a businesswoman working at her desk looks worried as she is approached by a colleague

New words – 5 December 2022

Nattakorn Maneerat / iStock / Getty Images Plus

desk-bombing noun [U]
UK /ˈdeskˌbɒm.ɪŋ/ US /ˈdeskˌbɑː.mɪŋ/
the activity of suddenly going to talk to someone who is working at their desk, rather than phoning them or sending them an email, seen by some people as impolite

On “desk-bombing”, Trehan goes on: “One explanation is that workers grew accustomed to going solo during the lockdowns and, once back in-office, felt uncomfortable interacting with colleagues and clients face-to-face. But, if so, surely surprise Zoom calls are much the same thing. Those who’d rather be left alone in the office treat desk-bombing as if it was some kind of HR issue or breach of contract”.
[hrgrapevine.com, 25 October 2022]

Sunday scaries noun [plural]
UK /ˌsʌn.deɪ ˈskeə.riz/ US /ˌsʌn.deɪ ˈsker.iz/
a feeling of stress or anxiety experienced by someone on a Sunday before they have to go back to work the next day after the weekend

Sunday is often a chance to catch up with friends, lost sleep, and recover from last night’s hangover. But for many of us, by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, a feeling of intense anxiety and dread sets in – often referred to as the “Sunday scaries.” It’s hardly surprising the Sunday scaries are so common. After all, research shows Sunday is our unhappiest day of the week – with Saturday being the peak. There are a number of reasons why the Sunday scaries happen, and how you spend your weekend can play a big role.
[cnn.com, 14 August 2022]

quiet hiring noun [U]
UK /ˌkwaɪ.ət ˈhaɪə.rɪŋ/ US /ˌkwaɪ.ət ˈhaɪr.ɪŋ/
the activity of employing someone who already works in the company in a different role, often someone who is already doing many of the tasks that the new position demands

More specifically, Google is using an under-the-radar recruiting strategy of quiet hiring. It’s part of what enables it to identify the brightest minds (internally and externally) and place the best candidates into its open positions. And Google isn’t the only company that uses some form of quiet hiring. In fact, it’s a tried-and-true method that many businesses, large and small, employ.
[inc.com, 8 September 2022]

About new words

a yawning tabby kitten

Has the cat got your tongue? (How we talk, Part 2)

a yawning tabby kitten
Westend61/Westend61/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

My last ‘How we talk’ post focused on words used for people who talk a lot, including adjectives such as ‘talkative’ and ‘forthcoming’. This week, I’m looking at the opposite – words that we use for people who say very little. Continue reading “Has the cat got your tongue? (How we talk, Part 2)”

New words – 28 November 2022

lucigerma / iStock / Getty Images Plus

thermal tourism noun [U]
UK /ˌθɜː.mᵊl ˈtʊə.rɪ.zᵊm/ US /ˌθɝː.mᵊl ˈtʊr.ɪ.zᵊm/
travel to a warmer country to spend the winter months there in order to avoid the cold weather and higher heating bills in your own country

Tourism operators in Southern European countries are hoping to capitalise on cold winters and energy bills elsewhere on the continent by advertising their warmer climates as winter approaches. Destinations including Greece, southern Spain and the Canary Islands are taking advantage of “thermal tourism”, a trend in Britain for flying to cheaper, warmer climates to escape the winter and the cost of living crisis in the UK.
[independent.ie, 11 October 2022]

African plume noun [C]
/ˌæf.rɪ.kən ˈpluːm/
a long, thin mass of warm air that moves upwards from Africa, causing warmer weather in more northerly parts of the world

Parts of the UK could be in for a rare Indian summer this month – with temperatures rising as high as 22C. An “African plume” will push temperatures up across the country over the next two weeks, with some forecasters suggesting that the mild spell will last up to Halloween on October 31.
[mirror.co.uk, 17 October 2022]

warm bank noun [C]
UK /ˌwɔːm ˈbæŋk/ US /ˌwɔːrm ˈbæŋk/
a place such as a library, museum or other public building where someone can go to get warm in the winter if they cannot afford to heat their home, run as a public service by a town council, charity etc.

If you were in any doubt about the scale of the cost of living crisis devastating the UK, the fact councils and charities are preparing to open “warm banks” should tell you everything you need to know … The charity New Beginnings Reading is setting up Reading’s first warm bank this winter, hosted in an old refurbished pub. It will keep its heating on around the clock, and act as a social place where people can enjoy a hot drink and soup together.
[bigissue.com, 16 September 2022]

About new words

a photograph of two young people smiling and talking to each other, with a colourful, illustrated background showing a speech bubble

He could talk the hind legs off a donkey (How we talk, Part 1)

a photograph of two young people smiling and talking to each other, with a colourful, illustrated background showing a speech bubble
We Are/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

This week and next, I’m looking at ways to describe how much – or how little – we speak. There are lots of words (especially adjectives) in this area, with very different connotations, from chatty (=talking a lot in a friendly, informal way) to reserved (=tending not to talk about your feelings or opinions):

Jamie was his usual chatty self.

My grandfather was a quiet, rather reserved man.

This post will cover words and phrases that mean ‘talking a lot’ and Part 2 will deal with the opposite. Continue reading “He could talk the hind legs off a donkey (How we talk, Part 1)”

a man wearing earbuds asleep in bed

New words – 21 November 2022

a man wearing earbuds asleep in bed
monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images Plus

brown noise noun [U]
/ˌbraʊn ˈnɔɪz/
a type of sound that resembles a low rumble or the noise the sea makes, thought by some people to encourage sleep and relaxation

Welcome to the cult of brown noise, a sometimes hazily-defined category of neutral, dense sound that contains every frequency our ears can detect. Brown noise is like white noise but has a lower, deeper quality … There have been few studies on using brown noise as a sleep aid, though one of the claims floating around TikTok is that it can help you nod off.
[nytimes.com, 23 September 2022]

motion pillow noun [C]
UK /ˈməʊ.ʃən ˌpɪl.əʊ/ US /ˈmoʊ.ʃən ˌpɪl.oʊ/
a type of pillow that automatically adjusts the position of the sleeping person’s head when it detects that they are snoring

With innovative sleeping technology like a motion pillow, individuals suffering from chronic snoring enable uninterrupted nasal breathing. When this device detects snoring, it inflates and gently adjusts the user’s head without causing disturbances to alleviate snoring slowly. In turn, the person can avoid releasing annoying sounds at night and enable a restful sleep for their roommates.
[healthtechzone.com, 31 August 2022]

nap box noun [C]
UK /ˈnæp ˌbɒks/ US /ˈnæp ˌbɑːks/
a type of narrow cupboard designed for someone to stand in while they have a short nap, the inside having special shelves to support the person’s head and body

The workforce in Japan is apparently so overwhelmed that two companies are partnering up to create new upright “nap boxes.” Illustrations of the new design show neutral, innocuous-looking tubes with midcentury-inspired wooden legs. The shelves inside act like full-body armrests — helpful for preventing users from falling over as they doze off between meetings.
[futurism.com, 15 July 2022]

About new words

2022 Word of the Year

Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2022

2022 Word of the YearOnce again, it’s the time of year when the Cambridge Dictionary team looks back over the past twelve months to choose a word that represents what the dictionary, and what the English language, means to its users. This year’s word might surprise you, so read on to find out why the Word of the Year 2022 is… homer! Continue reading “Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2022”

a young woman looking thoughtful as she writes an essay - she has a notebook and laptop in front of her

Whereas, despite and nevertheless: ways to link ideas (1)

a young woman looking thoughtful as she writes an essay - she has a notebook and laptop in front of her
insta_photos/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

When we speak and write, it is important to show the link between different statements. For example, do we want to add information, contrast two ideas, or show that one thing is the reason for another? Of course it is possible to use very simple linking words such as and, but and so, but it is useful to have a wider range of linking words, particularly for formal or academic writing. Continue reading “Whereas, despite and nevertheless: ways to link ideas (1)”

a close-up photograph of one person passing a handful of bank notes to another - only their hands are visible against a black background

New words – 14 November 2022

a close-up photograph of one person passing a handful of bank notes to another - only their hands are visible against a black background
naruecha jenthaisong / Moment / Getty

Great Wealth Transfer noun [S]
UK /ˌgreɪt ˈwelθ ˌtræns.fɜːʳ/ US /ˌgreɪt ˈwelθ ˌtræns.fɝː/
the gradual movement of money from baby boomers (people born in the mid-1940s to mid-1960s) to younger generations, either given as gifts or passed on through inheritance

Ultimately, while the specific impacts at this stage remain relatively unknown, it’s important to acknowledge that the Great Wealth Transfer won’t just be about passing down money to adult children. It’s clear the transfer will redefine many aspects of the economy. So, what can you do today to stay ahead of the economic changes coming?
[entrepreneur.com, 27 September 2022]

effective altruism noun [U]
UK /ɪˌfek.tɪv ˈæl.tru.ɪ.zᵊm/ US /əˌfek.tɪv ˈæl.tru.ɪ.zᵊm/
a movement and area of research that aims to work out the best way of helping other people and solving the world’s problems

In a few short years, effective altruism has become the giving philosophy for many Silicon Valley programmers, hedge funders and even tech billionaires. At its core, effective altruism is devoted to the question of how one can do as much good as possible with the money and time available to them.
[nytimes.com, 8 October 2022]

thriftifarian noun [C]
UK /ˌθrɪft.əˈfeə.ri.ən/ US /ˌθrɪft.əˈfer.i.ən/
someone who is well off but pretends they have to spend less money and not buy certain things so that they appear to be in the same situation as most other people

I came up with a name for a similar group of people: “thriftifarians”. These are middle- or upper-class people who take virtuous pleasure in the selective economies they don’t need to make, especially during times of recession. It seems the thriftifarian is back, only this time what matters most is signalling your fictitious need to economise, whether you actually do so or not.
[theguardian.com, 17 October 2022]

About new words

Two businessmen looking at the financial paper with surprised expression

Hot air and bad blood (Idioms found in newspapers)

Two businessmen looking at the financial paper with surprised expression
GSO Images/The Image Bank/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Today’s post is a round-up of the idioms and phrases found in a range of national newspapers published on the same Sunday in October. I write one of these newspaper idioms posts every few months as a way of providing you with a regular supply of contemporary, frequently used English idioms. Continue reading “Hot air and bad blood (Idioms found in newspapers)”

a group of four young people on a boat smiling at the camera

New words – 7 November 2022

a group of four young people on a boat smiling at the camera
AscentXmedia / iStock / Getty Images Plus

liveaboard noun [C]
UK /ˈlɪv.əˌbɔːd/ US /ˈlɪv.əˌbɔːrd/
someone who lives permanently on a boat

The couple are currently in Greece, “a seagoing nation” they adore for its free mooring and the warm welcome extended to liveaboards. They dropped anchor on the small island of Meganisi when Covid struck but plan to cruise on towards Turkey. “Loads of liveaboards want to lap the world in five years or whatever,” Natalie says. “But we like to get to know new places rather than mindlessly circumnavigating the globe.”
[theguardian.com, 28 August 2022]

flying ferry noun [C]
/ˌflaɪ.ɪŋ ˈfer.i/
a large boat that can travel quickly above the surface of the water, used for taking passengers and often vehicles from one place to another

Three feet above the waves, with only its hydrofoils cutting through the water, the boat leaves virtually no wake, noise, or emissions—a sea change from the hulking diesel-powered ferries that currently haul commuters through the archipelago that makes up the Swedish capital. The aim is to have the flying ferry form a part of Stockholm’s public transport fleet.
[wired.co.uk, 14 July 2022]

GOAT noun [C]
UK /gəʊt/ US /goʊt/
abbreviation for Greatest Of All Trips: used to refer to or describe the best, most expensive, most adventurous etc. holiday that someone has ever taken

More than two-thirds of Americans are planning to go big on their next trip. Expedia is calling this new “no-regrets” style of travel the “GOAT” (Greatest of All Trips) mindset … In the coming year, American travelers are going after their GOAT by stepping outside their comfort zone and immersing themselves in a destination, culture, and experiences completely different to their own.
[hospitalitynet.org, 1 December 2021]

About new words