New words – 16 May 2022

an elegant bathroom filled with plants
brizmaker / iStock / Getty Images Plus

plant-flex verb
UK /ˈplɑːnt.fleks/ US /ˈplænt.fleks/
to post pictures on social media of the expensive plants you own in order to show how rich you are

Adapted from 90s US rapper slang, to “plant-flex” is the horticultural version of performatively displaying one’s wealth via the use of status symbols – in this case the status symbol might be something like a variegated monstera. The idea that a humble houseplant can now be equated to a sports car or fat wad of cash might seem surprising, but single leaf nodes of some must-have species now sell for tens of thousands of pounds on online auction sites.
[theguardian.com, 3 April 2022]

proplifting noun [U]
UK /ˈprɒp.lɪf.tɪŋ/ US /ˈprɑːp.lɪf.tɪŋ/
from “propagating” and “shoplifting”: the activity of picking up stems and roots that are lying on the floor of a plant shop, garden centre etc. and taking them home to try to grow them into new plants

Proplifting in its classic form sees devotees collecting cuttings or leaf droppings from the floors of shops or stores and growing them out in their own homes … Granted, it’s a bit of a legal and ethical grey area, but the community of proplifters online is huge and growing. They argue that their love for plants gives otherwise discarded plant babies a second shot at life. Proplifting doesn’t have to take place in shops though. Wandering the streets, you are likely to come across plants that are ripe for a little haircut in public spaces.
[thelatch.com.au, 8 March 2021]

green laird noun [C]
UK /ˌgriːn ˈleəd/ US /ˌgriːn ˈlerd/
a person or company that buys a large piece of land in Scotland and plants trees on it to compensate for things they do that harm the environment

A land reform campaigner has warned of businesses buying up land in Scotland to offset their carbon emissions rather than reducing what they emit. The so-called “green lairds” have peatland restored or land planted with thousands of trees. But Andy Wightman, a former MSP, said the practice did not go far enough to tackle climate change … Green laird is a term that has been used to describe a business buying thousands of acres of land to plant with trees to help it achieve net zero.
[bbc.co.uk/news, 10 December 2021]

About new words

3 thoughts on “New words – 16 May 2022

    1. Speakers and writers of other Englishes appreciate that reminder too, especially when lords and lairds aren’t common in our social context.

      [and I did wonder if LAIRD was common in other Celtic tongues like Irish Gaelic].

  1. Why yes I do remember FLEX being used in the hip-hop and rap world.

    Happened to see a lot of succulents today at a market – and something that was really FLEX was the knitted cosies [probably finger-knitted] some of the plants were stored in and displayed by.

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