New words – 13 July 2020

Westend61 / Getty

cottagecore noun [U]
UK /ˈkɒt.ɪdʒ.kɔːr/ US /ˈkɑː.t̬ɪdʒ.kɔːr/
a lifestyle based on traditional rural activities, or a way of dressing that suggests that lifestyle, usually adopted by people who live in cities

Cottagecore activities such as baking, gardening and making your own clothes have all boomed during the pandemic. Now menswear is taking note. Monthly searches for the staples of so-called “grandad style” have increased.
[The Guardian, 4 July 2020]

anti-fit adjective
UK /ˈæn.ti.fɪt/ US /ˈæn.t̬i.fɪt/
Anti-fit clothes are deliberately designed to fit the wearer’s body very loosely

Anti-fit clothing isn’t partywear. So, keep the vibe cool and comfortable even when it comes to shoes or accessories,” says Bollywood costume designer Rick Roy, who has worked with actors like Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor.
[, 15 February 2020]

Zoomwear noun [U]
UK /ˈzuːm.weəʳ/ US /ˈzuːm.wer/
a style of dressing that involves wearing clothes suitable for the office above the waist and casual clothing below the waist

Zoom Shirts are really the first and last word in Zoomwear. Zoom Jackets, I quickly discovered from looking around large Zoom calls in the early pandemic weeks, are vestimenta non grata. Zoom Ties look even more ridiculous. Everyone knows you have your laptop set up on the dining room table, with dishes just out of sight.
[New York Times, 29 June 2020]

About new words

Are idioms that use ‘black’ and ‘white’ offensive?

Our blog posts about idioms are some of the most popular ones for our readers. Recently, we’ve posted two about idioms that use names for colours – the first one was Seeing red and green with envy, followed by Black sheep and white lies.

One of our readers commented on the second post: she wondered whether any of the expressions to do with the colours black and white were racist in origin. We replied, “Your instinct to examine the language is a good one, since there are so many words and phrases that have been used in the past which we now see are offensive. It’s also true that the words black and white can simply be used as names for colours, and they are widely used that way in many idioms. We don’t provide word origins on our website, but any words or phrases that are offensive have the label offensive. And we update the website frequently, so as the language changes, we also change the advice we give about using it.”

After that response, some people asked questions about other idioms that may be racist. Because we take very seriously our responsibility to help people use English accurately and effectively, we think it’s important to say more about this topic. You may want to look back at the Black sheep and white lies post because we will mention some of the idioms from that post here.

Continue reading “Are idioms that use ‘black’ and ‘white’ offensive?”

New words – 6 July 2020

Donald Iain Smith / Getty

virtual being noun [C]
UK /ˌvɜː.tʃu.əl.ˈbiː.ɪŋ/ US /ˌvɝː.tʃu.əl.ˈbiː.ɪŋ/
a computer program that takes the physical form of a human being and uses artificial intelligence to behave in a way that mimics a real person

According to Samsung, Neon is a “computationally created virtual being” which acts and looks like a “real human,” with the ability to “show emotions and intelligence.” Okay. Samsung is vehement in a press release that Neon is not a virtual assistant, helper app, or bot, but rather some kind of artificially intelligent digital “being” which can interact with real people in an unrehearsed and spontaneous manner.
[, 6 January 2020]

myco-architecture noun [U]
UK /ˌmaɪ.kəʊ.ˈɑː.kɪ.tek.tʃəʳ/ US /ˌmaɪ.kəʊ.ˈɑːr.kə.tek.tʃɚ/
the art and practice of designing and making buildings out of fungus

NASA researchers are investigating the potential of mycelia – the nutrient-absorbing, underground threads that make up a fungus’s main bulk – to help construct outposts on the moon and Mars … With the right conditions, say the researchers, they can be coaxed into making new structures, ranging from a material similar to leather to the building blocks for a Mars habitat. The NASA researchers call it myco-architecture.
[, 22 January 2020]

Gigabit City noun [C]
UK /ˌgɪg.ə.bɪt.ˈsɪt.i/ US /ˌgɪg.ə.bɪt..ˈsɪt̬.i/
a city that uses fibre optic technology to provide everyone who lives or works there with extremely fast broadband

The Stirling Gigabit City project forms part of CityFibre’s £2.5bn Gigabit City investment programme to bring full fibre to five million homes and businesses by 2025. … Councillor Scott Farmer, Leader of Stirling Council, said: “We are proud Stirling is well on its way to becoming the nation’s first completed Gigabit City project and believe it is the start of a huge digital opportunity for businesses and residents in the area.”
[, 24 September 2019]

About new words

New words – 29 June 2020

Fly View Productions / E+ / Getty

flexi-schooling noun [U]
the teaching of children partly at home, usually by their parents, and partly at school

After checking with the local authority, she was able to authorise flexi-schooling as long as her school still “oversaw” Esme’s education. Basically, we had to keep St John’s informed of Esme’s “day off” so they could check she was safe and learning.
[, 21 May 2020]

microschool noun [C]
UK /ˈmaɪ.krəʊ.skuːl/ US /ˈmaɪ.kroʊ.skuːl/
a private school with a very small number of pupils in each class

The push toward smaller, less institutionalized learning environments may also be a boost for the burgeoning microschool movement. Microschools usually operate out of homes or local community organizations and typically have no more than a dozen K-12 students, of varying ages.
[, 11 May 2020]

adversity score noun [C]
UK /ədˈvɜː.sə.ti.skɔːʳ/ US /ədˈvɝː.sə.t̬i.skɔːr/
a number of points assigned to a student applying to go to university or college representing their social and economic background, designed to show the university or college what difficulties the student has overcome

The College Board has continually tried to revamp the SAT, attempting last year to introduce an “adversity score” that would take into account factors like a student’s neighborhood environment. The organization later pulled the plug after backlash.
[, 22 May 2020]

About new words

New words – 22 June

Adam Hester / The Image Bank / Getty

digital nutrition noun [U]
UK /ˌdɪdʒ.ɪ.tᵊl.njuːˈtrɪʃ.ᵊn/ US /ˌdɪdʒ.ə.t̬əl.nuːˈtrɪʃ.ᵊn/
the process of making sure that using mobile phones, computers etc. is not harmful for your physical and mental health

Unplugging won’t solve the root problem. It’s like doing a juice cleanse – you deny yourself and then you’ll go back online and eat a burger … Instead, think of your digital nutrition the same way you think of regular nutrition: instead of worrying about calories or minutes, concentrate on the quality of what you’re consuming.
[, 6 January 2020]

infodemic noun [C]
UK /ˌɪn.fəʊ.ˈdem.ɪk/ US /ˌɪn.foʊ.ˈdem.ɪk/
a very large amount of information that is published about a particular problem, some of which is untrue, therefore making it more difficult to find a solution

The 2019-nCoV outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’ – an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.
[, 2 February 2020]

phygital adjective
UK /ˈfɪdʒ.ɪ.tᵊl/ US /ˈfɪdʒ.ə.t̬ᵊl/
using a combination of physical and digital elements to sell and market a product

In light of lockdown the idea of ‘phygital’ strategy is being turned on its head. It’s no longer about splicing a digital element into physical experiences. More challenging perhaps, it’s now about bringing real physical connection to digital experiences.
[, 29 April 2020]

About new words

New words – 15 June 2020

jim Schlett / iStock / Getty Images Plus

super bloom noun [C]
UK /ˈsuː.pə.bluːm/ US /ˈsuː.pɚ.bluːm/
the appearance of an unusually high number of wild flowers in a particular season

NASA has released a stunning series of images of a massive orange poppy super bloom in USA’s Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. The wildflowers have blossomed in such a massive scale that they are now visible from space.
[, 16 May 2020]

moon garden noun [C]
UK /ˌmuːn.ˈgɑː.dᵊn/ US /ˌmuːn.ˈgɑːr.dᵊn/
a garden that has been designed to be enjoyed at night

Night pollinators such as moths, native bees and bats are attracted to plants in a moon garden with white and pale-colored flowers that are intensely fragrant and produce a lot of nectar. As you walk through the moon garden, you can watch these varied and industrious third-shift pollinators as they go about their important work.
[, 14 May 2020]

vegan gardening noun [U]
UK /ˌviː.gən.ˈgɑː.dᵊn.ɪŋ/ US /ˌviː.gən.ˈgɑːr.dᵊn.ɪŋ/
the practice of growing plants without using any animal products

In vegan gardening, you have to be mindful of what you put on your crops. Animal manures used to help plants grow can be contaminated with infectious diseases such as E coli and listeria, as well as persistent herbicides.
[, 26 January 2019]

About new words

New words – 8 June 2020

Prapass Pulsub / Moment / Getty

cleanliness theatre noun [U]
UK /ˈəs.θɪə.təʳ/ US /ˈəs.θiː.ə.t̬ɚ/
the practice of cleaning public buildings and other places in a very obvious way so that the users of those buildings and places feel reassured about how clean they are

Housekeeping will play a pivotal role for numerous hotels in the years to come, so please consider how you can utilize the concept of cleanliness theatre so guests can see and appreciate all the hard work you’ve done to ensure their safety.
[, 4 May 2020]

air bridge noun [C]
UK /ˌeə.ˈbrɪdʒ/ US /ˌer.ˈbrɪdʒ/
a flight route between two countries where the covid-19 virus is well controlled, enabling people to travel without having to go into quarantine afterwards

The possibility of going abroad for a summer holiday this year has been ambitious at best, but Brits have now been given renewed hope thanks to the prospect of “air bridges” .
[, 21 May 2020]

double bubble noun [C]
the people from two separate households who are allowed to see each other as part of the gradual easing of restrictions during the covid-19 pandemic

In particular, social bubbles are a way to support Canadians experiencing mental-health issues due to the loneliness of isolation as well as parents who are desperate for help with childcare. But even if you fall into neither of those groups, a double bubble means some long-awaited social interactions.
[, 13 May 2020]

About new words

New words – 1 June 2020

Kemter / E+ / Getty

superforecaster noun [C]
UK /ˌsuː.pə.ˈfɔː.kɑː.stəʳ/ US /ˌsuː.pɚ.ˈfɔːr.kæs.tɚ/
someone whose job is to predict what certain events or situations are going to be like in the future, and who can do this very accurately

One of the subjects which a group of superforecasters is tackling now is the total number of Covid-19 infected, and the mortality rate, of the virus a year from now … Here’s what the group of superforecasters … think the figures will be by end March 2021: total global infected population below 7 per cent (with many estimates below 4 per cent), with a case fatality rate of one per cent.
[, 18 April 2020]

hyperleader noun [C]
UK /ˈhaɪ.pə.ˌliː.dəʳ/ US /ˈhaɪ.pə.ˌliː.dɚ/
the leader of a political party who is more popular than the party they lead and who uses social media to engage with their supporters

These modern “hyperleaders” invert the relationship between politician and party. In contrast to the representative model of democracy where politicians were figureheads and parties were the true repositories of power, the hyperleader may have a far larger social media base than their organisation. They float above the party, lifting it into the air through their personal visibility.
[, 8 March 2019]

edupreneur noun [C]
UK /ˌedʒ.u.prəˈnɜːʳ/ US /ˌedʒ.ə.prəˈnɝː/
an entrepreneur who works in the field of education

Edupreneurs are now offering educational opportunities through online courses, mastermind groups, digital apprenticeships, bootcamps, coworking retreats and all kinds of other innovative ways teachers are dreaming up to get results for their students.
[, 24 July 2019]

About new words

New words – 25 May 2020

metamorworks / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Zoombombing noun [U]
UK /ˈzuːm.bɒm.ɪŋ/ US /ˈzuːm.bɑː.mɪŋ/
the act of joining a meeting on the Zoom videoconferencing platform without having been invited, with the aim of disrupting it, often by posting inappropriate content

After Zoom announced it was halting product development to focus on fixing its security, the first changes appear to have arrived. The video messaging service has boomed since the coronavirus outbreak but users have fallen victim to a particular type of attack called Zoombombing.
[, 9 April 2020]

zumping noun [U]
the act of ending a relationship by telling the other person during a video call

Social distancing, self-quarantining and shelter-in-place orders have separated some hopeless romantics from potential partners amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it has also created a terrible new breakup trend for those who hope to part ways with someone they started seeing before pandemic began, but are unable to do so in person: zumping.
[, 15 April 2020]

teletherapy noun [U]
the treatment of mental illness by discussing someone’s problems with them using videoconferencing rather than in person

The transition to teletherapy has been more of a tidal wave than a trickle, with therapists, who generally prefer person-to-person interaction, saying that it’s a safer way to serve their clients.
[Chicago Tribune, 7 April 2020]

About new words

New words – 18 May 2020

Makidotvn / iStock / Getty Images Plus

infinity recycling noun [U]
UK /ɪnˈfɪn.ə.ti.ˌriːˈsaɪ.klɪŋ/ US /ɪnˈfɪn.ə.t̬i.ˌriːˈsaɪ.klɪŋ/
a way of recycling plastic that never reduces its quality, which means it can be recycled an unlimited number of times

Through infinity recycling we are able to fully regenerate plastic waste, making recycled plastic identical to virgin. This is the first time that certified recycled plastic coming from this technology has been used in premium beauty packaging and is opening a future where plastic can be infinitely recycled without losing its quality, hence the name.
[, 7 February 2020]

forever chemical noun [C]
UK /fəˈre.və.ˈkem.ɪ.kᵊl/ US /ˈfɔːˈrev.ɚ.ˈkem.ɪ.kᵊl/
one of a group of chemicals that do not break down in the environment or in the human body

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 5,000 fluorinated compounds whose nickname as “forever chemicals” comes because they don’t naturally break down and there is no known way to destroy them. The ubiquitous compounds are used to make products water- and stain-resistant.
[, 3 February 2020]

eco-guard noun [C]
UK /ˌiː.kəʊ.gɑːd/ US /ˌiː.koʊ.gɑːrd/
someone whose job is to protect wild animals, especially those that are endangered

His experience in the forest makes him particularly well-suited to the work given his knowledge of the terrain and endurance for long patrols. He enjoys being an eco-guard, saying that it has given him a good understanding of the environment and why it is important to keep animals alive rather than killing them for money.
[, 23 May 2019]

About new words