New words – 15 March 2021

Kubra Cavus / E+ / Getty

computer doping noun [U]
UK /kəmˈpjuː.tə.ˈdəʊ.pɪŋ/ US /kəmˈpjuː.t̬ɚ.ˈdoʊ.pɪŋ/
the act of cheating in a game of chess, backgammon, etc., by using a computer program to find out the best move to make

Fide’s general director, Emil Sutovsky, described it as “a huge topic I work on dozens of hours each week”, and its president, Arkady Dvorkovich, said “computer doping” was a “real plague”. At the heart of the problem are programmes or apps that can rapidly calculate near-perfect moves in any situation.
[, 16 October 2020]

metaverse noun [U]
UK /ˈmet.ə.vɜːs/ US /ˈmet̬.ə.vɝːs/
a shared online space where people, represented by avatars, can take part in many different activities, using virtual reality and augmented reality technology

To picture the metaverse, then, think of a massive virtual realm. One constantly buzzing with activity, where people can go whenever they want, and do whatever they want. They can remotely hang out with friends, create art, consume art, play games and shop. They can visit other realms too, and their identities stay with them as they travel.
[, 21 July 2020]

dragging site noun [C]
an online platform whose members observe the behaviour of someone in the public eye and criticize their actions very severely

During the making of the BBC Radio 4 programme, Me and My Trolls, about dragging site culture, I asked a psychologist and leading expert in cyberstalking to take a look at the site. In just a few hours, she identified incidences of hate speech, harassment and classic behaviours of stalkers and other abusers. And finally, the law may agree with her that dragging sites cross the line.
[, 5 October 2020]

About new words

Hitting it off and befriending people (Words for making friends)

Nick David/Stone/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

In these troubled times, I thought you might enjoy a post with a positive subject matter so today I’ll be looking at words and phrases around the subject of making friends and being friendly. You’ll notice there are several phrasal verbs in the post.

Starting with a phrasal verb, if you begin a friendship with someone, you can say that you strike up a friendship:

He’d struck up a friendship with an older guy on his course.


If you are friendly towards a stranger, often in order to help them, you might say you befriend them:

Luckily, I was befriended by an elderly man who showed me where to get a cup of coffee.

If two people like each other and get on well as soon as they meet, you can say, informally, that they hit it off:

We met at Lucy’s party and hit it off immediately.

I didn’t really hit it off with his mother.

The verb click has a similar meaning, with the additional suggestion that the people understand each other and think in a similar way:

We met at a work party and clicked right away.

If two people develop a friendly or loving connection with each other, you can say they bond:

She didn’t really bond with the other team members.

If people become friends because of a shared interest, you might say they bond over that thing:

We bonded over our love of birds and vegan cake.

Someone who makes an effort to be friends with a person or group, often because it will give them an advantage, may be said to get in with them:

She tried to get in with the cool kids at school.

Something, (often a bad thing), that causes people to become friends may be said to bring them together:

As so often happens, the disaster brought the whole community together.

Of course, relationships may end as well as start. If two people stop being friends after an argument, you can say, informally, that they fall out:

Unfortunately, the sisters fell out over money.  

If a friendship between two people gradually ends over time, you might say the people drift apart:

You know how it goes – our lives took different directions and we just drifted apart.

If someone suddenly ends a friendship with someone, you can use the slightly informal verb drop:

I don’t know what I did to offend her, but she just dropped me.

Finally, to end on a more cheerful note, if you start to be friends with someone that you used to know well in the past, you may be said to rekindle the friendship:

I was glad of the opportunity to rekindle an old friendship.

New words – 8 March 2021

izusek / iStock / Getty Images Plus

braincore noun [U]
UK /ˈbreɪn.kɔːʳ/ US /ˈbreɪn.kɔːr/
a way of dressing intended to make you look more intelligent

First there was normcore — the art of dressing in “normal”-looking clothing that suddenly became a thing in 2014. Then there was cottagecore — the trend for outfits inspired by rural-life twee that reached peak silliness during lockdown. Now? Middle-aged men are all about the braincore — that’s clothes, accessories and merch that show off how intellectual you are.
[, 27 December 2020]

sadwear noun [U]
UK /ˈsæd.weəʳ/ US /ˈsæd.wer/
clothes that make the wearer feel less sad

Lockdown dressing just raised its game with “sadwear” … Living in ratty sweats or even our best leggings seven days a week is enough to get anyone down, which is why “sadwear” is resonating with so many of us. Coined by Esquire magazine’s style director Charlie Teasdale, it can be used to characterize clothes that “make us feel better when we’re sad, specifically born out of the existential ennui of lockdown”.
[, 20 January 2021]

comfury noun [U]
UK /ˈkʌm.fᵊr.i/ US /ˈkʌm.fɚ.i/
a style of clothing that combines comfort and luxury

The key to comfury is to feel like you’re about to snuggle on the sofa, but look ready to go out. The boundaries have been blurred of late and this is a way to draw the lines again. So tracksuits are out, but silky, swingy and soft trousers are in … There are comfury versions of almost any item you can think of.
[, 18 October 2020]

About new words

An article of clothing and a ray of sunshine: making uncountable nouns countable (2)

Mike Powles/Stone/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

My last post introduced the topic of adding words to uncountable nouns so that they can be used in a countable way. In that post, I concentrated on food words. Today, we will look at some other topics. Continue reading “An article of clothing and a ray of sunshine: making uncountable nouns countable (2)”

New words – 1 March 2021

guenterguni / E+ / Getty

zombie storm noun [C]
UK /ˌzɒˈstɔːm/ US /ˌzɑːˈstɔːrm/
a type of storm that dies out but then gathers more energy and returns

Paulette regained strength and became a tropical storm once more about 300 miles (480 kilometers) away from the Azores Islands on Monday (Sept. 21), according to CNN. The term “zombie storm” is new, and though the phenomenon has been recorded before, it is thought to be rare.
[, 25 September 2020]

heat blob noun [C]
UK /ˈhiːt.blɒb/ US /ˈhiːt.blɑːb/
an area of relatively warm water in the middle of an ocean

An underwater heat blob from the Atlantic is delivering more and more warmth to the Arctic, causing sea ice to rapidly melt, a study has found. The research shows that the amount of heat delivered to the Arctic Ocean and the Nordic Seas by ocean currents has increased markedly since 2001.
[, 24 November 2020]

super-Earth noun [C]
UK /ˈsuː.pər.ɜːθ/ US /ˈsuː.pɚ.ɝːθ/
a planet outside our solar system that is similar to Earth but larger, and could be habitable by humans

In the last 30 years, scientists have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets, or planets outside our own solar system. Their latest discovery, however, is a bit of a doozy. Earlier this week, a team of researchers announced the discovery of TOI-561b, a rocky exoplanet that’s been deemed a “super-Earth.” It’s located about 280 light-years away.
[, 14 January 2021]

About new words

Did you have a nice weekend? (Chatting about the weekend)

SeventyFour/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

Readers of this blog often ask us for conversational English. They want to learn phrases for chatting informally with friends and colleagues. To help with this, some of our blog posts focus on the sort of conversations that we all have during the course of a day or a week. In this post, we’re looking at what you can say on a Monday when someone asks ‘How was your weekend?’ Continue reading “Did you have a nice weekend? (Chatting about the weekend)”

New words – 22 February 2021

Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann / Moment / Getty

cloffice noun [C]
UK /ˈklɒf.ɪs/ US /ˈklɑːf.ɪs/
a closet that has been turned into a small office space

Cloffices are particularly useful in smaller homes and apartments where square footage is tight. And you don’t need a spacious walk-in closet to make it work. The basic setup requires a desktop surface, storage, and a chair or stool that can easily fit inside a reach-in bedroom closet or a linen closet in the hallway.
[Better Homes and Gardens, 11 January 2021]

virtual commute noun [C]
UK /ˌvɜː.tʃu.əl.kəˈmjuːt/ US /ˌvɝː.tʃu.əl.kəˈmjuːt/
a way for people who work from home to separate their working hours from their personal time more easily

If there’s one thing remote workers probably don’t miss about going into the office, it’s the commute. Microsoft, however, disagrees. The company announced that it is working on a new feature for its Teams platform that will allow remote workers to schedule virtual commutes. The idea is to help give workers a solid separation between work and home, a time before and after work each day where they can reflect and set goals without work or home getting in the way.
[, 30 September 2020]

work from anywhere noun [U]
UK /ˌwɜːk.frəm.ˈen.i.weəʳ/ US /ˌwɝːk.frɑːm.ˈen.i.wer/
the activity of working remotely from any location, not necessarily at home

We learned that a great many of us don’t in fact need to be colocated with colleagues on-site to do our jobs. Individuals, teams, entire workforces, can perform well while being entirely distributed—and they have. So now we face new questions: Are all-remote or majority-remote organizations the future of knowledge work? Is work from anywhere (WFA) here to stay?
[Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec 2020]

About new words

A grain of rice and a clove of garlic: making uncountable nouns countable (1)

fcafotodigital/E+/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

You probably already know that you can use many uncountable nouns in a countable way with words such as piece or bit:

I ate a small piece of cheese.

Why don’t you add a bit of cream?

However, we can also use more interesting and specific words. Today’s post will look at how we do this with food and my next post will look at other topics such as weather and emotions.

We often use the names of containers when we talk about amounts of food. These might be items of crockery or cutlery, for example bowl, plate, cup, glass, tablespoon or teaspoon, or items of packaging such as packet, bottle, can, carton, tub or tube:

I ordered a bowl of soup.

Add a teaspoon of salt.

She ate a whole tub of ice cream.

It is also common to use words that indicate the shape of an amount of food, for instance slice, sliver, hunk, chunk, lump or slab:

The soup contained large chunks of beef.

I used a whole slab of chocolate in the dessert.

The words portion or serving indicates an amount sufficient for one person. We use mouthful for any food or drink. We also use sip, slurp, gulp and swig for amounts of liquid we swallow at one time:

There are four portions of stew in the pan.

The recipe makes four to six servings.

He ate a few mouthfuls of rice.

I only had a sip of tea.

With foods that consist of many very small parts, such as rice, sugar or salt we often use grain, while for liquids, we often use drop. Other words are more closely linked to specific liquids, for instance a dash (UK)/splash (US) of milk or a glug of oil:

Use a fork to separate the grains of rice.

I like a dash (UK)/splash (US) of milk in my tea.

Other words that are usually used with specific foods are a pinch of salt and a knob of butter:

Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water.

He fried the fish in a knob of butter.

Several words that make uncountable foods countable relate to the action you use with them. For example, we can talk about a squeeze of lemon juice, a grind of pepper, a sprinkling/dusting of icing sugar (UK)/confectioner’s sugar (US), cocoa powder, etc. and a drizzle of olive oil, honey, etc.

Give the risotto a few good grinds of pepper.

Serve the figs with a drizzle of honey.

Finally, there is a group of nouns that describe single parts of a type of food. For instance we talk about cloves of garlic, sweetcorn (UK)/corn (US) kernels, orange/grapefruit segments and coffee beans:

Chop two cloves of garlic.

The sweetcorn (UK)/corn (US) kernels add a lovely texture to the salad.

Food is such an enormous topic, there are probably many more ways of talking about amounts of it, but I hope this post has covered the main ones and helped to explain the idea of how we can use uncountable nouns in a countable way.

New words – 15 February 2021

Halfdark / Getty

zombie battery noun [C]
UK /ˌzɒˈbæt.ᵊr.i/ US /ˌzɑːˈbæt̬.ɚ.i/
a used battery that gets thrown away or added to normal household recycling

“Zombie batteries” have caused hundreds of fires at waste management facilities and recycling plants, endangering workers’ health, according to campaigners … If they are not recycled properly and end up in household waste, dead batteries can still cause dangerous incidents, hence the nickname “zombie”.
[, 26 October 2020]

decomponentise verb [T]
UK /ˌdiːkəmˈpəʊ.nənt.aɪz/ US /ˌdiːkəmˈpoʊ.nənt.aɪz/
to remove the individual components of a device such as a mobile phone in order to recycle them

“Your old phone should go back to the manufacturer, who can ‘decomponentise’ it and put all of its materials back into the system, to make new phones or feed them into a different industry,” she says. The foundation’s research shows that this would reduce manufacturing costs by up to 50 per cent per device.
[, 22 October 2020]

rollable adjective
UK /ˈrəʊl.ə.bᵊl/ US /ˈroʊl.ə.bᵊl/
used to describe a mobile phone whose screen can be expanded into the size of a tablet

Still, LG isn’t the only company working on a rollable phone – the Oppo X 2021 concept phone also rolls, as does a concept device from TCL. There’s no guarantee either of those will ever actually go on sale, but sooner or later there are likely to be multiple rollable phones on the market, so hopefully some of them are affordable.
[, 13 January 2021]

About new words

Blood is thicker than water. (Idioms with ‘water’, Part 2)

Peter Cade/Stone/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

This is the second of two posts on idioms that contain the word ‘water’. On this blog, we always try to provide you with commonly used, contemporary idioms and this post is no exception!

If you say you will do something come hell or high water, you mean you are very determined to do it, whatever difficulties you may face: I’m going to be at that ceremony next year, come hell or high water! Continue reading “Blood is thicker than water. (Idioms with ‘water’, Part 2)”