man lifting his hands up and smiling as money falls around him

If I had a million dollars: Using conditionals (1)

man lifting his hands up and smiling as money falls around him
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

We use conditional sentences to talk about what will, might or could happen in various circumstances. There are three main conditionals which we call first, second and third. This post is intended as a brief reminder of how we choose which conditionals to use, and how we form them. Continue reading “If I had a million dollars: Using conditionals (1)”

woman sitting in a library reading a book and writing notes

Learning by heart and cramming (Learning words)

woman sitting in a library reading a book and writing notes
airdone/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

Each year in January, the Education World Forum brings together delegates from all over the world to discuss the future of education. To mark this important annual event, we thought we’d take a look at some useful words related to learning. Continue reading “Learning by heart and cramming (Learning words)”

a child dressed as a detective using a magnifying glass to examine footprints

Conclusive or anecdotal? Talking about evidence and proof.

a child dressed as a detective using a magnifying glass to examine footprints
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by Liz Walter

The English philosopher George Henry Lewes said ‘We must not assume that which is incapable of proof.’ Certainly, proof and evidence have an important role in many areas of our lives, so it is not surprising that there is a lot of vocabulary related to these concepts. Continue reading “Conclusive or anecdotal? Talking about evidence and proof.”

two girls in martial arts clothing holding a trophy and cheering

Going from strength to strength (The language of success, Part 3)

two girls in martial arts clothing holding a trophy and cheering
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by Kate Woodford

In previous posts in this thread, we looked at nouns, verbs and phrasal verbs meaning ‘success’ and ‘succeed’. In this post, we focus on idioms in this area. Continue reading “Going from strength to strength (The language of success, Part 3)”

young woman taking selfie with family

Siblings and in-laws: talking about family relationships

young woman taking selfie with family
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by Liz Walter

Family is important to most cultures at this time of year, so this post looks at the way we describe family relationships. I’m going to assume that you already know the basic family words such as aunt, grandmother, cousin and nephew and concentrate on some more interesting terms. Continue reading “Siblings and in-laws: talking about family relationships”

two men having a conversation in a room decorated with soft furnishings, plants and books

New words – 20 December 2021

two men having a conversation in a room decorated with soft furnishings, plants and books
Westend61 / Getty

resimercial adjective
UK /ˌrez.ɪ.ˈmɜː.ʃᵊl/ US /ˌrez.ə.ˈmɝː.ʃᵊl/
A resimercial office combines elements of “residential” and “commercial”, with comfortable furniture and design that makes it look more like a room in a home.

Remote work has been extremely stressful for many people but others have grown accustomed to certain domestic comforts … An office-furniture dealer told me that some employers are aware of this. “How do we bridge that gap [and] bring people back to the office? Maybe if we design it in a way that is more resimercial, more homey, they’ll feel a little bit more comfortable in coming back and using the space,” he said.
[theatlantic.com, 21 September 2021]

broken plan adjective
UK /ˌbrəʊ.kᵊn.ˈplæn/ US /ˌbroʊ.kᵊn.ˈplæn/
A broken plan room or space is divided into smaller areas for different activities.

For years the trend of open plan living has reigned supreme, yet a new contender is entering the ring – broken plan living. A twist on open plan, broken plan retains that sense of openness, while also offering more privacy and cosy nooks. It’s a chance to get creative with your home, allowing you to play with shelves, partitions, and even half walls … You don’t need to undertake a massive renovation project to achieve a broken plan space. If you already enjoy an open layout, but you want to divide up space, get creative with your furniture.
[resi.co.uk, 11 March 2021]

probiotic architecture noun [U]
UK /ˌprəʊ.baɪˈɒt.ɪk.ˈɑː.kɪ.tek.tʃəʳ/ US /ˌproʊ.baɪˈɑː.t̬ɪk.ˈɑːr.kə.tek.tʃɚ/
the practice of designing and making buildings that can host certain types of bacteria that help keep people healthy

Richard Beckett is a researcher working in bio-augmented design … His vision is to create buildings which – like the human body – could allow specific microbial communities (also known as ‘the microbiome’) to grow on them and in turn help us to fight infectious disease … He calls the concept “probiotic architecture”. “These indoor microbiomes can influence our health,” says Richard, “and I’m interested in how we might design buildings and their microbiomes to make buildings healthy and more resilient.”
[ribaj.com, 19 January 2021]

About new words

smiling young woman showing A+ test results to the camera

Smashing it and scraping through (The language of success, Part 2)

smiling young woman showing A+ test results to the camera
SDI Productions/E+/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

In the first of our ‘success’ posts, we looked mainly at nouns in this area (Triumphs and success stories). Today, we’re focusing on verbs and phrasal verbs that mean ‘succeed’ and, as ever, looking at the important differences in meaning between them. Continue reading “Smashing it and scraping through (The language of success, Part 2)”

a metal statuette of the personification of justice: a blindfolded woman holding scales and a sword

Fundamental and inalienable rights

a metal statuette of the personification of justice: a blindfolded woman holding scales and a sword
SimpleImages/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Human Rights Day is celebrated internationally on December 10th. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document which describes the rights (= things that you are allowed by law) of all human beings. To mark this very important date, we’re looking at the way the noun ‘right’ is used and the words that often come with it. Continue reading “Fundamental and inalienable rights”

a man wearing a tuxedo and holding a trophy, with stage lights in background

Triumphs and success stories (The language of success, Part 1)

a man wearing a tuxedo and holding a trophy, with stage lights in background
Hill Street Studios/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

We like positive posts on the About words blog, so this week we’re looking at language connected with success. As there are so many useful words and phrases in this area this post, focusing mainly on nouns, is the first of three. As ever, we’ll look at the most frequent and useful words and phrases. Continue reading “Triumphs and success stories (The language of success, Part 1)”

a group of five young adults laughing and celebrating in a shower of colourful confetti

New words – 29 November 2021

a group of five young adults laughing and celebrating in a shower of colourful confetti
AleksandarNakic / E+ / Getty

business shower noun [C]
UK /ˈbɪz.nɪsˌʃaʊəʳ/ US /ˈbɪz.nɪsˌʃaʊ.ɚ/
a party held to celebrate a new start-up business, usually before its official launch

Some business showers include games, decorations and catering. Some founders even ask for gifts, providing links to business registry websites that have also become popular. Business showers generally differ from launch parties because they occur at the very early stages of a start-up, sometimes when the business is still just gestating as an idea.
[nytimes.com, 15 July 2021]

flippening noun [S]
/ˈflɪp.ᵊn.ɪŋ/
The flippening is an event, expected to take place in the near future, when ethereum will overtake bitcoin as the most valuable cryptocurrency.

For those unaware, the flippening is a hypothetical event in which ETH overtakes Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization. While this hasn’t happened yet, it may not be too far off … ETH is already the top crypto held on the platform in terms of U.S. dollar amount. That could be a sign that the flippening is starting.
[nasdaq.com, 8 July 2021]

emoticonomy noun [U]
UK /ɪ,məʊt.iˈkɒn.ə.mi/ US /ɪ,moʊt.iˈkɑː.nə.mi/
an economic system that is based on the activities people and businesses engage in to make the world a better and happier place

But arguing that capitalism should be unfettered and amoral is itself a political position. No business is without its ideals in the new “emoticonomy”. This is not a circumstance created accidentally by political parties, activists or workers, but deliberately, by businesses. It has been going on for some time.
[newstatesman.com, 20 October 2021]

About new words