I can’t hear myself think: more interesting ways of saying ‘noisy’

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

At the beginning of the month I wrote about words and phrases connected with being quiet. In this post, I’ll be looking at the opposite: how to talk about noise.

Continue reading “I can’t hear myself think: more interesting ways of saying ‘noisy’”

Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2020

Our Word of the Year 2020 is… quarantine. Our data shows it was one of the most highly searched words on the Cambridge Dictionary this year.

Quarantine was the only word to rank in the top five for both search spikes  and overall views (more than 183,000 by early November), with the largest spike in searches (28,545) seen the week of 18-24 March, when many countries around the world went into lockdown as a result of COVID-19. Continue reading “Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2020”

New words – 23 November 2020


genetic scissors noun [plural]
UK /dʒəˈnet.ɪk.ˈsɪz.əz/ US /dʒəˈnet̬.ɪk.ˈsɪz.ɚz/
a method of cutting the DNA in a cell so that it can be repaired

Researchers need to modify genes in cells if they are to find out about life’s inner workings. This used to be time-consuming, difficult and sometimes impossible work. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, it is now possible to change the code of life over the course of a few weeks.
[nobelprize.org, 7 October 2020]

lyfe noun [U]
/laɪf/, /lɔɪf/
any form of life, including but not limited to the human, animal and plant life we are aware of

“Lyfe” is a recent scientific coinage defined as any system that combines four processes: “dissipation, autocatalysis, homeostasis, and learning”. Life in the familiar sense is merely “the instance of lyfe that we are familiar with on Earth”, but other much weirder types might exist.
[www.theguardian.com, 6 August 2020]

gigafactory noun [C]
a very large factory where batteries for electric vehicles are made

A £1.2bn project to build Britain’s first ‘gigafactory’ to supply electric batteries for the UK car industry could unravel without changes to UK state aid rules, according to the company’s chief executive.
[telegraph.co.uk, 4 October 2020]

About new words

At the crack of dawn: Idioms used for speaking about time

Tim Robberts/Stone/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

During the course of a day, we make repeated references to time, whether we’re worrying about being late for an appointment or expressing surprise at how quickly something has happened. Any concept that we frequently convey is likely to have idioms associated with it. This post looks at those idioms, as always, focusing on phrases that are frequent and current.

Continue reading “At the crack of dawn: Idioms used for speaking about time”

You could hear a pin drop: more interesting ways of saying ‘quiet’

Sam Edwards/OJO Images/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Quiet is a word that English students learn early in their studies. Today we are going to look at some more specific and subtle ways of talking about quietness and silence.

Continue reading “You could hear a pin drop: more interesting ways of saying ‘quiet’”

Extrovert or introvert? (Describing character, part 4)

Francesco Carta fotografo/Moment/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

Today’s post is the latest in a thread dedicated to describing people’s personalities. We’ve previously looked at adjectives and phrases for people who are relaxed and happy (Part 3), kind and mean (Part 2), and hard-working and lazy (Part 1). Today we focus on words and phrases meaning ‘sociable’ and ‘shy’.

Continue reading “Extrovert or introvert? (Describing character, part 4)”

It makes my flesh crawl: idioms for Halloween

Martin Deja/Moment/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

The evening of October 31st usually sees hordes of children dressed up as ghosts, skeletons or other scary figures, excitedly collecting mountains of sweets on their ‘trick-or-treat’ expeditions. Covid-19 has paused many of these activities, but I hope you will still enjoy this post on spooky idioms! Continue reading “It makes my flesh crawl: idioms for Halloween”

The thing is … (Useful conversational phrases with ‘thing’)

Luis Alvarez/DigitalVision/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

‘Thing’ may not seem the most exciting word to base a blog post on, but it features in a very large number of informal expressions that are often used in conversation. If you’re interested in improving your English conversation, you might want to spend ten minutes reading this post!

Continue reading “The thing is … (Useful conversational phrases with ‘thing’)”

Between you, me and the gatepost: idioms connected with secrets

Images By Tang Ming Tung/Stone/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Everyone has secrets, and if someone confides their secret to you, that is a real sign of trust. Conversely, giving away someone’s secret is an act that can range from being a minor annoyance to a friendship-breaking betrayal. No wonder, then, that there are so many colourful and widely-used idioms and phrases that refer to this topic.

Continue reading “Between you, me and the gatepost: idioms connected with secrets”

Soft spots and big guns (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)

Sean Gladwell/Moment/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

The idioms and expressions in today’s post come from a range of national newspapers that were published on the same day. We write a post on phrases used in newspapers every couple of months in order to give you a regular supply of contemporary, frequently used English expressions. Continue reading “Soft spots and big guns (Idioms and phrases in newspapers)”