New words – 16 March 2020

Frank and Helena/Cultura/Getty Images

social gifting noun [U]
UK /ˌsəʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈgɪft.ɪŋ/ US /ˌsoʊ.ʃᵊl.ˈgɪft.ɪŋ/
doing a kind act for other people or to benefit the community instead of buying someone a gift

More and more engaged couples are shunning lavish wedding presents in favour of so-called ‘social gifting’. These couples, typically in their early 30s, have no use – or space – for expensive homeware. Instead, they ask their wedding guests to carry out small acts of kindness, such as picking up litter, volunteering at a local charity or helping an elderly neighbour with their groceries.
[www.dailymail.co.uk, 16 February 2019]

impact exercise noun [U]
UK /ˈɪm.pækt.ˌek.sə.saɪz/ US /ˈɪm.pækt.ˌek.sɚ.saɪz/
the activity of combining a sporting challenge such as running a marathon with working on a project that benefits the people who live in the same area

Imagine travelling to Nepal to build a pipe that brings clean running water to a whole village, then topping it off with a high-altitude marathon in the Shivapuri national park in the Himalayas … This is impact exercise: the fitness and travel trend that combines sport and adventure with hands-on charity and community goals.
[Sunday Times, 5 January 2020]

woke capitalism noun [U]
UK /ˌwəʊk.ˈkæp.ɪ.tᵊl.ɪ.zᵊm/ US /ˌwoʊk.ˈkæp.ə.t̬ᵊl.ɪ.zᵊm/
a strategy used by some major businesses in which they become involved in popular social and political issues in order to make more money

Instead of making business woke, we should not let our moral horizons be clouded by sentimental humanitarianism. We must critique woke capitalism clearly and forcibly, remembering that business exists to realize the particular economic ends that constitute its specific common good. 
[www.thepublicdiscourse.com, 16 February 2019]

About new words

New words – 9 March 2020

James Emmerson / robertharding / Getty Images Plus

bronze ceiling noun [C]
UK /ˌbrɒnz.ˈsiː.lɪŋ/ US /ˌbrɑːnz.ˈsiː.lɪŋ/
the fact that there are many fewer statues of women than of men

Three women who were pioneers for women’s rights are about to make history again. They’re becoming the first statues of women in New York’s iconic Central Park. The people behind the project say they’re breaking the “bronze ceiling” by creating the first ever statues of real women for the park.
[wibw.com, 26 November 2019]

Waspi noun [C, U]
UK /ˈwɒspiː/ US /ˈwɑːspiː/
abbreviation for Women Against State Pension Inequality: an organization of women born in the 1950s whose pensions were affected by a government decision to raise the retirement age for women from 60 to 65, or one of the women thus affected

Responding to the Waspi campaign, Labour has unveiled an election pledge to compensate those affected. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the payments were to settle a “historical debt of honour” to the women born in the 1950s.
[thesun.co.uk, 24 November 2019]

tradwife noun [C]
/ˈtræd.waɪf/
a woman who does not work outside the home and who believes that her needs are less important than those of her husband

The tradwives have been keenly giving interviews about how they are the true feminists in choosing not to work, to which anyone with a modicum of knowledge about feminism would say: “We gave women the choice – that’s the point! Bake banana bread until the sun comes up, if it makes you happy!” Whether they are still the true feminists in suggesting that “husbands must always come first if you want a happy marriage”, as Pettitt has tweeted, feels more debatable.
[theguardian.com, 27 January 2020]

About new words

New words – 2 March 2020

George Pachantouris / Moment / Getty

flower miles noun [plural]
UK /ˈflaʊə.ˌmaɪlz/ US /ˈflaʊ.ɚ.ˌmaɪlz/
the distance between the place where flowers are grown and the place where they are sold to customers

We’re proud to say that our family of independent florists and botanical artisans work with sustainable flower farms worldwide. So whether you’re gifting stems to a loved one across the pond, or sending a feel-good arrangement to yourself, you can order safe in the knowledge that you’re helping cut down on flower miles by championing sustainable practice.
[floom.com, 1 March 2019]

ecological grief noun [U]
UK /ˌiː.kəˈlɒdʒ.ɪ.kᵊl.griːf/ US /ˌiː.kəˈlɑːdʒ.ɪ.kᵊl.griːf/
a feeling of great sadness caused by the effects of the climate emergency

The sense of helplessness is very prevalent – the feeling that the scale of our environmental crisis is so large that as individuals we can’t intervene. And I think that’s actually one of the really powerful mobilising potentials of ecological grief – it’s driving action and anger; climate marches.
[theguardian.com, 12 January 2020]

cli-fi noun [U]
/ˈklaɪ.faɪ/
books, movies etc. about bad events that occur because of climate change, such as wildfires and droughts

“Climate change needs stories, and readers need them to be told,” he said. “There are figures, statistics, but these don’t really say anything. Cli-fi makes people more aware of the situation.”
[phys.org/news, 15 November 2019]

About new words

New words – 24 February 2020

Dwight Eschliman / Stone / Getty Images Plus

food desert noun [C]
UK /ˌfuːd ˈdez.ət/ US /ˌfuːd ˈdez.ɚt/
an area where there is little or no access to healthy food

A widely held theory maintains that those who live in food deserts are forced to shop at local convenience stores, where it’s hard to find healthy groceries. A proposed solution is to advocate for the opening of supermarkets in these neighborhoods, which are thought to encourage better eating.
[www.nyu.edu, 10 December 2019]

food insecurity noun [U]
UK /ˈfuːd ˌɪn.sɪˈkjʊə.rə.ti/ US /ˈfuːd ˌɪn.səˈkjʊr.ə.t̬i/
the state of not being able to afford to buy enough food to stay healthy

The government is to introduce an official measure of how often low-income families across the UK skip meals or go hungry because they cannot afford to buy enough food, the Guardian can reveal. A national index of food insecurity is to be incorporated into an established UK-wide annual survey run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that monitors household incomes and living standards.
[www.theguardian.com, 27 February 2019]

social supermarket noun [C]
UK /ˌsəʊ.ʃᵊl ˈsuː.pəˌmɑː.kɪt/ US /ˌsoʊ.ʃᵊl ˈsuː.pɚˌmɑːr.kɪt/
a place where food is sold at very low prices to people who do not have enough money to buy it in other shops

A ‘social supermarket’ has opened offering a week’s worth of shopping for just £3 to Britons who struggle to feed themselves and their families. The food, worth between £15 and £25, is donated and … it helps those struggling financially to put food on their tables, serving so many people that it has been forced to open an extra day.
[mirror.co.uk, 14 January 2019]

About new words

New words – 17 February 2020

OcusFocus / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

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

New words – 10 February 2020

artiemedvedev / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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

New words – 3 February 2020

Petra Herr / EyeEm / Getty Images

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

New words – 27 January 2020

Spiderstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

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

New words – 20 January 2020

georgeclerk / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

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

New words – 13 January 2020

SERGII IAREMENKO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

frozen robot syndrome noun [U]
UK /ˌfrəʊ.zᵊn.ˈrəʊ.bɒt.sɪn.drəʊm/ US /ˌfroʊ.zᵊn.ˈroʊ.bɑːt.sɪn.droʊm/
the situation that occurs when a driverless car senses an obstacle in the road and stops suddenly

A recent investigation by the Law Commission has revealed driverless motors could be stopped in its tracks [sic] by “frozen robot syndrome”. The concerning possibility would occur when the vehicle freezes in the presence of obstacles on the road, such as leaves, plastic bags or even seagulls. Software developers consulted as a part of the report even warned that unexpected weather, such as heavy snow, could cause a widespread traffic disruption.
[The Sun, 16 October 2019]

quantum supremacy noun [U]
UK /ˌkwɒn.təm.suːˈprem.ə.si/ US /ˌkwɑːn.t̬əm.suːˈprem.ə.si/
the situation where a quantum computer (= a computer that works by using the principles of quantum mechanics) is able to solve a problem that a conventional computer cannot

But it is important to note that it is also only a milestone: the real journey is much longer, and there is an awful lot left to do. Scientists are excited about the possibility of achieving quantum supremacy because of what it means about the process of creating really useful quantum computers, not necessarily as an end in itself.
[independent.co.uk, 23 October 2019]

techno-optimism noun [U]
UK /ˌtek.nəʊ.ˈɒp.tɪ.mɪ.zəm/ US /ˌtek.noʊ.’ɑːp.tə.mɪ.zəm/
the belief that technology changes the world for the better

For decades, leading voices in industry and government had subscribed to a prevailing ethos: techno-optimism. According to this notion, technological progress would ineluctably benefit humanity … Newfound access, connectivity, and freedom of expression were not only viewed as profoundly transformative, but inherently good.
[wired.com, 18 September 2019]

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