March 2021]

dunchfast noun [C or U]
a meal eaten once a day that combines breakfast, lunch and dinner

Meanwhile, the move towards home working is making mealtimes yet more fluid. “With the kitchen next to the desk, food is easy pickings – meaning many will wait until mid-morning to have breakfast, while having lunch in the evening.” Some are even limiting themselves to one big meal a day – a meal sometimes referred to as “dunchfast”.
[, 22 January 2021]

tornado omelette noun [C]
UK /tɔːˈneɪ.dəʊ.ˈɒm.lət/ US /tɔːˈneɪ.dəʊ.ˈɒm.lət/
a type of omelette made by whisking the eggs with chopsticks as they cook to create a cone shape

Hold onto your hats, folks, there is a new internet egg sensation spinning out of Korea – the tornado omelette. This twisted, cone-shaped omelette is just one of a long line of egg dishes to blow out of Asia and onto our smartphone feeds.
[, 13 January 2021]

About new words

‘Cooking up a storm’ and ‘faces like thunder’ (Idioms with weather words, Part 1)

Sir Francis Canker Photography/Moment/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

It may not surprise you to hear that the weather features in a lot of English idioms. In many of these, the weather words are used metaphorically, in a way that makes the meaning quite obvious. For example, a storm often features in idioms as something negative, referring to a period of trouble, and a cloud is something that spoils a situation. This post will focus on idioms related to storms, of which there are many! Continue reading “‘Cooking up a storm’ and ‘faces like thunder’ (Idioms with weather words, Part 1)”

New words – 22 March 2021

PeopleImages / E+ / Getty

eye yoga noun [U]
UK /ˈaɪ.jəʊ.gə/ US /ˈaɪ.joʊ.gə/
a type of yoga designed to strengthen the muscles around the eyes

If the eyes really are the window to the soul, it makes sense to treat them with the same respect as our bodies. Enter: eye yoga, the new wellness trend on the block, which promises brighter, better rested peepers in under five minutes.
[, 15 January 2021]

stretchologist noun [C]
UK /stretʃ.ˈɒl.ə.dʒɪst/ US /stretʃˈɑː.lə.dʒɪst/
someone who helps you improve your posture and become more flexible by showing you how to stretch properly

Perhaps you have consulted a nutritionist, a personal trainer or a massage therapist, but have you seen a “stretchologist” yet? If not, your tightly coiled muscles may be crying out for the attention of the latest type of fitness guru, one whose niche in an overcrowded market is to guide you towards better posture and greater flexibility.
[, 28 January 2020]

earthing sheet noun [C]
UK /ˈɜːθɪŋ.ʃiːt/ US /ˈɝːθɪŋ.ʃiːt/
a special type of sheet which some people believe enables them to connect with the Earth’s electrical energy while they sleep and thus improve their physical and mental health

What we need for better night-time slumber, we realise courtesy of an advert … is an earthing sheet, thus joining “thousands of people across the UK who are choosing to sleep grounded”. An earthing sheet, we discover by displaying too much curiosity, “uses highly conductive materials such as pure silver and copper combined with innovative Earthing technology to transfer free electrons straight from the Earth to you”.
[, 2 December 2020]

About new words

I feel like my life’s on hold: Language for describing uncertain times.

BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

With many people around the world in some form of lockdown and almost everyone affected by the pandemic in some way, I thought it might be useful to offer some language suitable for talking about living in a climate of uncertainty (a general situation of not knowing what is going to happen). Continue reading “I feel like my life’s on hold: Language for describing uncertain times.”

New words – 15 March 2021

Kubra Cavus / E+ / Getty

computer doping noun [U]
UK /kəmˈpjuː.tə.ˈdəʊ.pɪŋ/ US /kəmˈpjuː.t̬ɚ.ˈdoʊ.pɪŋ/
the act of cheating in a game of chess, backgammon, etc., by using a computer program to find out the best move to make

Fide’s general director, Emil Sutovsky, described it as “a huge topic I work on dozens of hours each week”, and its president, Arkady Dvorkovich, said “computer doping” was a “real plague”. At the heart of the problem are programmes or apps that can rapidly calculate near-perfect moves in any situation.
[, 16 October 2020]

metaverse noun [U]
UK /ˈmet.ə.vɜːs/ US /ˈmet̬.ə.vɝːs/
a shared online space where people, represented by avatars, can take part in many different activities, using virtual reality and augmented reality technology

To picture the metaverse, then, think of a massive virtual realm. One constantly buzzing with activity, where people can go whenever they want, and do whatever they want. They can remotely hang out with friends, create art, consume art, play games and shop. They can visit other realms too, and their identities stay with them as they travel.
[, 21 July 2020]

dragging site noun [C]
an online platform whose members observe the behaviour of someone in the public eye and criticize their actions very severely

During the making of the BBC Radio 4 programme, Me and My Trolls, about dragging site culture, I asked a psychologist and leading expert in cyberstalking to take a look at the site. In just a few hours, she identified incidences of hate speech, harassment and classic behaviours of stalkers and other abusers. And finally, the law may agree with her that dragging sites cross the line.
[, 5 October 2020]

About new words