Beds of roses and sore thumbs (Newspaper idioms)

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by Kate Woodford

Readers of this blog often ask us for posts on English idioms. Understandably, they also tell us that it’s important that the idioms are used now. One way that we make sure we focus on up to date idioms is by looking at expressions used in current newspapers. The expressions in this week’s post are taken from a range of national newspapers that were published on February 5th, 2020. Continue reading “Beds of roses and sore thumbs (Newspaper idioms)”

New words – 17 February 2020

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orthosomnia noun [U]
UK /ˌɔː.θəˈsɒm.ni.ə/ US /ˌɔːr.θoʊˈsɑːm.ni.ə/
the inability to sleep well, caused by thinking too much about getting enough sleep and by using apps and other technology to measure how much sleep you get

Orthosomnia is a new type of sleep problem that has arisen due to the overload of sleep information thanks to the influx of digital sleep trackers and apps in recent years … In other words, by becoming so dependent upon these devices on their quest to achieve perfect sleep, people with orthosomnia are actually struggling to sleep and may spend countless hours thinking exhaustively about how they cannot optimise their nightly rest.
[greenqueen.com, 9 January 2020]

art acne noun [U]
UK /ˈɑːt.æk.ni/ US /ˈɑːrt.æk.ni/
damage on the surface of paintings in the form of small bumps, caused by a chemical reaction

Some of the world’s finest oil paintings have been self-destructing, developing mysterious lumps and bumps known as “art acne”. Works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Rembrandt are among the hundreds of works blighted by the condition. For decades, art conservators have struggled to control the outbreaks, which look like grains of sand to the naked eye.
[dailymail.co.uk, 17 February 2019]

London throat noun [U]
UK /ˌlʌn.dən.ˈθrəʊt/ US /ˌlʌn.dən.ˈθroʊt/
a mild infection, similar to a cold, said to be common among people who live in London and caused by pollution

Scrapping speed bumps could help protect city dwellers against “London throat” because braking releases toxic dust which may trigger coughs and colds, scientists have said. Urbanites often suffer from intermittent bouts of runny noses and brain fog, which experts have long-suspected are caused by pollution. Dubbed “London Throat”, this ongoing low-level illness can lead to more serious infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
[telegraph.co.uk, 9 January 2020]

About new words

To put it another way: the language of explanations

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by Liz Walter

In this post, I am going to talk about the language of explaining, something we all have to do from time to time. Continue reading “To put it another way: the language of explanations”

New words – 10 February 2020

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triple-screen verb [I]
/ˌtrɪp.ᵊl.ˈskriː.n/
to read or watch three screens at the same time

Parents are using professional coaches in their battles over screen time with their children, behaviour specialists have said. Some families complain their children are “triple-screening”, simultaneously viewing phones, laptops and televisions.
[The Times, 28 September 2019]

juice jacking noun [U]
/ˈdʒuːs.dʒæk.ɪŋ/
an illegal attempt to harm someone’s computer, tablet or smartphone, or the information on it, by using a charging port

There has been much coverage of “juice jacking” of late. This involves a cybercriminal using altered USB charging ports in airports, train stations and hotels to infect your device with malware. You can carry a USB charger that plugs into a power socket or invest in a power-only USB charging cable to prevent this.
[www.guardian.com, 31 December 2019]

digital vellum noun [U]
UK /ˌdɪdʒ.ɪ.tᵊl.ˈvel.əm/ US /ˌdɪdʒ.ə.t̬ᵊl.ˈvel.əm/
a process that will allow digital files to be accessed at any time in the future so that important data and documents will always be available

Another way of solving the problem is “digital vellum”, a concept that is still in development. That involves taking a snapshot of all the ways that a digital file can be opened, and storing it alongside the document itself — meaning that scientists will be able to use the instructions to reproduce the files by following the instructions.
[independent.co.uk, 13 February 2015]

About new words

Outlooks and forecasts (The language of predictions)

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by Kate Woodford

It’s February – still more or less the start of the year – and you may still be thinking about the months ahead and predicting what’s likely to happen. With this in mind, we’re looking today at the words and phrases that we use to say what we think will – or might – happen in the future. Continue reading “Outlooks and forecasts (The language of predictions)”

New words – 3 February 2020

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ghost gear noun [U]
UK /ˈgəʊst.gɪəʳ/ US /ˈgoʊst.gɪr/
fishing equipment, such as nets and lines, that is abandoned in the ocean and takes several hundred years to decompose, thus causing harm to sea life and the environment

Each year at least 640,000 tonnes of this “ghost gear” is left in our oceans – the equivalent of 52,000 London double decker buses and I’ve read devastating reports stating that over 817 species are trapped and killed under the surface by this litter. The ghost gear eventually breaks down into micro-plastics and can have a lasting effect on marine life for many years.
[www.huffpost.com, 27 December 2017]

seacuterie noun [U]
/siːˈkuːtəriː/
an assortment of cold fish and shellfish, cooked or prepared in different ways

We all love a good charcuterie board, but according to a new report from Waitrose, next year will see the rise of ‘seacuterie’ instead – using seafood instead of the traditional meat. Waitrose’s latest Food and Drink Report predicts a surge in popularity for this Australian-originated trend, which involves pickling, fermenting, smoking and/or ageing seafood. With dishes like octopus salami, shellfish sausages or swordfish ham available, it’s a new take on a beloved classic.
[www.goodhousekeeping.com, 7 November 2019]

tidewater architect noun [C]
UK /ˌtaɪd.wɔː.tər.ˈɑː.kɪ.tekt/ US /ˌtaɪd.wɑː.t̬ɚ.ˈɑːr.kə.tekt/
someone whose job is to plan and design parts of a town or city in way that protects them from rising tides as a result of climate change

Tidewater architects will be responsible for the planning and execution of projects that work with nature — not against it. Excellence in hydro-engineering, civil engineering and architectural design derived from the principles of moats, floats, super-dikes and wetlands is essential to this role.
[medium.com, 1 August 2019]

About new words

Let down and look after: the difference between phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs

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by Liz Walter

My colleague Kate Woodford and I have written many posts about phrasal verbs because students find them difficult but know they need to learn them. These posts often include prepositional verbs, and readers sometimes ask about this. Continue reading “Let down and look after: the difference between phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs”

New words – 27 January 2020

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twinning noun [U]
/ˈtwɪn.ɪŋ/
wearing the same clothes at the same time as one or more other members of your family

One of the things that’s lovely about parent-child twinning is that gender doesn’t matter here; mums are wearing sweatshirts to match their son’s babygrows, dads are twinning tees with their daughters. And it’s everywhere, from ASDA’s mother-daughter Halloween costume tutus to matching slogan tees, it’s never been easier to dress like a kid. Or do we mean dress like an adult?
[culturewhisper.com, 18 October 2019]

powerband noun [C]
UK /ˈpaʊə.bænd/ US /ˈpaʊ.ɚ.bænd/
a style of broad headband said to be worn mainly by young upper-class women

They aren’t the first cohort of young, aristo women with a penchant for the powerband. The velvet headband became a cliche of the 1980s Sloane, along with a Barbour, loafers and a pie-crust collar. Sarah Ferguson, Princess Diana and Princess Caroline of Monaco were all partial to one.
[theguardian.com, 23 October 2019]

tech vest noun [C]
/ˈtek.vest/
an informal term for a gilet (= a piece of clothing that is worn over other clothes and that is like a jacket without sleeves), so called because many people who work in the technology industry are said to wear them

The centrepiece of that is the gilet – or “tech vests” as they have come to be known. At the 36th Allen & Company Sun Valley conference earlier this year (the so-called billionaire summer camp where mega-deals are made) media alphas such as Bezos, Lachlan Murdoch and Hank Crumpton all wore theirs.
[The Observer, 3 November 2019]

About new words

Donating and allocating (Verbs that mean ‘give’)

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by Kate Woodford

This is the second part of a two-part blog post focusing on words meaning ‘give’. The first post looked at phrasal verbs with this meaning. Here, we look at single words in this area. Continue reading “Donating and allocating (Verbs that mean ‘give’)”

New words – 20 January 2020

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urban creep noun [U]
UK /ˌɜː.bən.ˈkriːp/ US /ˌɝː.bən.ˈkriːp/
the gradual loss of green space in a city that happens when gardens are paved over, house extensions are built etc.

Urban creep can cause problems because it reduces the amount of open land which can absorb rain water, putting extra pressure on drains … Researchers studying aerial images found that 11 hectares of green land in the capital is being lost annually, more than six hectares of it through urban creep. About one hectare is being gained each year through the regeneration of former industrial areas.
[www.bbc.co.uk, 14 October 2019]

pocket park noun [C]
UK /ˈpɒk.ɪt.pɑːk/ US /ˈpɑː.kɪt.pɑːrk/
a small area of parkland built on an empty piece of land

Unloved urban spaces will be converted into small “pocket parks” with a new round of Government funding … Community groups can now bid for new parks or reimagined spaces to be converted into play areas and vegetable patches. The Government will spend £1.3 million as an extension of its pocket parks plus scheme, which began in December 2018.
[Sunday Telegraph, 27 October 2019]

smart city noun [C]
UK /ˈsmɑːt.sɪt.i/ US /ˈsmɑːrt.sɪt̬.i/
a city where information and communications technology is used to make life better for its residents

Sidewalk Labs’s plans to create a smart city in a disused area of Toronto can proceed but on a much smaller scale than it had wanted. Any data the Google-affiliate collects there must be treated as a public asset … Sidewalk Labs won an initial contract to develop the area in 2017 and promised a radical mix of offices, retail spaces and homes, with high-tech solutions to urban problems such as traffic and waste disposal.
[www.bbc.co.uk, 31 October 2019]

About new words