Wildfires and mid-term elections: a look back at 2018 in the US

Liz Walter

RichVintage/E+/GettyImages

In this, the second of two year-end posts, I look at words associated with some major events and trends of 2018 from the perspective of the US. I’ve picked just six topics from an action-packed year, and I’ve tried to go for variety rather than simply importance, since the purpose of these posts is to provide useful vocabulary, not to report on the news or provide an opinion on it. Continue reading “Wildfires and mid-term elections: a look back at 2018 in the US”

New words – 10 December 2018

Tim Macpherson / Cultura / Getty

tsundoku noun [U]
UK /tsʊn.ˈdəʊ.kuː/ US /tsʊn.ˈdoʊ.kuː/
the activity of buying a lot of books that you never have time to read

Strictly speaking, the word doku does mean reading, so tsundoku should probably only be used when discussing literature. But you might not be surprised to know some people have applied the term to other aspects of their lives. In a popular post on Reddit’s community dedicated to books, people discussed how this term could explain their relationship with films, television shows and even clothing.
[www.bbc.co.uk, 29 July 2018]

wabi-sabi noun [U]
/ˌwæ.bɪ.ˈsæ.bɪ/
the Japanese concept of appreciating the beauty in old and imperfect things

As we start to emerge from the cosy cocoon of winter, it’s time to embrace wabi-sabi, the spring interiors trend causing a stir. Wabi-sabi is about embracing a way of living that is authentic, simple and close to nature.
[www.t3.com, 11 January 2018]

kakeibo noun [U]
UK /kæ.ˈkeɪbəʊ/ US /kæ.ˈkeɪ.boʊ/
a Japanese approach to managing your money that involves using a journal to plan and monitor your spending each month

Kakeibo is an analog method of budgeting that’s been used in Japanese households for over 100 years. It combines elements of keeping a money journal, a planner, and a ledger all in one. This creates a system that helps you set, track, and achieve savings goals.
[www.studentloanhero.com, 13 June 2018]

About new words

Fussy eaters and healthy appetites (Words and phrases to describe the way we eat)

Serge/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Do you eat to live, or live to eat? If you’ve never heard this phrase before, someone who eats to live, eats only because they have to in order to carry on living. For this type of person, food is just fuel. Someone who lives to eat, on the other hand, regards food as the best part of living and is always looking forward to their next meal. I think it’s true to say that most of us fall somewhere between these two extremes! Continue reading “Fussy eaters and healthy appetites (Words and phrases to describe the way we eat)”

New words – 3 December 2018

Talia Ali / EyeEm / GettyImages

cart abandonment noun [U]
UK /ˈkɑːt.əbæn.dən.mənt/ US /ˈkɑːrt.əbæn.dən.mənt/
the practice of adding items to your online shopping cart on an e-commerce site but leaving the site without making the purchase

Without understanding why customers abandon carts, it is impossible to reduce cart abandonment. We’ve collected the top 10 reasons for cart abandonment. We’ll be breaking down each cause in detail, and provide a quick overview of how you can eliminate cart abandonment and recover sales.
[www.barilliance.com, 28 February 2018]

recommerce noun [U]
UK /ˌriːˈkɒm.ɜːs/ US /ˌriːˈkɑː.mɝːs/
the business of buying and selling used items, such as electronics and clothes, on the internet

Recommerce appeals to the aspirational and value-conscious nature of the Indian consumer. The feeling of status elevation by using a better-quality brand or product at a reasonable price point is helping this segment grow. Even more so, the large number of first-time buyers, students, and technophiles who want to upgrade their gadgets find great value in refurbished smartphones.
[www.techinasia.com, 13 February 2018]

pay-what-you-can adjective
UK /ˌpeɪ.wɒt.jəˈkæn/ US /ˌpeɪ.wɑːt.jəˈkæn/
relating to a way of selling goods that allows the shopper to pay only what they can afford

In a bright, airy Toronto market, the shelves are laden with everything from organic produce to pre-made meals and pet food. What shoppers won’t find, however, is price tags. In what is believed to be a North American first, everything in this grocery store is pay-what-you-can.
[www.guardian.com, 25 June 2018]

About new words

The People’s Word of 2018

From New York to London to Tokyo, fans of the online Cambridge Dictionary have been voting for the word that they believe best sums up the year 2018. Our editors chose a shortlist of four words from this year’s new additions by looking at which ones were most popular and most relevant to 2018, and then asked you – our blog readers and social media followers – to vote.

The votes have now been counted and the People’s Word of 2018 has been decided. The word that received the most votes is:

nomophobia noun [U]

fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it

The Cambridge Dictionary is one of the most popular online dictionaries in the world, and you, our users, are part of a very smart and enthusiastic global community using our free resources. So we were eager to give you the opportunity to tell us which words out of the thousands of new words and definitions we add every year best reflected 2018’s trends and events.

Your choice, nomophobia, tells us that people around the world probably experience this type of anxiety enough that you recognized it needed a name! Like many modern coinages, nomophobia is what’s called a blend: a new word made up of syllables from two or more words, in this case ‘no mobile phone phobia.’

Of course nomophobia isn’t a scientific word; a true phobia (extreme fear of something) is different from anxiety (extreme worry). The word has actually been around a lot longer than you would think. The earliest known use was in 2008 – not by psychologists, but by YouGov researchers, in a report commissioned by the UK Post Office. It then began to appear in UK media and has since spread around the world. Having proved its staying power, it was added to the online Cambridge Dictionary earlier this year.

Other words on the shortlist for the People’s Word of 2018 were:

gender gap noun [C]

a difference between the way men and women are treated in society, or between what men and women do and achieve

ecocide noun [U]

destruction of the natural environment of an area, or very great damage to it

no-platforming noun [U]

the practice of refusing someone an opportunity to make their ideas or beliefs known publicly, because you think these beliefs are dangerous or unacceptable

For more information about how the Cambridge Dictionary editors decide which new words to add to the online dictionary, take a look at the two-minute animation on our YouTube channel.

A royal wedding and an attempted murder: a look back at 2018 in the UK

Sean Gladwell/Moment/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

As 2018 draws to a close, I thought it would be interesting to look at just a few of the year’s major events. This post takes a UK perspective; my next one will cover events in the USA. I should make it clear that the purpose of this post is to focus on vocabulary – much as I might like to, I am not expressing any personal opinions about things that have happened! Continue reading “A royal wedding and an attempted murder: a look back at 2018 in the UK”

New words – 26 November 2018

Ariel Skelley / DigitalVision / Getty

daycation noun [C]
/deɪ.ˈkeɪ.ʃən/
a day trip, usually to a hotel or similar resort, where you use the facilities for the day then go home at night

As the name implies, a daycation is about getting away from your hectic life and enjoying all the amenities of a real vacation without all the extra travel or expenses. The service is growing in popularity in cities like Miami where luxury pools and spas are a staple at just about every beachside hotel.
[www.porthole.com, 17 May 2018] Continue reading “New words – 26 November 2018”

You look like a million dollars! (Describing appearances)

Choose what makes you happyby Kate Woodford

Describing other people’s appearances is something most of us do now and then. We might do it in order to ask who someone is: ‘Who was the very smart guy in the blue suit?’ Sometimes we describe how other people look simply because we find it interesting: ‘Sophie always looks so elegant – not a hair out of place!’ If you’d like to expand your vocabulary for describing how people look, read on! Continue reading “You look like a million dollars! (Describing appearances)”

New words – 19 November 2018

Andrew Olney / DigitalVision / Getty

free-range parenting noun [U]
UK /ˌfriː.reɪndʒ.ˈpeə.rᵊn.tɪŋ/ US /ˌfriː.reɪndʒ.ˈper.ᵊn.tɪŋ/
a way of raising children that involves allowing them to do many things without being supervised in order to encourage them to become independent and responsible

Free-range parenting isn’t about being permissive or uninvolved. Instead, it’s about allowing kids to have the freedom to experience natural consequences of their behavior — when it’s safe to do so. It’s also about ensuring kids have the skills they need to become responsible adults.
[www.verywellfamily.com, 24 March 2018]

maternymoon noun [C]
UK /məˈtɜː.ni.muːn/ US /məˈtɝː.ni.muːn/
a holiday taken by a family while the mother is on maternity leave from work

For us, we were quite happy with a driving holiday overseas for our first maternymoon, however, we’ve decided on a relaxing, tropical holiday closer to home for our second one. Yep, you heard right – a second one!
[www.nowtolove.com.au, 16 August 2016]

rental family noun [C]
UK /ˈren.tᵊl.fæm.ᵊl.i/ US /ˈren.t̬ᵊl.fæm.ᵊl.i/
actors who are paid to pretend to be someone’s family members in order to provide companionship or to accompany the person to social events such as parties and weddings

Yūichi Ishii, the founder of Family Romance, told me that he and his “cast” actively strategize in order to engineer outcomes like Nishida’s, in which the rental family makes itself redundant in the client’s life. His goal, he said, is “to bring about a society where no one needs our service.”
[New Yorker, 30 April 2018]

About new words

London, Leicester and Lincoln: Pronouncing English place names

travel destination
kwanisik/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

Place names are amongst the hardest words in English to pronounce. Even people with English as a first language are often unable to guess the pronunciation of an unfamiliar place. I have restricted myself to major English towns and cities because there simply isn’t enough space in one post to venture more widely, but do let me know if you’d like posts on the pronunciation of other major place names.

I want to start with the capital, London, because many learners of English pronounce the two ‘o’ sounds here to rhyme with the ‘o’ in ‘dog’. However, the correct pronunciation is /ˈlʌn.dən/. The first ‘o’ rhymes with the ‘u’ in ‘fun’ and the second one is almost omitted: if you simply try to pronounce ‘dn’ at the end, it will sound correct. Continue reading “London, Leicester and Lincoln: Pronouncing English place names”