a trowel used to dig up gold coins from a hole in the ground

Digging up and getting wind of information (Finding information words and phrases)

a trowel used to dig up gold coins from a hole in the ground
undefined undefined/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

I recently published a post on this blog about the language of looking for information (Probing and digging around). This related post looks at words and phrases that we use to talk about finding and getting information. Continue reading “Digging up and getting wind of information (Finding information words and phrases)”

small knitted models of hot air balloons hanging from a tree

New words – 27 June 2022

small knitted models of hot air balloons hanging from a tree
Topsynette / iStock / Getty Images Plus

kniffiti noun [U]
UK /nəˈfiː.ti/ US /nəˈfiː.t̬i/
knitted or sometimes crocheted items that are left in public places as decoration

A new generation of guerrilla knitters are sweeping Britain, “yarnbombing” lampposts, postboxes and fences. Those in Generation Z, roughly aged 15 to 24, are getting behind the trend, which is also known as kniffiti, where a person crochets or knits something and attaches it to public property. Young Britons are “doing kniffiti in a big way”, according to Emma Leith, who runs knitting classes across the UK.
[thetimes.co.uk, 16 April 2022]

coastal grandmother noun [U]
UK /ˌkəʊ.stᵊl ˈgræn.mʌð.əʳ/ US /ˌkoʊ.stᵊl ˈgræn.mʌð.ɚ/
a way of dressing that is inspired by the typical simple, elegant style of rich, older women who live by the sea on the east coast of the United States

Think Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give, Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated, or practically every scene in Grace and Frankie. These women have aspirational lives filled with farmers markets, glasses of white wine on the veranda, relaxing walks along the beach with the wind flowing through your linen shirt. This very specific look and feel has a name. The ‘coastal grandmother’.
[metro.co.uk, 4 April 2022]

hural noun [C]
UK /ˈhjʊə.rəl/ US /ˈhjʊr.ᵊl/
wallpaper on one wall of a room that features one large photo or picture

Forget Gwyneth’s 3D wallpaper, the bespoke mural is the ultimate in living room one-upmanship. Popularity of the home mural, aka the hural, has surged, with searches for “wall mural wallpapers” increasing by 132 per cent and “living room murals” by 48 per cent, according to Homes & Gardens magazine.
[Sunday Times, 1 May 2022]

About new words

a black dog digging a hole on a sandy beach

Probing and digging around (Searching for information)

a black dog digging a hole on a sandy beach
STasker/DigitalVision/GetttyImages

by Kate Woodford

I recently heard someone say that they had left no stone unturned in their search for information, meaning that they had done everything they possibly could to find it. I started thinking about the concept of trying to find out facts and the various words and phrases that we use to convey it. This post is the result of these musings. Continue reading “Probing and digging around (Searching for information)”

a pair of glasses next to a pile of old books

New words – 20 June 2022

a pair of glasses next to a pile of old books
powerofforever / iStock / Getty Images Plus

dark academia noun [U]
UK /ˌdɑːk æk.əˈdiː.mi.ə/ US /ˌdɑːrk æk.əˈdiː.mi.ə/
a style, especially of dressing, that is inspired by old universities and the people who study and teach there

Well, dark academia is about idealising the experience of learning – think libraries full of cloth-bound books, lush (and perfectly groomed) quadrangles, wire-rimmed spectacles, polished loafers and chalk cursive on blackboards … Dark academia’s ‘foundational text’ is Donna Tartt’s The Secret History – a gothic-style campus drama set in Vermont, it tells the story of an elite classics class.
[graziadaily.co.uk, 13 September 2021]

dark store noun [C]
UK /ˌdɑːk ˈstɔːʳ/ US /ˌdɑːrk ˈstɔːr/
a large shop that is not open to the public but is used to process online orders

Dark stores … look a lot like supermarkets and convenience stores, minus the trolleys and front-of-house customers … “We’ll likely see underperforming convenience outlets change to dedicated dark stores. The margins are similar, but it takes fewer people to operate a dark store than a retail store”.
[thegrocer.co.uk, 28 March 2022]

dark post noun [C]
UK /ˌdɑːk ˈpəʊst/ US /ˌdɑːrk ˈpoʊst/
a message or advertisement on a website or social media platform that cannot be seen by everyone, only by the people who are the intended target

Dark posts were first introduced when targeting capabilities on platforms like Facebook were still in their rudimentary stages … Brands and publishers used these dark posts to create a post that did not live permanently on their pages. Instead, the post would be specifically targeted to a select few members of their target audience or following. In other words, it was a kind of marketing strategy.
[billo.app, 28 October 2021]

About new words

A little boy having fun swinging on a whale toy at the playground

A whale of a time: talking about enjoying yourself

A little boy having fun swinging on a whale toy at the playground
marcduf/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

I thought it would be nice to talk about something cheerful today, so this post is about having fun! Continue reading “A whale of a time: talking about enjoying yourself”

a scientist working in a laboratory

New words – 13 June 2022

a scientist working in a laboratory
Andrew Brookes / Image Source / Getty

flu hunter noun [C]
UK /ˈfluː ˌhʌn.təʳ/ US /ˈfluː ˌhʌn.t̬ɚ/
a scientist who looks for new strains of flu so that an effective vaccine can be developed

Last month, a small group of international scientists met to decide an issue critical to the health of millions of people all over the planet. For once, it wasn’t about coronavirus, although these experts know a lot about that, too … It’s an adversary potentially as much of a threat as Covid. These scientists are the flu hunters – heads of a handful of international institutions who track this old foe as it evolves and disperses in its own fight for survival.
[theguardian.com, 19 March 2022]

treat brain noun [U]
/ˈtriːt ˌbreɪn/
a state of mind where someone constantly wants to buy things because doing so makes them feel good

“Treat brain” is a very real phenomenon … Providing our frazzled minds with distractions was another factor involved in the rise of treat brain. The hit of dopamine from buying something new helped divert our attentions from surging death tolls and shoddy government decisions.
[stylist.co.uk, 10 March 2022]

posture pandemic noun [C]
UK /ˌpɒs.tʃə pænˈdem.ɪk/ US /ˌpɒs.tʃər pænˈdem.ɪk/
the situation where a very large number of people have pain in the shoulders or back, thought to be caused by working at a computer or bending down to look at the screen of a phone or tablet

Dr Craig Mclean … has seen a rapid increase in clients seeking help for postural issues since the move to working from home was first announced. However, Mclean says that phones are actually the biggest culprit of upper body pain. Indeed, the problem is so pronounced that McClean predicts a “posture pandemic” among the younger generation. Figures from the BCA reveal that 68 per cent of chiropractors have seen an increase in children with issues linked to screen time in the last five years.
[telegraph.co.uk, 15 September 2020]

About new words

a man reading a newspaper

Clearing the air and chopping and changing (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)

a man reading a newspaper
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

The idioms and phrases in today’s post were taken from a selection of national newspapers published on the same day. I write a newspaper idioms post like this every few months in order to provide you with a regular supply of common, contemporary English idioms. Continue reading “Clearing the air and chopping and changing (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)”

a thermometer against a background of flames and a hot landscape

New words – 6 June 2022

a thermometer against a background of flames and a hot landscape
coffeekai / iStock / Getty Images Plus

chief heat officer noun [C]
UK /ˌtʃiːf ˈhiːt ˌɒf.ɪ.səʳ/ US /ˌtʃiːf ˈhiːt ˌɑː.fɪ.sɚ/
someone who has overall responsibility for dealing with the rising temperatures in a city caused by climate change

Miami has one – so does Athens. Now Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, has appointed Africa’s first chief heat officer – a mother on a mission to shield her city and her kids from the chaos of climate change … The 34-year-old was appointed this week to combat rising temperatures and come up with everyday ways to cool the sweltering streets of the city she has always called home.
[climatechampions.unfccc.int, 9 November 2021]

carbon insetting noun [U]
UK /ˌkɑː.bən ˈɪn.set.ɪŋ/ US /ˌkɑːr.bən ˈɪn.set̬ɪŋ/
the activity of making changes within a company to reduce the damage its activities cause to the environment

Many of us already know that carbon offsetting means investing in carbon reduction or sequestration projects in order to compensate for your own emissions. Carbon insetting is a similar idea, but the crucial difference is that the offsetting happens in an area over which your organisation has some control. For example, while traditional offsetting might involve choosing a renewables project to invest in, carbon insetting might involve setting up your own renewables project on site.
[secrhub.co.uk, 15 July 2020]

eco-city noun [C]
UK /ˈiː.kəʊˌsɪt.i/ US /ˈiː.koʊˌsɪt̬.i/
a city that has been designed to minimize the impact it has on climate change and the environment

Now, Medellin wants to reinvent itself again – this time as Latin America’s first “eco-city” with wide-ranging initiatives in renewable energy, transportation, housing, water management and waste. ​​As governments and investors around the world direct funds towards pandemic recovery efforts, cities like Medellin are taking the opportunity to simultaneously set a climate-friendly agenda for years to come.
[aljazeera.com, 31 August 2021]

About new words

A woman in profile exhaling. The vapour of her breath is visible in the cold air.

Inhaling, gasping and panting: words to describe breathing

A woman in profile exhaling. The vapour of her breath is visible in the cold air.
olaser/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

Today’s post is about language around the activity of breathing – something we usually do without thinking about it unless we have a medical problem or are deliberately doing breathing exercises, for example during yoga practice. Continue reading “Inhaling, gasping and panting: words to describe breathing”

the empty cabin of a passenger aeroplane

New words – 30 May 2022

the empty cabin of a passenger aeroplane
Rob Melnychuk / DigitalVision / Getty

ghost flight noun [C]
UK /’gəʊst ˌflaɪt/ US /’goʊst ˌflaɪt/
a commercial aeroplane that flies to its destination with very few or no passengers, because of a law that means the airline will otherwise lose the right to land at and take off from that airport

Ghost flights have been criticized by climate campaigners since the landing spot rules were put in place, but the issue came to light when it was uncovered 15,000 ghost flights left the U.K. from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 to September 2021.
[cbsnews.com, 17 April 2022]

vertiport noun [C]
UK /ˈvɜː.tɪ.pɔːt/ US /ˈvɝː.t̬ə.pɔːt/
a place where an aircraft such as a drone or a helicopter can take off and land vertically

What do you call an airport for flying taxis? A vertiport. And this week, we took a step closer to the option of catching a flying taxi. UK company Urban-Air Port opened the world’s first vertiport this week in a partnership with the Supernal, the Urban Air Mobility division of Hyundai.
[thenextweb.com, 29 April 2022]

eVTOL noun [U]
UK /ˌiːˈviː.tɒl/ US /ˌiːˈviː.tɑːl/
abbreviation for electric vertical take-off and landing: a system in which an electric aircraft can take off and land vertically, or an aircraft that uses this system

f you’ve ever had the fantasy of soaring over bumper-to-bumper traffic in a flying vehicle, that may be possible sooner than you think. Not with a flying car, but with a battery-powered aircraft called an eVTOL … Dozens of companies are spending billions of dollars to make eVTOLs that will operate like air taxis.
[cbsnews.com, 17 April 2022]

About new words