A foil wrapped heart on a pink background with lots of hearts.

A heart of gold or a heart of stone? (‘Heart’ senses and phrases, Part 1)

A foil wrapped heart on a pink background with lots of hearts.
Jennifer A Smith/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

The word ‘heart’ is used a tremendous lot in English. As you might imagine, it’s often used to say things about love and emotions, but it has other less predictable meanings too. In this three-part post, I’ll look at the way we use this word, focusing on its various senses and a range of ‘heart’ idioms and phrases. As ever, I’ll present language that is current and useful. Continue reading “A heart of gold or a heart of stone? (‘Heart’ senses and phrases, Part 1)”

a woman's manicured hands stroking soft, dark blue velvet cloth

Tender, velvety or abrasive? Talking about textures (1)

a woman's manicured hands stroking soft, dark blue velvet cloth
Maryna Terletska/Moment/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

Today’s post focuses on the texture of things: in other words, the way they feel. Continue reading “Tender, velvety or abrasive? Talking about textures (1)”

close-up image of a man in business clothes fastening his belt

Tightening your belt and wearing the trousers (Clothes idioms, Part 2)

close-up image of a man in business clothes fastening his belt
GSO Images/The Image Bank/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

In Part 1 of this post, we looked at English idioms containing words for items of clothing that cover the top half of the body. This week, we’re working our way down the body with idioms that include words such as ‘belt’, ‘trousers’ and ‘shoe’. (Footwear features in a surprising number of current idioms!) Continue reading “Tightening your belt and wearing the trousers (Clothes idioms, Part 2)”

stylised image of a young woman looking over her shoulder at an open door

Keeping an open mind and opening your heart: useful phrases with ‘open’

stylised image of a young woman looking over her shoulder at an open door
Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

In today’s post, I’m going to look at a range of phrases that contain the word ‘open’. There are a lot of them, and you may be able to think of more, but I’ve picked out ones I think will be useful to most English learners. Continue reading “Keeping an open mind and opening your heart: useful phrases with ‘open’”

a young woman looking frustrated as she reads a message on her mobile phone

New words – 18 July 2022

nicoletaionescu / iStock / Getty Images Plus

fexting noun [U]
/ˈfekst.ɪŋ/
the act of fighting with someone by exchanging text messages rather than speaking on the phone or in person

If you’re the first lady, then having an argument with the US president via text message (or “fexting”, as Jill Biden called it) might keep marital disputes private from the Secret Service, but relationship experts have warned it could make things worse.
[theguardian.com, 3 June 2022]

algospeak noun [U]
UK /ˈæl.gəʊ.spiːk/ US /ˈæl.goʊ.spiːk/
words used on social media posts as a way of avoiding using other words that algorithms will identify as unsuitable or inappropriate

“Algospeak” is becoming increasingly common across the Internet as people seek to bypass content moderation filters on social media platforms … Algospeak refers to code words or turns of phrase users have adopted in an effort to create a brand-safe lexicon that will avoid getting their posts removed or down-ranked by content moderation systems. For instance, in many online videos, it’s common to say “unalive” rather than “dead.”
[washingtonpost.com, 8 April 2022]

crypto mugging noun [C]
UK /ˈkrɪp.təʊ ˌmʌg.ɪŋ/ US /ˈkrɪp.toʊ ˌmʌg.ɪŋ/
the illegal activity of attacking someone in order to steal their mobile phone and use it to take control of their cryptocurrency

Police have warned digital asset investors of a wave of “crypto muggings” in London, following a series of crime reports. While cybercrime usually takes place online, London police have revealed that criminals are stealing mobile phones on the street specifically to steal cryptoassets such as Bitcoin.
[uktech.news, 9 May 2022]

About new words

young man raising his straw hat and smiling at the camera

I take my hat off to you! (Clothes idioms, Part 1)

young man raising his straw hat and smiling at the cameraby Kate Woodford

English has a number of really useful, current idioms and phrases that feature items of clothes. This week we’ll start by looking at idioms with the word ‘hat’ and we’ll work our way down the body to ‘shirt’ idioms. In Part 2, we’ll consider idioms containing words for clothes that cover the bottom half of the body. Continue reading “I take my hat off to you! (Clothes idioms, Part 1)”

Boy in trouble for standing on table in class

Can we keep this civil? Polite ways to ask people to behave better

Boy in trouble for standing on table in class
Peter Cade/Stone/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

A reader of these blogs recently requested a post on phrases for keeping order in the classroom. While thinking about that, it occurred to me that there are several other situations in which people have to impose control on a group, for instance in a work meeting. The difficult part is knowing how to do that without being bossy or aggressive. This post, therefore, offers some polite phrases that both teachers and others could use. Continue reading “Can we keep this civil? Polite ways to ask people to behave better”

a trowel used to dig up gold coins from a hole in the ground

Digging up and getting wind of information (Finding information words and phrases)

a trowel used to dig up gold coins from a hole in the ground
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by Kate Woodford

I recently published a post on this blog about the language of looking for information (Probing and digging around). This related post looks at words and phrases that we use to talk about finding and getting information. Continue reading “Digging up and getting wind of information (Finding information words and phrases)”

a black dog digging a hole on a sandy beach

Probing and digging around (Searching for information)

a black dog digging a hole on a sandy beach
STasker/DigitalVision/GetttyImages

by Kate Woodford

I recently heard someone say that they had left no stone unturned in their search for information, meaning that they had done everything they possibly could to find it. I started thinking about the concept of trying to find out facts and the various words and phrases that we use to convey it. This post is the result of these musings. Continue reading “Probing and digging around (Searching for information)”

A little boy having fun swinging on a whale toy at the playground

A whale of a time: talking about enjoying yourself

A little boy having fun swinging on a whale toy at the playground
marcduf/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

I thought it would be nice to talk about something cheerful today, so this post is about having fun! Continue reading “A whale of a time: talking about enjoying yourself”