New words – 23 April 2018

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zebra noun [U]
UK /ˈzeb.rə/, /ˈziː.brə/ US /ˈziː.brə/
a new company that aims to improve society as well as to make a profit

Aniyia … says she thinks too many investors in Silicon Valley are missing opportunities to be part of profitable, sustainable companies because they’re chasing things that aren’t real – unicorns. Zebras, by contrast, she says, are real. I meet Aniyia … at DazzleCon, the first gathering of the zebras, where founders and investors met in person to discuss business strategies and, if nothing else, to realize they’re not alone.
[, 23 November 2017]

kleptopredation noun [U]
UK /ˌklep.tə.prɪˈdeɪ.ʃᵊn/ US /ˌklep.toʊ.prɪˈdeɪ.ʃᵊn/
the act of eating prey that has just hunted so that the predator eats the prey of its prey too

More likely, kleptopredation serves nutritional needs. This way of catching prey boosts nudibranch intake substantially and is so clever that it seems likely sea slugs aren’t the only kleptopredators, the researchers say. The cunning hunting shown by slugs from Sicily could be happening elsewhere. Certainly, the biologists say, their findings suggest marine food webs are more complex than previously believed.
[, 2 November 2017]

ghost species noun [C]
UK /ˈgəʊst.ˌspiː.ʃiːz/ US /ˈgoʊst.ˌspiː.ʃiːz/
an ancient subspecies of human for which no tangible evidence, such as fossils, exists

“This unknown human relative could be a species that has been discovered, such as a subspecies of Homo erectus, or an undiscovered hominin,” says Gokcumen. “We call it a ‘ghost’ species because we don’t have the fossils.”
[, 24 July 2017]

About new words

A bit long in the tooth: words and phrases for talking about old age

Westend61 / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

The Bible says that most of us will live for ‘three score years and ten’ – in other words, 70 years. Nowadays however, most people consider 70 the beginning of old age. This is probably why although the word sexagenarian (person from 60-69) exists, we rarely use it – being in your sixties is nothing remarkable. However, the slightly formal terms septuagenarian (70-79), octogenarian (80-89), nonagenarian (90-99) and centenarian (100 or over) are used both as adjectives and nouns: The dinner party included several octogenarian men.  She was a nonagenarian when she found fame.

Continue reading “A bit long in the tooth: words and phrases for talking about old age”

New words – 16 April 2018

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maranoia noun [U]
the anxiety experienced by marathon runners before their race, especially the fear that they may become ill or injured and not be able to compete

Maranoia can be all-consuming, but you have just trained for a marathon and you’re in peak physical condition, so you’re strong enough to deal with a few mental setbacks. Now is the time to be resilient and soldier on. You are a runner and you can get through this!
[, no date]

vertical walking noun [U]
UK /ˈvɜː.tɪ.kᵊl ˈwɔː.kɪŋ/ US /ˈvɝː.t̬ə.kᵊl ˈwɑː.kɪŋ/
a method of moving yourself between floors of a building using your arms and legs to propel yourself and with the aid of a system of springs and pulleys

Vertical walking, an experimental prototype by Rombout Frieling Lab designed “to move ourselves between floors in a building,” exploits the potential of the human body, materials and intelligent design to require less than 10% of the effort required by taking a flight of stairs – and without the need for any sort of ancillary power supply. The ultimate aim of the designers is to allow people to “move harmoniously through our vertical habitats of the future.”
[, 24 October 2016]

Bokwa noun [U]
UK /ˈbɒk.wɑː/ US /ˈbɑːk.wɑː/ TRADEMARK
a type of exercise in which you do dance moves and step aerobics, usually in a class with other people

Aditi Pandey, a Belapur resident and mother of a six-year-old, credits Bokwa for her high energy levels. Enrolled for a year in a Bokwa class in the area, Pandey said that it is a very simple dance form and requires no memorisation of steps. “It is a cardio-stimulating activity and involves a little bit of hip-hop and step aerobics. We move according to English letters and jazz it up with shimmies or freestyle moves. There is no involvement of any choreographer or intense training.”
[The Times of India, 4 June 2017]

About new words

Prodding and urging (Getting people to do what you want!)

SvetaZi / iStock / Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

A recent post looked at words and phrases meaning ‘persuade’ but of course, there are other ways to make people do what we want, (and not all of them especially nice!) Let’s take a look, then, at these words and phrases.

You might try to get someone to do something or go somewhere by offering them something attractive or exciting in return. For this we have the verbs entice and lure. Adverts like these may entice the customer into buying things they don’t really want. / They try to lure people into the shop with the offer of free cake.

Continue reading “Prodding and urging (Getting people to do what you want!)”

New words – 9 April 2018

Kathleen Finlay/Image Source/Getty

range anxiety noun [U]
UK /ˈreɪndʒ æŋˈzaɪ.ə.ti/ US /ˈreɪndʒ æŋˈzaɪ.ə.t̬i/
the worry experienced by the driver of an electric car that the vehicle will run out of power before it reaches its destination

There could be no better time to buy an electric car as finally the infrastructure to support these vehicles seems to be catching up. Range anxiety is a dark cloud hanging over electric cars in the minds of customers, but the new investment in charging networks could greatly alleviate this.
[, 7 November 2017]

droneway noun [C]
UK /ˈdrəʊn.weɪ/ US /ˈdroʊn.weɪ/
a long, level piece of ground with a specially prepared smooth, hard surface on which drones take off and land

It sounds like something one might find in California’s “Silicon Valley” rather than on the wild and often windy west coast of Scotland. But the world’s first dedicated “droneway” will see the remotely controlled aircraft cross from the mainland to Stornoway on the island of Lewis. Telecoms experts hope to show that, with the use of established routes, drones can travel safely alongside commercial aircraft.
[, 11 September 2017]

multicopter noun [C]
UK /ˈmʌl.ti.kɒp.təʳ/ US /ˈmʌl.ti.kɑːp.tɚ/
a type of helicopter that has more than one rotor

The Volocopter VC200 made aircraft history as the first certified multicopter to fly with a person onboard. Designed by German company e-volo, this electric aircraft gives people a glimpse into a future where, one day, ubers and taxis travel above street traffic to their next destination.
[, 27 April 2016]

About new words

I love coffee/Would you like a coffee? Words that can be countable and uncountable

PhanuwatNandee / iStock / Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

In my last post I talked about why it is important to know whether words in English are countable or uncountable. However, I didn’t mention the fact that many words can be both countable and uncountable. This post discusses some of the reasons for this.

Continue reading “I love coffee/Would you like a coffee? Words that can be countable and uncountable”

New words – 2 April 2018


distracted walking noun [U]
UK /dɪˈstræk.tɪd ˈwɔː.kɪŋ/ US /dɪˈstræk.tɪd ˈwɑː.kɪŋ/
the minor crime of crossing the road while looking at your mobile phone or similar device and therefore posing a danger to motorists and other pedestrians

As such, the newly tabled private member’s bill at Queen’s Park aimed at curbing so-called “distracted walking” amounts to evidence-blind legislative overreach. The proposed law, which would impose fines of up to $125 for crossing the street while using a cellphone, is itself a distraction from the real causes and solutions to Ontario’s – and, in particular, Toronto’s – growing pedestrian safety problem.
[, 30 October 2017]

smombie noun [C]
UK /ˈsmɒ US /ˈsmɑː
a pedestrian who is distracted by their mobile phone or similar device

Germany also boasts the distinction of installing some of the world’s first traffic lights in the pavement, designed to stop smombies walking out in front of a bus.
[, 29 November 2016]

zombie law noun [C]
UK /ˈzɒ lɔː/ US /ˈzɑː lɑː/
a law that bans people from crossing the road while distracted by their mobile phone or similar device

As Honolulu rolls out the new “zombie law”, other North American cities have been watching carefully. Earlier this year, the Toronto City Council in Canada voted to ask provincial Ontario to amend the existing traffic laws to make distracted walking an offence. However, the province turned the request down, and the city is instead concentrating on public education.
[, 27 October 2017]

About new words

Coaxing, cajoling and roping in (Ways of saying ‘persuade’)

Philip Lee Harvey / Cultura / Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

This week we’re looking at the many near-synonyms in English for the verb persuade.

Let’s start with the verb convince, which is sometimes used to mean ‘to persuade someone to do something’: hope this will convince you to change your mind.

A number of verbs mean specifically ‘to persuade someone to do an activity’, for example the phrasal verbs talk into and (informal) rope in: Finn is refusing to go camping but I think I can talk him into it. / We needed two more people to make up the team so we roped in a couple of spectators.

Continue reading “Coaxing, cajoling and roping in (Ways of saying ‘persuade’)”

New words – 26 March 2018

Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty

STEMinist noun [C]
UK /ˈstem.ɪ.nɪst/ US /ˈstem.ə.nɪst/
someone who promotes equal opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (known collectively as STEM)

Providing young women with positive role models is crucial if we are to inspire them to take up a career in science, technology, engineering or maths. That’s why Randox has teamed up with other key employers and organisations within Northern Ireland to celebrate the work of STEMinists across the country and share their stories.
[, 16 June 2017]

bropropriation noun [U]
UK /brəʊˌprəʊ.priˈeɪ.ʃᵊn/ US /broʊˌproʊ.priˈeɪ.ʃᵊn/
a situation when a man takes a woman’s idea, claims that it is his own and gets the credit for it

So what can you do? In her book, Feminist Fight Club, author Jessica Bennett suggests the following: find a male ally who sees the problem and put him on bropropriation watch, getting him to point it out when he sees it.
[The Pool, 3 August 2017]

hepeating noun [U]
a situation when a man repeats a good idea expressed by a woman and acts as though it were his own

Pretty much any woman you ask will have experienced some form of hepeating over the course of her life. For me it was university, where I’d say something in a tutorial and then some guy … would say, ‘Yeah, just coming off the back of that, I was thinking…’ and then say exactly what I had just said without adding anything.
[, 26 September 2017]

About new words

Countable or uncountable, and why it matters

Sergey Ryumin / Moment / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Many dictionaries for learners of English (including the one on this site) show whether nouns are ‘countable’ or ‘uncountable’, often using the abbreviations C and U. Countable nouns are things that you can count – one dog, two dogs, twenty dogs, etc. Uncountable nouns are things that you cannot count – water, sadness, plastic, etc.

Continue reading “Countable or uncountable, and why it matters”