Off-colour and on the mend (Talking about health)

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by Kate Woodford

On one thread of this blog, we look at the phrases that people use in daily conversation. This week, we’re focusing on expressions that people use to talk about health – both their own health and that of their family and friends. We won’t be looking at individual symptoms. These were covered by my colleague, Liz Walter, in her post My leg hurts: Talking about illness. Instead, we’ll consider the phrases that people use in conversation to talk more generally about health.

Continue reading “Off-colour and on the mend (Talking about health)”

New words – 27 April 2020

laflor / iStock / Getty Images Plus

functional fitness noun [U]
/ˌfʌŋk.ʃᵊn.ᵊl.ˈfɪt.nəs/
physical exercises involving movements used to perform everyday tasks

Functional fitness has made trend lists for several years now, and 2020 is no exception. According to both canfitpro’s report and a worldwide survey by The American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Health & Fitness Journal, functional fitness will remain part of Canadians’ workout routines in the new year … Functional fitness makes it easier for people to carry out common tasks outside of the gym.
[globalnews.ca, 16 January 2020]

incidental fitness noun [U]
UK /ˌɪn.sɪˈden.tᵊl.ˈfɪt.nəs/ US /ˌɪn.sɪˈden.t̬ᵊl.ˈfɪt.nəs/
the condition of being physically strong and healthy as a result of being more active in one’s daily routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift

But if you really want to next-level your incidental fitness, you might want to think about swerving the bus, car or train on your morning commute in favour of your bike. The health rewards are astonishing.
[Metro, 22 November 2019]

HIIPA noun [U]
/ˈhiːpə/
abbreviation for high-intensity incidental physical activity: physical activity that is done as part of one’s normal daily life and not as part of an exercise or fitness programme

Integrating more HIIPA-style movements—such as adopting a brisker walking pace, carrying heavier loads like laundry or groceries up stairs, and vigorously scrubbing out your fridge—may help cut down on the amount of more structured workouts you need to do for the same cardio results. They can also bridge the gap on weeks where your training might be a little more sparse than usual, too.
[runnersworld.com, 4 March 2019]

About new words

No smoke without fire: proverbs in English (3)

mrPliskin/E+/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

I have recently written two posts about proverbs, but there are so many more incredibly useful and common ones, I decided to write one more! It is difficult to choose from a long list of lovely, colourful phrases, but I believe that every reasonably advanced learner of English needs to know the ones that follow.

Continue reading “No smoke without fire: proverbs in English (3)”

New words – 20 April 2020

Philip Lee Harvey / Cultura / Getty Images

fem den noun [C]
/ˈfem.den/
a room in a house, or a small building near a house, where a woman can go to get away from the other people in the house and do the things she wants to do

Additionally, this property includes double centralized kitchens both complete with gas cooktops, range hoods and island bench, adjoining to the rear of the property that leads out to your own courtyard with storage shed that could be transformed into a fem den or man cave, as well as a right of way car space.
[raywhitebrunswick.com.au, 16 March 2019]

granny pod noun [C]
UK /ˈgræn.i.ˌpɒd/ US /ˈgræn.i ˌpɑːd/
a very small house, built in the garden of a relative’s house, where an old person lives

Think of granny pods as guest houses with lots of high-tech medical extras. MEDCottages are pre-fabricated and designed to be installed in the backyard behind the main home (zoning laws permitting, of course).
[www.countryliving.com, 13 December 2018]

collab house noun [C]
/ˌkəˈlæb.haʊs/
a large house in which people who work in social media live and work together

So-called collab houses, also known as content houses, are an established tradition in the influencer world. Over the last five years they have formed a network of hubs across Los Angeles. In 2014 members of an early collab channel called Our Second Life lived and worked together in what they called the 02L Mansion. The next year, nearly all the top talent on Vine moved into a large apartment complex at 1600 Vine Street.
[New York Times, 3 January 2020]

About new words

Heads-ups and wake-up calls! (The language of warnings)

PM Images/Stone/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

Today, we’re looking at words and phrases that are used to tell people about possible dangers or problems. Let’s start with immediate, physical danger. You might shout or say Look out!, Watch out! or (UK) Mind out! to warn someone that they are in danger: Look out! There’s a car coming! / Watch out! You nearly hit that bike! / Mind out! You nearly banged your head!

Continue reading “Heads-ups and wake-up calls! (The language of warnings)”

New words – 13 April 2020


seksan Mongkhonkhamsao / moment / Getty

fearware noun [U]
UK /ˈfɪə.weəʳ/ US /ˈfɪr.wer/
a type of cyber attack that exploits an existing sense of fear among people and encourages them to click on a link that will harm their computer

Cyber criminals are exploiting fears surrounding the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic to spread dangerous malware and hack government computer systems. Security experts have labelled the new trend “fearware”, warning that victims may be more susceptible to be tricked or scammed during times of global uncertainty.
[independent.co.uk, 14 March 2020]

xenobot noun [C]
UK /ˈzen.ə.bɒt/ US /ˈzen.ə.bɑːt/
a type of very small robot that can move independently, created from living cells

This week scientists announced that they had created the first living robots by building machines using stem cells taken from African frogs. So far they cannot do anything useful, such as delivering Amazon packages, but they do glory in a new name: “xenobots”.
[theguardian.com, 16 January 2020]

bracelet of silence noun [C]
/ˌbreɪ.slət.əv.ˈsaɪ.ləns/
a device worn around the wrist that prevents smart devices from listening to the conversations of the person wearing it

How worried are you about technology listening to your conversations? Have you ever had an experience that made you think your phone, computer or smart home device was eavesdropping on you? This “bracelet of silence,” developed by two computer science professors and an assistant professor, emits ultrasonic signals when activated, preventing nearby microphones from listening to the wearer’s conversations.
[nytimes.com, 5 March 2020]

About new words

Same old same old: talking about things that don’t change

Art Wolfe/Mint Images RF/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Whilst writing about proverbs (see previous posts), I came across the phrase ‘A leopard doesn’t change its spots’, which means that a bad person never changes their character. That set me thinking about other ways of talking about people or things that don’t change.

Continue reading “Same old same old: talking about things that don’t change”

New words – 6 April 2020

Alan Hopps / Moment / Getty

mob grazing noun [U]
UK /ˌmɒb.ˈɡreɪ.zɪŋ/ US /ˌmɑːb.ˈɡreɪ.zɪŋ/
a type of farming that involves moving a large number of animals into a small area of land for a very short time before moving them to a new area and leaving the grass to recover

Chapman, who manages 300 cattle at East Hall Farm in Hertfordshire, says mob grazing has led to hugely improved soil, healthier cattle and lower costs due to an extended grazing period, reduced inputs and lower vet bills. “It’s been a transformation,” he says.
[soilassociation.org, 12 June 2018]

sandscaping noun [U]
/ˈsænd.skeɪpɪŋ/
the activity of adding a large amount of sand to an existing beach to try to prevent or reduce the erosion of the coastline

Sand added to a stretch of north Norfolk beach in a recent £19m sandscaping project has been washed away in just one month. Pictures show a blunt drop in the sand levels at Walcott and Bacton, where the UK’s first sandscaping project took place.
[Eastern Daily Press, 1 October 2019]

regenerative agriculture noun [U]
UK /rɪˈdʒen.ə.rə.tɪv.ˈæg.rɪ.kʌl.tʃəʳ/ US /rɪˈdʒen.ə.rə.t̬ɪv.ˈæg.rə.kʌl.tʃɚ/
a method of farming that focuses on improving and maintaining the health of the soil

Regenerative agriculture practices increase soil biodiversity and organic matter, leading to more resilient soils that can better withstand climate change impacts like flooding and drought … Importantly, regenerative agriculture practices also help us fight the climate crisis by pulling carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the ground.
[climaterealityproject.org, 2 July 2019]

About new words

Making the best of it (dealing with life during the coronavirus pandemic)

Flashpop/Stone/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

All over the world, people are adjusting to a new way of living as a result of COVID-19. At the time of writing, around a third of the world is on lockdown, permitted to leave home only for such reasons as food and medicine shopping. Even those of us who are lucky enough to be well and virus-free may be finding the sudden changes to our lifestyles challenging. With this in mind, I thought we’d focus on words and phrases around the theme of dealing with difficult situations.

Continue reading “Making the best of it (dealing with life during the coronavirus pandemic)”

New words – 30 March 2020

SEAN GLADWELL / Moment / Getty

blue space noun [U]
/ˌbluː.ˈspeɪs/
any body of water or the area around it

The benefits of “blue space” – the sea and coastline, but also rivers, lakes, canals, waterfalls, even fountains – are less well publicised, yet the science has been consistent for at least a decade: being by water is good for body and mind.
[theguardian.com, 3 November 2019]

blue mind noun [U]
/ˌbluː.ˈmaɪnd/
a calm state of mind caused by being close to water, for example when looking at the ocean or swimming

According to scientific studies, water has a calming effect on our brains. Author and Marine Biologist Wallace Nichols spoke to our Robert Santos about “blue mind” and the science of how being in close proximity to water – be it the ocean, a lake, or a river – can lower stress and improve our health.
[news.mongabay.com, 13 February 2020]

blue acceleration noun [U]
/ˌbluː.əkˌsel.əˈreɪ.ʃən/
the increase in humans’ use of resources found in the world’s seas and oceans

A new study highlights a sharp uptick in marine activity and defines the “blue acceleration” as the unprecedented rush for food, material and space taking place in the ocean.
[news.mongabay.com, 13 February 2020]

About new words