Don’t count your chickens: proverbs in English (2)

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by Liz Walter

In my last post, I introduced a few proverbs that are common in English, especially in conversations. In this one, I am going to look at some common uses of proverbs: to give warnings, to criticize, and to comfort people. I mentioned last month that some proverbs are so well-known that we often use only the first part. Where this is the case, I will show the part that can be omitted in brackets.

Continue reading “Don’t count your chickens: proverbs in English (2)”

New words – 23 March 2020

Betsie Van der Meer/Stone/Getty Images

smishing noun [U]
/ˈsmɪʃ.ɪŋ/
an attempt to trick someone into giving personal information by text message that would allow someone else to take money from them, for example by taking money out of their bank account

People across the U.S. are receiving text messages that claim to be from FedEx and ask you to set “delivery preferences.” It’s a new example of a growing scam called “smishing”, in which fraudsters send unsolicited messages from well-known companies or reputable sources to try to obtain phone access and personal information from their targets. The scheme is similar to phishing, long a source of scam email, only it’s powered by the short message service, or SMS, technology used in texting.
[cbsnews.com, 24 January 2020]

burglary tourism noun [U]
UK /ˌbɜː.glᵊr.i.ˈtʊə.rɪ.zᵊm/ US /ˌbɝː.glɚ.i.ˈtʊr.ɪ.zᵊm/
the activity of going to another country to burgle someone’s home

Thieves ransacked his home while he and his wife were away in October last year. The gang stole more than £33,000 worth in belongings, including a gold Rolex watch. It’s believed he was the latest target of “burglary tourism” which involves foreign criminals flying to the capital to target luxury homes. The thieves are difficult to track because they are missing from police databases and usually flee the country soon after the raid.
[itv.com/news, 15 January 2020]

climate criminal noun [C]
UK /ˌklaɪ.mət.ˈkrɪm.ɪ.nᵊl/ US /ˌklaɪ.mət.ˈkrɪm.ə.nᵊl/
a person or organization whose actions make the climate emergency worse

Toni Vernelli, the head of communications at the Veganuary campaign, which encourages people to go vegan for the month of January, claimed that coffee chains still charging extra for plant milks were “climate criminals”. She said: “Animal farming is responsible for more than half of all food-related greenhouse gases and cows are the prime cause”.
[The Times, 18 January 2020]

About new words

Vast, spotless and awesome (Extreme adjectives, Part 2)

Tatiana Kolesnikova/Moment/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

Earlier this month, we published a post on extreme adjectives used to describe the weather and emotions. (Extreme adjectives are adjectives that we use when we want to really emphasize a particular quality.)  This week, we’re focusing on adjectives that emphasize a high degree of other qualities, for example, size and age.

Continue reading “Vast, spotless and awesome (Extreme adjectives, Part 2)”

New words – 16 March 2020

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social gifting noun [U]
UK /ˌsəʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈgɪft.ɪŋ/ US /ˌsoʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈgɪft.ɪŋ/
doing a kind act for other people or to benefit the community instead of buying someone a gift

More and more engaged couples are shunning lavish wedding presents in favour of so-called ‘social gifting’. These couples, typically in their early 30s, have no use – or space – for expensive homeware. Instead, they ask their wedding guests to carry out small acts of kindness, such as picking up litter, volunteering at a local charity or helping an elderly neighbour with their groceries.
[www.dailymail.co.uk, 16 February 2019]

impact exercise noun [U]
UK /ˈɪm.pækt.ˌek.sə.saɪz/ US /ˈɪm.pækt.ˌek.sɚ.saɪz/
the activity of combining a sporting challenge such as running a marathon with working on a project that benefits the people who live in the same area

Imagine travelling to Nepal to build a pipe that brings clean running water to a whole village, then topping it off with a high-altitude marathon in the Shivapuri national park in the Himalayas … This is impact exercise: the fitness and travel trend that combines sport and adventure with hands-on charity and community goals.
[Sunday Times, 5 January 2020]

woke capitalism noun [U]
UK /ˌwəʊk.ˈkæp.ɪ.tᵊl.ɪ.zᵊm/ US /ˌwoʊk.ˈkæp.ə.t̬ᵊl.ɪ.zᵊm/
a strategy used by some major businesses in which they become involved in popular social and political issues in order to make more money

Instead of making business woke, we should not let our moral horizons be clouded by sentimental humanitarianism. We must critique woke capitalism clearly and forcibly, remembering that business exists to realize the particular economic ends that constitute its specific common good. 
[www.thepublicdiscourse.com, 16 February 2019]

About new words

Fools rush in: proverbs in English (1)

Izumi T/Moment/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Proverbs may seem rather old-fashioned or strange but when I started thinking about writing this post, I was amazed to realize how many of them are in common use. They serve as a convenient shorthand for something that would often be more complicated to say in a different way. We frequently use them at the end of a conversation to sum up what has been said, and many of them are so familiar that we can omit part of the phrase and still understand what is meant.

Continue reading “Fools rush in: proverbs in English (1)”

New words – 9 March 2020

James Emmerson / robertharding / Getty Images Plus

bronze ceiling noun [C]
UK /ˌbrɒnz.ˈsiː.lɪŋ/ US /ˌbrɑːnz.ˈsiː.lɪŋ/
the fact that there are many fewer statues of women than of men

Three women who were pioneers for women’s rights are about to make history again. They’re becoming the first statues of women in New York’s iconic Central Park. The people behind the project say they’re breaking the “bronze ceiling” by creating the first ever statues of real women for the park.
[wibw.com, 26 November 2019]

Waspi noun [C, U]
UK /ˈwɒspiː/ US /ˈwɑːspiː/
abbreviation for Women Against State Pension Inequality: an organization of women born in the 1950s whose pensions were affected by a government decision to raise the retirement age for women from 60 to 65, or one of the women thus affected

Responding to the Waspi campaign, Labour has unveiled an election pledge to compensate those affected. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the payments were to settle a “historical debt of honour” to the women born in the 1950s.
[thesun.co.uk, 24 November 2019]

tradwife noun [C]
/ˈtræd.waɪf/
a woman who does not work outside the home and who believes that her needs are less important than those of her husband

The tradwives have been keenly giving interviews about how they are the true feminists in choosing not to work, to which anyone with a modicum of knowledge about feminism would say: “We gave women the choice – that’s the point! Bake banana bread until the sun comes up, if it makes you happy!” Whether they are still the true feminists in suggesting that “husbands must always come first if you want a happy marriage”, as Pettitt has tweeted, feels more debatable.
[theguardian.com, 27 January 2020]

About new words

Scorching, furious and delighted! (Extreme adjectives in English, Part 1)

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by Kate Woodford

Are your English adjectives sometimes not strong enough? Perhaps you’re eating something that is so good, the word ‘good’ just isn’t enough. In this case, you might want to describe the food as delicious or even (informal) scrumptious. As you’ll have guessed by now, this post looks at extreme adjectives – that is, adjectives that we use to emphasize a high degree of a particular quality.  Remember that we don’t usually put the adverb very before extreme adjectives. Instead, to add even more emphasis, we might use adverbs such as absolutely, totally and completely. Continue reading “Scorching, furious and delighted! (Extreme adjectives in English, Part 1)”

New words – 2 March 2020

George Pachantouris / Moment / Getty

flower miles noun [plural]
UK /ˈflaʊə.ˌmaɪlz/ US /ˈflaʊ.ɚ.ˌmaɪlz/
the distance between the place where flowers are grown and the place where they are sold to customers

We’re proud to say that our family of independent florists and botanical artisans work with sustainable flower farms worldwide. So whether you’re gifting stems to a loved one across the pond, or sending a feel-good arrangement to yourself, you can order safe in the knowledge that you’re helping cut down on flower miles by championing sustainable practice.
[floom.com, 1 March 2019]

ecological grief noun [U]
UK /ˌiː.kəˈlɒdʒ.ɪ.kᵊl.griːf/ US /ˌiː.kəˈlɑːdʒ.ɪ.kᵊl.griːf/
a feeling of great sadness caused by the effects of the climate emergency

The sense of helplessness is very prevalent – the feeling that the scale of our environmental crisis is so large that as individuals we can’t intervene. And I think that’s actually one of the really powerful mobilising potentials of ecological grief – it’s driving action and anger; climate marches.
[theguardian.com, 12 January 2020]

cli-fi noun [U]
/ˈklaɪ.faɪ/
books, movies etc. about bad events that occur because of climate change, such as wildfires and droughts

“Climate change needs stories, and readers need them to be told,” he said. “There are figures, statistics, but these don’t really say anything. Cli-fi makes people more aware of the situation.”
[phys.org/news, 15 November 2019]

About new words

Quarantine, carriers and face masks: the language of the coronavirus

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by Liz Walter

As Coronavirus (officially called COVID-19) continues to dominate the news, I thought it might be useful to look at some of the language we use to talk about it. Regular readers will know my obsession with collocations (word partners), and there are lots of good ones in this topic, most of which can be applied to other diseases too. Continue reading “Quarantine, carriers and face masks: the language of the coronavirus”

New words – 24 February 2020

Dwight Eschliman / Stone / Getty Images Plus

food desert noun [C]
UK /ˌfuːd ˈdez.ət/ US /ˌfuːd ˈdez.ɚt/
an area where there is little or no access to healthy food

A widely held theory maintains that those who live in food deserts are forced to shop at local convenience stores, where it’s hard to find healthy groceries. A proposed solution is to advocate for the opening of supermarkets in these neighborhoods, which are thought to encourage better eating.
[www.nyu.edu, 10 December 2019]

food insecurity noun [U]
UK /ˈfuːd ˌɪn.sɪˈkjʊə.rə.ti/ US /ˈfuːd ˌɪn.səˈkjʊr.ə.t̬i/
the state of not being able to afford to buy enough food to stay healthy

The government is to introduce an official measure of how often low-income families across the UK skip meals or go hungry because they cannot afford to buy enough food, the Guardian can reveal. A national index of food insecurity is to be incorporated into an established UK-wide annual survey run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that monitors household incomes and living standards.
[www.theguardian.com, 27 February 2019]

social supermarket noun [C]
UK /ˌsəʊ.ʃᵊl ˈsuː.pəˌmɑː.kɪt/ US /ˌsoʊ.ʃᵊl ˈsuː.pɚˌmɑːr.kɪt/
a place where food is sold at very low prices to people who do not have enough money to buy it in other shops

A ‘social supermarket’ has opened offering a week’s worth of shopping for just £3 to Britons who struggle to feed themselves and their families. The food, worth between £15 and £25, is donated and … it helps those struggling financially to put food on their tables, serving so many people that it has been forced to open an extra day.
[mirror.co.uk, 14 January 2019]

About new words