Beating up, ganging up on and putting someone down: phrasal verbs for bad behaviour (2)

Carol Yepes/Moment/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

In an earlier post, I looked at phrasal verbs connected with children’s bad behaviour and with some general adult bad behaviour. In this post, I will cover phrasal verbs connected with bullying, violent and dishonest behaviour.

Continue reading “Beating up, ganging up on and putting someone down: phrasal verbs for bad behaviour (2)”

New words – 3 August 2020

Peter Cade / Stone / Getty

revenge spending noun [U]
/rɪˈvendʒ.ˈspen.dɪŋ/
the activity of shopping more than usual as a reaction to not having been able or allowed to do so for a period of time

The burst of sales has created a new retail term for the post-lockdown rebound: “revenge spending.” The idea is that consumers were shopping starved during their quarantine and are overcompensating by splurging more than usual.
[cnbc.com, 13 May 2020]

social commerce noun [U]
UK /ˌsəʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈkɒm.ɜːs/ US /ˌsoʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈkɑː.mɝːs/
the use of social media websites to buy and sell products and services

The sheer amount of time spent by people, especially younger generations, on social media apps has positioned social commerce as the indisputable market breakout trend for e-commerce in the coming years … One of the primary drivers of the success of social commerce has been the shift of preference by Generation Z and Millennials away from Facebook and towards platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.
[forbes.com, 25 June 2019]

spendemic noun [C]
/spenˈdem.ɪk/
a sudden tendency for people to spend money, usually on unnecessary things

Call it a spendemic. “I’ve bought an area rug, a coffee table, prints for the walls, a mirror and plants,” says Jackson Isaacson, 27, who estimates he’s spent nearly $4,000 since self-isolating due to the novel coronavirus outbreak a month ago.
[nypost.com, 20 April 2020]

About new words

Spotless or squalid? (Words for ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’)

Chakrapong Worathat/EyeEm/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

COVID-19 has made us all very aware of how clean our hands and surfaces are. With cleanliness in mind, we thought it might be a good time to look at the language around being clean and being dirty.

Continue reading “Spotless or squalid? (Words for ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’)”

New words – 27 July 2020

Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty

Generation Alpha noun [U]
/ˌdʒen.əˈreɪ.ʃᵊn.ˈæl.fə/
a way of referring to the group of people who were, or will be, born in the 2010s and 2020s

A picture of Generation Alpha, if a blurry one, is starting to emerge. In various articles about its members, analysts have stated that they are or will grow up to be the best-educated generation ever, the most technologically immersed [and] the wealthiest.
[theatlantic.com, 21 February 2020]

anti-natalism noun [U]
UK /ˌæn.tiˈneɪ.tᵊl.ɪ.zᵊm/ US /ˌæn.tiˈneɪ.t̬ᵊl.ɪ.zᵊm/
the belief that it is morally wrong to have children

More people, millennials specifically, are drawn to a similar idea that suggests that procreation is problematic. It’s called “anti-natalism,” and proponents believe it’s the environmentally friendly and morally ethical thing to do.
[refinery29.com, 14 August 2019]

boomsplain verb
/ˈbuːm.spleɪn/
to give someone an unnecessary or unwanted explanation of something; used when someone of the baby boomer generation explains something to a younger person

Let me boomsplain: All parents are out of touch. Ours were about (hello again) Vietnam, women’s rights and racism (some things never change). Gen Xer Will Smith had a huge hit in 1988 called “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”
[sfchronicle.com, 19 December 2019]

About new words

Staying at home, going home or working from home: using the word ‘home’.

Alexander Spatari/Moment/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Spending several weeks under (partial) lockdown has made me think more deeply about the concept of ‘home’. It’s a word that has a huge amount of implied meaning over and above its main literal meaning of ‘the place where you live’. It is also a very common word that can cause problems for learners because it acts in odd ways with regard to the use of prepositions.

Continue reading “Staying at home, going home or working from home: using the word ‘home’.”

New words – 20 July 2020

Sam Edwards / OJO Images / Getty

hyflex adjective
/ˈhaɪ.fleks/
a way of learning in which lessons are given face to face in classrooms and also made available on the internet

Any in-person activities will be offered in a hybrid/flexible (hyflex) model, meaning that students will have the choice to participate in real-time, either in-person or remotely. These hyflex learning opportunities may take the form of group projects, workshops, or social activities.
[professional.uchicago.edu, 1 July 2020]

STEAM noun [U]
/stiːm/
abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics (as subjects of study)

STEAM is a way to take the benefits of STEM and complete the package by integrating these principles in and through the arts. STEAM takes STEM to the next level: it allows students to connect their learning in these critical areas together with arts practices, elements, design principles, and standards.
[educationcloset.com, 14 January 2020]

Shape noun [U]
/ʃeɪp/
abbreviation for Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy (as subjects of study)

A national fight to restore the balance between rival academic disciplines and give back lost weight to subjects such as history, foreign languages, geography and English literature, will start this week with the unveiling of Shape, a “rebranding” drive to promote the humanities and social sciences
[The Observer, 21 June 2020]

About new words

Sparkling and dazzling! (Words related to light, Part 1)

Evgeniy Kirillov/EyeEm/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

I’m often surprised by the number of words and phrases that exist in a particular area of the English language. This was the case when I started to look at the language around light and all the things it does and the various ways it appears. Indeed, there are so many words that this will be a 2-part blog post.

Continue reading “Sparkling and dazzling! (Words related to light, Part 1)”

New words – 13 July 2020

Westend61 / Getty

cottagecore noun [U]
UK /ˈkɒt.ɪdʒ.kɔːr/ US /ˈkɑː.t̬ɪdʒ.kɔːr/
a lifestyle based on traditional rural activities, or a way of dressing that suggests that lifestyle, usually adopted by people who live in cities

Cottagecore activities such as baking, gardening and making your own clothes have all boomed during the pandemic. Now menswear is taking note. Monthly searches for the staples of so-called “grandad style” have increased.
[The Guardian, 4 July 2020]

anti-fit adjective
UK /ˈæn.ti.fɪt/ US /ˈæn.t̬i.fɪt/
Anti-fit clothes are deliberately designed to fit the wearer’s body very loosely

Anti-fit clothing isn’t partywear. So, keep the vibe cool and comfortable even when it comes to shoes or accessories,” says Bollywood costume designer Rick Roy, who has worked with actors like Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor.
[hindustantimes.com, 15 February 2020]

Zoomwear noun [U]
UK /ˈzuːm.weəʳ/ US /ˈzuːm.wer/
a style of dressing that involves wearing clothes suitable for the office above the waist and casual clothing below the waist

Zoom Shirts are really the first and last word in Zoomwear. Zoom Jackets, I quickly discovered from looking around large Zoom calls in the early pandemic weeks, are vestimenta non grata. Zoom Ties look even more ridiculous. Everyone knows you have your laptop set up on the dining room table, with dishes just out of sight.
[New York Times, 29 June 2020]

About new words

Are idioms that use ‘black’ and ‘white’ offensive?

Our blog posts about idioms are some of the most popular ones for our readers. Recently, we’ve posted two about idioms that use names for colours – the first one was Seeing red and green with envy, followed by Black sheep and white lies.

One of our readers commented on the second post: she wondered whether any of the expressions to do with the colours black and white were racist in origin. We replied, “Your instinct to examine the language is a good one, since there are so many words and phrases that have been used in the past which we now see are offensive. It’s also true that the words black and white can simply be used as names for colours, and they are widely used that way in many idioms. We don’t provide word origins on our website, but any words or phrases that are offensive have the label offensive. And we update the website frequently, so as the language changes, we also change the advice we give about using it.”

After that response, some people asked questions about other idioms that may be racist. Because we take very seriously our responsibility to help people use English accurately and effectively, we think it’s important to say more about this topic. You may want to look back at the Black sheep and white lies post because we will mention some of the idioms from that post here.

Continue reading “Are idioms that use ‘black’ and ‘white’ offensive?”

New words – 6 July 2020

Donald Iain Smith / Getty

virtual being noun [C]
UK /ˌvɜː.tʃu.əl.ˈbiː.ɪŋ/ US /ˌvɝː.tʃu.əl.ˈbiː.ɪŋ/
a computer program that takes the physical form of a human being and uses artificial intelligence to behave in a way that mimics a real person

According to Samsung, Neon is a “computationally created virtual being” which acts and looks like a “real human,” with the ability to “show emotions and intelligence.” Okay. Samsung is vehement in a press release that Neon is not a virtual assistant, helper app, or bot, but rather some kind of artificially intelligent digital “being” which can interact with real people in an unrehearsed and spontaneous manner.
[inputmag.com, 6 January 2020]

myco-architecture noun [U]
UK /ˌmaɪ.kəʊ.ˈɑː.kɪ.tek.tʃəʳ/ US /ˌmaɪ.kəʊ.ˈɑːr.kə.tek.tʃɚ/
the art and practice of designing and making buildings out of fungus

NASA researchers are investigating the potential of mycelia – the nutrient-absorbing, underground threads that make up a fungus’s main bulk – to help construct outposts on the moon and Mars … With the right conditions, say the researchers, they can be coaxed into making new structures, ranging from a material similar to leather to the building blocks for a Mars habitat. The NASA researchers call it myco-architecture.
[earthsky.org, 22 January 2020]

Gigabit City noun [C]
UK /ˌgɪg.ə.bɪt.ˈsɪt.i/ US /ˌgɪg.ə.bɪt..ˈsɪt̬.i/
a city that uses fibre optic technology to provide everyone who lives or works there with extremely fast broadband

The Stirling Gigabit City project forms part of CityFibre’s £2.5bn Gigabit City investment programme to bring full fibre to five million homes and businesses by 2025. … Councillor Scott Farmer, Leader of Stirling Council, said: “We are proud Stirling is well on its way to becoming the nation’s first completed Gigabit City project and believe it is the start of a huge digital opportunity for businesses and residents in the area.”
[cityfibre.com, 24 September 2019]

About new words