Wildfires and mid-term elections: a look back at 2018 in the US

Liz Walter


In this, the second of two year-end posts, I look at words associated with some major events and trends of 2018 from the perspective of the US. I’ve picked just six topics from an action-packed year, and I’ve tried to go for variety rather than simply importance, since the purpose of these posts is to provide useful vocabulary, not to report on the news or provide an opinion on it. Continue reading “Wildfires and mid-term elections: a look back at 2018 in the US”

Fussy eaters and healthy appetites (Words and phrases to describe the way we eat)


by Kate Woodford

Do you eat to live, or live to eat? If you’ve never heard this phrase before, someone who eats to live, eats only because they have to in order to carry on living. For this type of person, food is just fuel. Someone who lives to eat, on the other hand, regards food as the best part of living and is always looking forward to their next meal. I think it’s true to say that most of us fall somewhere between these two extremes! Continue reading “Fussy eaters and healthy appetites (Words and phrases to describe the way we eat)”

The People’s Word of 2018

From New York to London to Tokyo, fans of the online Cambridge Dictionary have been voting for the word that they believe best sums up the year 2018. Our editors chose a shortlist of four words from this year’s new additions by looking at which ones were most popular and most relevant to 2018, and then asked you – our blog readers and social media followers – to vote.

The votes have now been counted and the People’s Word of 2018 has been decided. The word that received the most votes is:

nomophobia noun [U]

fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it

The Cambridge Dictionary is one of the most popular online dictionaries in the world, and you, our users, are part of a very smart and enthusiastic global community using our free resources. So we were eager to give you the opportunity to tell us which words out of the thousands of new words and definitions we add every year best reflected 2018’s trends and events.

Your choice, nomophobia, tells us that people around the world probably experience this type of anxiety enough that you recognized it needed a name! Like many modern coinages, nomophobia is what’s called a blend: a new word made up of syllables from two or more words, in this case ‘no mobile phone phobia.’

Of course nomophobia isn’t a scientific word; a true phobia (extreme fear of something) is different from anxiety (extreme worry). The word has actually been around a lot longer than you would think. The earliest known use was in 2008 – not by psychologists, but by YouGov researchers, in a report commissioned by the UK Post Office. It then began to appear in UK media and has since spread around the world. Having proved its staying power, it was added to the online Cambridge Dictionary earlier this year.

Other words on the shortlist for the People’s Word of 2018 were:

gender gap noun [C]

a difference between the way men and women are treated in society, or between what men and women do and achieve

ecocide noun [U]

destruction of the natural environment of an area, or very great damage to it

no-platforming noun [U]

the practice of refusing someone an opportunity to make their ideas or beliefs known publicly, because you think these beliefs are dangerous or unacceptable

For more information about how the Cambridge Dictionary editors decide which new words to add to the online dictionary, take a look at the two-minute animation on our YouTube channel.

A royal wedding and an attempted murder: a look back at 2018 in the UK

Sean Gladwell/Moment/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

As 2018 draws to a close, I thought it would be interesting to look at just a few of the year’s major events. This post takes a UK perspective; my next one will cover events in the USA. I should make it clear that the purpose of this post is to focus on vocabulary – much as I might like to, I am not expressing any personal opinions about things that have happened! Continue reading “A royal wedding and an attempted murder: a look back at 2018 in the UK”

New words – 26 November 2018

Ariel Skelley / DigitalVision / Getty

daycation noun [C]
a day trip, usually to a hotel or similar resort, where you use the facilities for the day then go home at night

As the name implies, a daycation is about getting away from your hectic life and enjoying all the amenities of a real vacation without all the extra travel or expenses. The service is growing in popularity in cities like Miami where luxury pools and spas are a staple at just about every beachside hotel.
[www.porthole.com, 17 May 2018] Continue reading “New words – 26 November 2018”

You look like a million dollars! (Describing appearances)

Choose what makes you happyby Kate Woodford

Describing other people’s appearances is something most of us do now and then. We might do it in order to ask who someone is: ‘Who was the very smart guy in the blue suit?’ Sometimes we describe how other people look simply because we find it interesting: ‘Sophie always looks so elegant – not a hair out of place!’ If you’d like to expand your vocabulary for describing how people look, read on! Continue reading “You look like a million dollars! (Describing appearances)”

London, Leicester and Lincoln: Pronouncing English place names

travel destination
kwanisik/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

Place names are amongst the hardest words in English to pronounce. Even people with English as a first language are often unable to guess the pronunciation of an unfamiliar place. I have restricted myself to major English towns and cities because there simply isn’t enough space in one post to venture more widely, but do let me know if you’d like posts on the pronunciation of other major place names.

I want to start with the capital, London, because many learners of English pronounce the two ‘o’ sounds here to rhyme with the ‘o’ in ‘dog’. However, the correct pronunciation is /ˈlʌn.dən/. The first ‘o’ rhymes with the ‘u’ in ‘fun’ and the second one is almost omitted: if you simply try to pronounce ‘dn’ at the end, it will sound correct. Continue reading “London, Leicester and Lincoln: Pronouncing English place names”

People’s Word of 2018: Cast your vote!

The team at Cambridge Dictionary have shortlisted four words that were added to the dictionary this year, and we would like YOU to tell us which of these words best sums up 2018.

There are over 100,000 words and meanings in the Cambridge Dictionary, but we are constantly adding to these, with almost 2,000 new words and updated definitions every year.

The four words we have shortlisted for the People’s Word of 2018 are: Continue reading “People’s Word of 2018: Cast your vote!”

Painstaking work and uphill battles (Words and phrases relating to effort)

John Lund/Blend Images/Getty

by Kate Woodford

We recently shared a post on words meaning ‘difficult’. This week we look at a related area of the language – words and phrases that we use to describe tasks and activities that require a lot of effort.

Let’s start with expressions that we use for activities that require mainly physical effort. A strenuous activity requires the body to work hard: He was advised not to do strenuous exercise for a few days. Continue reading “Painstaking work and uphill battles (Words and phrases relating to effort)”

It’s a piece of cake! Words and phrases to describe things that are easy.

images by Tang Ming Tung/Moment/Getty

by Liz Walter

One of the first idioms that students of English usually learn is a piece of cake – maybe because it is such a strong image. We use it to describe things that are easy to do: Getting into the building was a piece of cake – I simply walked through the open door. This post looks at several other words and phrases for easy things.

The phrases child’s play and a walk in the park are used in a similar way: Installing the software was child’s play for Marcus. She’s been running marathons for years, so a 5k run is a walk in the park for her. We can also say that something is a breeze or (more informally, in UK English) a doddle: Cleaning the floors is a doddle with one of these machines. If someone breezes through an activity, they accomplish it easily: She seemed to breeze through her exams. Continue reading “It’s a piece of cake! Words and phrases to describe things that are easy.”