blurred photograph of cars and an ambulance driving through a busy city

The rumble of traffic and the wailing of sirens (Sounds, Part 1)

blurred photograph of cars and an ambulance driving through a busy city
Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Have you ever wanted to describe a sound that you heard but found you didn’t have quite the right word for it? Then read on, because this post (and Parts 2 and 3) will provide you with a range of specific words and phrases to refer to the sounds we hear in our daily life. We’ll start by looking at noises that we hear in an urban environment. As you might imagine, many relate to vehicles. Continue reading “The rumble of traffic and the wailing of sirens (Sounds, Part 1)”

One blue and one red wooden figurine leaning into each other under speech bubbles on white surface, purple background

She’s a piece of work: talking about people you don’t like (1)

One blue and one red wooden figurine leaning into each other under speech bubbles on white surface, purple background
PM Images/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

Looking at tweets about a UK politician recently, I was struck by how many colourful terms we have for insulting people, so I thought that would be a good topic for my next couple of posts! Continue reading “She’s a piece of work: talking about people you don’t like (1)”

a smiling young man holding a red balloon shaped like a heart

Pouring your heart out and bottling it up (Showing and not showing emotions, Part 2)

a smiling young man holding a red balloon shaped like a heart
Westend61/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

This is the second of two posts on the theme of showing and not showing emotions. The words and phrases in Part 1 focused on adjectives and verbs. Today’s post looks at idioms and phrasal verbs in this area. Continue reading “Pouring your heart out and bottling it up (Showing and not showing emotions, Part 2)”

a woman standing alone in a forest with her arms outstretched

New words – 21 February 2022

a woman standing alone in a forest with her arms outstretched
Adrià Escobet Montalban / EyeEm / Getty

nature prescription noun [C, U]
UK /ˌneɪ.tʃə prɪˈskrɪp.ʃᵊn/ US /ˌneɪ.tʃɚ prɪˈskrɪp.ʃᵊn/
an instruction from a doctor to a patient to engage with nature and spend time outdoors as a way of helping to treat physical and mental illnesses without the use of medication

Slowing down to smell the roses is now recognised by Scottish GPs as a potent remedy for conditions that range from obesity and diabetes to dementia and depression. The people behind a “nature prescription” pilot scheme in Edinburgh say their experiment has been so successful it should be implemented nationwide. In the project NHS medics worked with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland to encourage patients to connect with nature.
[thetimes.co.uk, 16 January 2022]

flurona noun [U]
UK /ˌfluːˈrəʊ.nə/ US /ˌfluːˈroʊ.nə/
a name that describes the condition of being infected with flu and COVID-19 at the same time

Many people around the world kicked off 2022 by searching for more information about “flurona,” after Israel reported that two young pregnant women had tested positive for both the coronavirus and the flu … While the word is relatively new and rising in popularity, cases of flu and coronavirus co-infections are not. And flurona is not a distinct disease but refers to when a person has been infected with both viruses.
[washingtonpost.com, 6 January 2022]

space anaemia noun [U]
/ˌspeɪs əˈniː.mi.ə/
a medical condition experienced by some astronauts when they land on another planet in which their body does not make enough red blood cells

“Space anaemia is uncovered upon landing on a new planet and must be reversed otherwise symptoms of weakness, fatigue and low working capacity can endanger mission objectives,” [said] Guy Trudel, a rehabilitation physician and researcher … “The gravity at the new planet would impact the recovery from space anaemia. This is a consideration that we might have underestimated when it comes to colonising other planets,” he said.
[inews.co.uk, 14 January 2022]

About new words

potato milk (an off-white liquid) being poured from a glass bottle into a drinking glass, with whole potatoes in the background

Stress busters and potato milk (New entries in our dictionary)

potato milk (an off-white liquid) being poured from a glass bottle into a drinking glass, with whole potatoes in the background
Iryna Melnyk/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

This week’s blog post is a little different from the sort of posts that you’re used to reading here. Just for a change, we’re looking at some of the words and phrases that have recently been added to our online dictionary and seeing what common themes are reflected in these latest additions. We regularly add words to the Cambridge Dictionary to keep it up to date as the English language changes. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with our New Words posts, where we show you our research into words that have appeared in English very recently. Some of these words are only used for a short amount of time before being forgotten. Others become part of everyday language, and when our research shows that this has happened, we can consider adding them to the dictionary. This post looks at some of these, so if you want to learn about some recent additions to the Cambridge Dictionary, read on! Continue reading “Stress busters and potato milk (New entries in our dictionary)”

a young woman solving equations on a glass screen in a laboratory

Genes, molecules and momentum: talking about science

a young woman solving equations on a glass screen in a laboratory
PeopleImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

11 February is the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and, as a small contribution to this important topic, today’s post is all about science words. Of course, this is a vast field, but I have picked out a few key terms from the areas of biology, chemistry and physics, which I hope will be useful. Continue reading “Genes, molecules and momentum: talking about science”

a dog in a police harness

New words – 7 February 2022

a dog in a police harness
HowardOates / iStock / Getty Images Plus

digi-dog noun [C]
UK /ˈdɪdʒ.ɪ.dɒg/ US /ˈdɪdʒ.ɪ.dɑːg/
a dog trained by the police to use its sense of smell to find digital devices that have been used by criminals

Whether it’s a Sim card from a drug gang’s burner phone, a key fob for a getaway car, a terrorist’s mobile phone [or] a laptop in a fraud case … Jake and his fellow “digi-dogs” can sniff it out. “On every digital storage device there is a chemical that has a very specific scent,” explains the instructor, one of three dog handlers who have been spearheading the Met’s digi-dog training scheme.
[thetimes.co.uk, 12 December 2021]

shellfish hotel noun [C]
UK /ˈʃel.fɪʃ həʊˈtel/ US /ˈʃel.fɪʃ hoʊˈtel/
a place where shellfish that will be sold for food are kept in conditions that are as close as possible to the natural environment where they usually live

Not just a restaurant, Hackney’s The Sea, The Sea is also a seafood processing lab … On site are live lobster and crab, housed in a high-tech “shellfish hotel” made up of specialist filtration tanks that mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible, keeping these delicious decapods relaxed and serene.
[globetrender.com, 23 September 2021]

flockdown noun [U, C]
UK /ˈflɒk.daʊn/ US /ˈflɑːk.daʊn/
a period of time in which captive birds, especially chickens, must be kept indoors to stop avian flu from spreading

UK birds to enter “flockdown” in response to bird flu threat. UK-wide housing measures will be introduced to protect poultry and captive birds against avian influenza, the Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed.
[Farmers Guardian, 24 November 2021]

About new words

wooden fence with a sign reading 'Private Property: No Entry'

Unless you leave now… : Using conditionals (2)

wooden fence with a sign reading 'Private Property: No Entry'
Hiob/E+/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

My last post looked at the basic building blocks of first, second and third conditionals. This post gives a little bit more detail about common variations we can use. Continue reading “Unless you leave now… : Using conditionals (2)”

two women hugging each other and laughing

Express yourself! (Showing and not showing emotions, Part 1)

two women hugging each other and laughing
Flashpop/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

This week I’m looking at the language we use to describe how people express (or don’t express!) emotions. It’s an interesting area with a range of words and phrases so I’ll present the information in two parts, Part 1 and Part 2. Continue reading “Express yourself! (Showing and not showing emotions, Part 1)”

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)”