Stress busters and potato milk (New entries in our dictionary)

potato milk (an off-white liquid) being poured from a glass bottle into a drinking glass, with whole potatoes in the background
Iryna Melnyk/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

This week’s blog post is a little different from the sort of posts that you’re used to reading here. Just for a change, we’re looking at some of the words and phrases that have recently been added to our online dictionary and seeing what common themes are reflected in these latest additions. We regularly add words to the Cambridge Dictionary to keep it up to date as the English language changes. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with our New Words posts, where we show you our research into words that have appeared in English very recently. Some of these words are only used for a short amount of time before being forgotten. Others become part of everyday language, and when our research shows that this has happened, we can consider adding them to the dictionary. This post looks at some of these, so if you want to learn about some recent additions to the Cambridge Dictionary, read on!

With the increase in concern that we all feel for the environment, it’s no surprise that a lot of environment-related language has recently entered our dictionary. Words featuring ‘carbon’ are especially noticeable. For example, we now have the terms carbon neutral (= not adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere): a carbon-neutral home / festival. Even better, we have carbon negative (= actively reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere): the company’s plan to be carbon negative. We also have the verb decarbonize, meaning ‘to stop causing carbon gases to enter the atmosphere’: the government’s plans to decarbonize the economy

Another environment word that is new to our dictionary is peatland. Peatlands are areas of land formed over thousands of years from decaying plants. We hear them discussed a lot now in relation to the environment because they store carbon and also provide a valuable home for wildlife.

We also have the verb over-exploit, meaning ‘to use too much of something, especially a natural resource’: If we continue to over-exploit these fish, stocks will soon be gone.

Related to the environment, the plant-based diet continues to provide a source of new words as more and more items of food are veganized (=made suitable for vegans). For example, you’ll now find plant milk (=a liquid similar to milk made from oats, nuts, rice, etc.) in our dictionary and even the latest vegan-friendly plant milk, potato milk, (yes, that’s ‘milk’ made from potatoes!)

Self-care is another theme reflected in recent additions as we all do our best to look after ourselves in these difficult times. For example, you’ll find the phrase stress buster in our dictionary, meaning ‘an activity or thing that reduces stress’: Physical exercise is one of the best stress busters. You’ll also find an entry for protein shake, (= a drink made by mixing protein powder with a liquid): I drink a protein shake after a workout.  An item that you might not be familiar with, now in our dictionary, is the weighted blanket – a blanket made of a heavy material which makes you feel calmer and less anxious when you lie under it. And if a weighted blanket fails to improve your sleep, there’s always an eye mask or a sleep mask for blocking out the light.

If you’d like to learn more about how words and phrases are added to our dictionary, please follow this link:


15 thoughts on “Stress busters and potato milk (New entries in our dictionary)

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi Joyce! Good question! Yes, there’s evidence for ‘overexploit’ as one word. I’m really pleased you enjoyed the post!

  1. Good to know that weighted blankets are now in the Cambridge Dictionary.

    I first learnt of this term in 1997 when people like Temple Grandin and Tom McKean [who also invented a pressure suit] were using their weighted blankets.

    When I was reading about milk in Canadian daycares – I was surprised that potato milk was not mentioned.

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi Adelaide! That’s interesting about weighted blankets. Re potato milk, as far as I’m aware, potato milk is the most recent non-dairy milk. I haven’t seen it in UK supermarkets yet. Best wishes from Cambridge.

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