Colleagues holding a meeting in a multi-functional office space with glass walls

New words – 25 October 2021

Colleagues holding a meeting in a multi-functional office space with glass walls
Kelvin Murray / Stone / Getty

pivot space noun [C]
/ˈpɪv.ət.speɪs/
an area of an office that can be used for different purposes

Pivot spaces – or multi-functional areas of the office – are not new, but social distancing measures and a focus on improving the employee experience in the office are making them a key feature of tomorrow’s workplace … With employees now returning to the office and coronavirus still a lingering threat, more businesses are thinking about how to best adapt their spaces. Designed well, these pivot spaces can help to make the office somewhere people want to be.
[www.workdesign.com, September 2020]

ask gap noun [S]
UK /ˈɑːsk.gæp/ US /ˈæsk.gæp/
the difference in the salary earned by people who ask for (and receive) a higher amount and those who do not

Research shows that the pay gap, which is well documented, partly stems from the ‘ask gap’: the difference in salary expectations between groups, which undercuts women and minorities in particular. Closing this gendered and racialised ‘ask gap’ can pay major dividends for careers, reducing long-term salary inequality.
[bbc.com, 18 June 2021]

polywork noun [U]
UK /ˈpɒl.i.wɜːk/ US /ˈpɑː.li.wɝːk/
the activity of having several different jobs at the same time

Slightly different than a necessary hustle but still falling into these new lifestyles of Millennials and Gen Z is the concept of polywork: the rejection of traditional full-time jobs in favor of pursuing multiple jobs to fulfill multiple interests. Someone might work as a social media marketer while also being an investor, a writer, and a podcast host; they might also run a nonprofit, manage investments and field more creative roles such as producing plays.
[fierceelectronics.com, 6 August 2021]

About new words

The canopy of a banyan tree seen from below, with the sun shining through the leaves.

Root and branch (Idioms with nature words, Part 3)

The canopy of a banyan tree seen from below, with the sun shining through the leaves.
Matt Anderson Photography/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Today, in the third and final post of our nature idioms series, we look at idioms that feature the words tree, bush and hedge and also words for parts of these things, such as root and branch. Continue reading “Root and branch (Idioms with nature words, Part 3)”

New words – 18 October 2021

Sagitta, Let’s Make your own Style / Moment / Getty

aerohaptics noun [plural or U]
UK /ˌeə.rəʊ.ˈhæp.tɪks/ US /ˌer.oʊ.ˈhæp.tɪks/
feelings of physical touch produced by using puffs of air

My colleagues and I … have now developed a system of holograms of people using “aerohaptics”, creating feelings of touch with jets of air. Those jets of air deliver a sensation of touch on people’s fingers, hands and wrists. In time, this could be developed to allow you to meet a virtual avatar of a colleague on the other side of the world and really feel their handshake.
[theconversation.com, 17 September 2021]

Hycean adjective
/ˈhaɪ.ʃᵊn/
A Hycean planet has hydrogen in its atmosphere and water on its surface, meaning that it could potentially support a form of life that is found on Earth.

The search for life outside our Solar System could be accelerated following the discovery of a new class of habitable exoplanet by University of Cambridge researchers. Dubbed “Hycean planets”, these ocean-covered worlds have hydrogen-rich atmospheres and it is believed they could support microbial life similar to that found in some of Earth’s most extreme aquatic environments … Bizarrely, such planets also include tidally-locked “dark” Hycean worlds that may have habitable conditions only on their permanent night sides.
[cambridgeindependent.co.uk, 2 September 2021]

Dragon man noun [U]
/ˈdræg.ᵊn.mæn/
a nickname given to an early species of human which some scientists now think may be the most closely related species to modern humans

Dragon man’s well-preserved skull is the largest Homo skull on record. An analysis of the cranium revealed that Dragon man might be the closest-known related species to Homo sapiens, even closer than Neanderthals, who were long thought to be our closest relation, the study found.
[livescience.com, 25 June 2021]

About new words

The day before yesterday: using time expressions

MicroStockHub/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

We all need to talk about when things happened or when things will happen. There are lots of ways of doing this and learners often make mistakes with some of the most basic ones. Continue reading “The day before yesterday: using time expressions”

New words – 11 October 2021

yacobchuk / iStock / Getty Images Plus

panic master’s noun [C]
UK /ˌpæn.ɪk.ˈmɑː.stəz/ US /ˌpæn.ɪk.ˈmæs.tɚz/
a postgraduate degree that someone studies for because they cannot find a job after completing their first degree, rather than because they want to continue their studies

Record numbers of students are expected to apply for “panic master’s” degrees as a flat jobs market for graduates pushes them towards postgraduate study. Last year 18 per cent of students secured jobs after graduation compared with about 60 per cent in a normal year … It has exacerbated the phenomenon of the “panic master’s”, when students sign up for a second degree not because they necessarily wish to pursue further study but so that they are not left unemployed.
[thetimes.co.uk, 30 July 2021]

nanolearning noun [U]
UK /ˈnæn.əʊ.lɜː.nɪŋ/ US /ˈnæn.oʊ.lɝː.nɪŋ/
a way of learning that involves reading or watching very small pieces of information or other content, usually on the internet

Nanolearning is learning that takes a minute or two — or even less. It is a way to deliver condensed information in an engaging format. It provides a few soundbites or sentences of valuable and relevant content. Viewers learn the immediate requirement for training — right now and in the moment of need — to solve a specific problem, such as creating a pivot table in Microsoft Excel.
[studyinternational.com, 18 May 2021]

cradle-to-career adjective
UK /ˌkreɪ.dᵊl.tə.kəˈrɪᵊr/ US /ˌkreɪ.dᵊl.tə.kəˈrɪr/
A cradle-to-career school or education is one that supports the pupil from when they are born through to young adulthood and offers different activities at different stages of the pupil’s life.

Cradle-to-career school designs are the latest in a long line of attempts to coordinate schools with other local services, in order to tackle the causes of social and educational inequality … Schools cannot address inequality on their own, but neighbourhoods often lack local, coordinated support systems. Cradle-to-career school designs are a bold attempt to go beyond a school’s typical role. They join up local services to improve prospects for young people and their communities.
[theconversation.com, 2 December 2020]

About new words

girl reading a book lying on the grass

Gratitude and me-time (words around staying positive)

Close Up Of Handwritten Gratitude Text With Notebook, Pen, Cup Of Tea, Flowers And Oil Burner
Natalie Board/EyeEm/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Today we’re looking at language around being positive and relaxed, and the things we do in order to stay that way. Continue reading “Gratitude and me-time (words around staying positive)”

New words – 4 October 2021

7713Photography / iStock / GettyImagesPlus

finfluencer noun [C]
UK /ˈfɪn.flu.ən.səʳ/ US /ˈfɪn.flu.ən.sɚ/
someone who attracts followers on social media through giving financial advice

Becoming a finfluencer can be highly lucrative. On TikTok the hashtag #FinTok has been viewed more than 340 million times … But as lucrative as this trend may be for those who make it to the top of the finfluencer money tree, the gains for followers are far less certain. It is the wild west for financial information, with few of the checks and balances that regulate other areas of financial advice.
[theconversation.com, 25 May 2021]

soonicorn noun [C]
UK /ˈsuː.nɪ.kɔːn/ US /ˈsuː.nɪ.kɔːrn/
a startup that is likely to become a unicorn (a business valued at over $1 billion) in the near future

In 2020, the local tech startups that made it to the soonicorn list were iflix, Carsome, and Fave … At the time this list was created in March 2020, iflix was supposedly the most promising soonicorn, as it had a disclosed funding of US$350 million, followed by Carsome with US$86 million, and Fave with US$32 million. There were over 2.7k tech startups and over 40 public ones.
[vulcanpost.com, 3 May 2021]

cyber mercenary noun [C]
UK /ˈsaɪ.bə.mɜː.sᵊn.ri/ US /ˈsaɪ.bɚ.mɝː.sᵊn.ri/
someone who is paid by an organization to use the internet to illegally enter a computer system without permission, for example in order to get secret information or to damage the system

Generally, mercenaries provide support for military operations – most often in the form of defensive security, training for national forces, and technical support. The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries has identified cyber mercenaries as one category of actors that can generate mercenary-related activities. This entails a wide range of military and security services provided in cyberspace, including data collection and espionage.
[hscrentre.org, 15 May 2021]

About new words

Green shoots and fertile ground (Idioms with nature words, part 2)

sarayut Thaneerat/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Part 1 of this ‘nature idioms’ post looked at flower idioms. Today, we’re lowering our gaze to the ground and looking at idioms that feature mud and grass. We’ll start, appropriately enough, with phrases that include the word ‘seed’, (= the tiny thing from which a plant grows). Continue reading “Green shoots and fertile ground (Idioms with nature words, part 2)”

New words – 27 September 2021

Onkamon Buasorn / iStock / Getty Images Plus

moon water noun [U]
UK /ˈmuːn.wɔː.təʳ/ US /ˈmuːn.wɑː.t̬ɚ/
water that has been left in a container outside under the light of the Moon, thought by some people to absorb energy from the Moon and have health benefits when used later

As you might expect from the name, moon water is simply water that has been energetically charged by moonlight … According to Paolo, different phase of the lunar cycle are best for different purposes. “You will need to decide the lunar phase in which you are going to make your moon water, as each phase serves a different purpose,” he says.
[glamourmagazine.co.uk, 1 August 2021]

sea snot noun [U]
UK /ˈsiː.snɒt/ US /ˈsiː.snɑːt/
a thick, sticky substance found in the sea, made up of small organisms and thought to be partly caused or made worse by climate change

A thick layer of organic matter known as marine mucilage has spread in the Sea of Marmara, covering harbours, shorelines and swathes of the surface south of Istanbul. Some of the “sea snot” has sunk below the waves, suffocating seabed life … Turkey has vowed to save the Sea of Marmara by launching a disaster management programme meant to clean up the sea snot.
[theguardian.com, 9 June 2021]

fire cloud noun [C]
UK /ˈfaɪə.klaʊd/ US /ˈfaɪr.klaʊd/
a type of cloud that develops in very hot, dry conditions from a large amount of smoke that rises into the air from a fire on the ground

Severe wildfires that engulfed parts of western Canada this week were so intense that they generated massive “fire clouds” that spawned their own lightning storms. In what some experts said was one of the most extreme events they’ve ever witnessed, more than 700,000 intracloud and cloud-to-ground flashes of lightning — from both fire clouds and regular thunderstorms — were recorded Wednesday over a 15-hour period.
[nbcnews.com, 2 July 2021]

About new words

I wouldn’t trust them an inch: talking about people you don’t trust

Seamind Panadda/EyeEm/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

In my last post, I presented some words and phrases to describe people who are loyal and who you can trust. Today’s post deals with the opposite. Continue reading “I wouldn’t trust them an inch: talking about people you don’t trust”