New words – 14 December 2020

Westend61 / Getty

comfort spending noun [U]
UK /ˈkʌm.fət.ˌspendɪŋ/ US /ˈkʌm.fɚt.ˌspendɪŋ/
the act of buying nice things for yourself in order to feel better when you are stressed or unhappy

Now it’s almost fall, and we’ve graduated from hoarding toilet paper to making midnight online purchases that WalletHub calls “comfort spending.” It helps, somehow, to know that choices, even frivolous ones, are still possible. Maybe you can’t control a virus, but you can control Amazon Prime.
[houstonchronicle.com, 10 September 2020]

shecession noun [C]
/ʃiːˈseʃ.ᵊn/
an economic recession that affects mostly women

One of the unique aspects of the current recession is the way it’s impacting women: though men are more likely to die of Covid-19, the pandemic’s toll on employment is heavier for women. While the 1970s marked the start of “mancession” periods in industries like construction, the current “shecession” is heavily affecting sectors like hospitality and retail.
[www.bbc.com/worklife, 27 October 2020]

mortgage prisoner noun [C]
UK /ˈmɔː.gɪdʒ.ˌprɪz.ᵊn.əʳ/ US /ˈmɔːr.gɪdʒ.ˌprɪz.ᵊn.ɚ/
someone who is unable to transfer their mortgage to a lender that offers lower interest rates because the rules for borrowing have become stricter or their house is worth less than they owe

Mortgage prisoners are customers who have previously been unable to switch mortgages despite being up-to-date with their payments. The FCA changed its rules last year to allow lenders to assess affordability based on a mortgage prisoner’s track record of making mortgage payments if they are not looking to move house, or borrow more.
[ftadviser.com, 26 October 2020]

About new words

Help is at hand (Idioms with ‘hand’, Part 1)

Peter Cade/Stone/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

Who knew how many idioms and phrases there were containing the word ‘hand’! I certainly didn’t until I started researching them. A lot are common in everyday speech and are therefore useful to learn. As there are so many, this will be the first of two posts, Part 1 and Part 2.

Continue reading “Help is at hand (Idioms with ‘hand’, Part 1)”

New words – 7 December 2020

BSIP / Universal Images Group / Getty

super pea noun [C]
UK /ˈsuː.pə.piː/ US /ˈsuː.pɚ.piː/
a type of pea that is thought to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by helping to control blood sugar levels

A type of wrinkled ‘super pea’ may help control blood sugar levels and could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, suggests a new study. The research … suggests incorporating the peas into foods, in the form of whole pea seeds or flour, may help tackle the global type 2 diabetes epidemic.
[imperial.ac.uk, 26 October 2020]

polypill noun [C]
UK /ˈpɒl.i.pɪl/ US /ˈpɑː.li.pɪl/
a pill that contains several different drugs

A “polypill” packed with four different medications to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol can cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by up to 40 per cent when taken with aspirin, a study has suggested.
[www.telegraph.co.uk, 14 November 2020]

inflammageing noun [U]
/ˌɪn.fləˈmeɪ.dʒ.ɪŋ/
a quickening of the ageing process caused by inflammation in the body

If you’re stressed, your diet is out of whack, and your skin is feeling the effects of the colder weather, chances are you might be “inflammageing”. The beauty buzzword describes how an excess of inflammation – the body’s natural immune response to external aggressors – accelerates the skin’s ageing process.
[vogue.co.uk, 11 October 2020]

About new words

I can’t hear myself think: more interesting ways of saying ‘noisy’

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

At the beginning of the month I wrote about words and phrases connected with being quiet. In this post, I’ll be looking at the opposite: how to talk about noise.

Continue reading “I can’t hear myself think: more interesting ways of saying ‘noisy’”

New words – 30 November 2020

Julia Davila-Lampe / Moment / Getty

awe walk noun [C]
UK /ˈɔː.wɔːk/ US /ˈɑː.wɑːk/
a walk outdoors during which the person walking makes a conscious effort to look at the objects, views etc. around them

Consciously watching for small wonders in the world around you during an otherwise ordinary walk could amplify the mental health benefits of the stroll, according to an interesting new psychological study of what the study’s authors call “awe walks.” In the study, people who took a fresh look at the objects, moments and vistas that surrounded them during brief, weekly walks felt more upbeat and hopeful in general than walkers who did not.
[nytimes.com, 1 October 2020]

bee broker noun [C]
UK /ˈbiː.brəʊ.kəʳ/ US /ˈbiː.brəʊ.kɚ/
someone who organizes the moving of bees from where they are kept in their hives to where they will be needed to pollinate trees and crops, and to ensure this is done safely

The Monsons don’t own these bees. The father-and-son team are bee brokers who serve as the middle men between beekeepers scattered throughout the eastern states and almond growers, facilitating the rental of hives for almond pollination, representing beekeepers to ensure their hives are safe and, when required, chauffeuring them from one job site to the next.
[junctionjournalism.com, 20 October 2020]

wildbelt noun [C, usually singular]
/ˈwaɪld.belt/
an area of land where building and other development is not allowed, so that nature can be protected and restored

A new “wildbelt” designation protecting land that is being restored for nature must be included in the UK government’s planning reforms, it has been urged … This wildbelt designation would enable new land that currently does not do much for wildlife to be protected, so efforts to create or restore natural habitat or rewild the area are secure from future changes to land use.
[theecologist.org, 17 September 2020]

About new words

Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2020

Our Word of the Year 2020 is… quarantine. Our data shows it was one of the most highly searched words on the Cambridge Dictionary this year.

Quarantine was the only word to rank in the top five for both search spikes  and overall views (more than 183,000 by early November), with the largest spike in searches (28,545) seen the week of 18-24 March, when many countries around the world went into lockdown as a result of COVID-19. Continue reading “Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2020”

New words – 23 November 2020

VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty

genetic scissors noun [plural]
UK /dʒəˈnet.ɪk.ˈsɪz.əz/ US /dʒəˈnet̬.ɪk.ˈsɪz.ɚz/
a method of cutting the DNA in a cell so that it can be repaired

Researchers need to modify genes in cells if they are to find out about life’s inner workings. This used to be time-consuming, difficult and sometimes impossible work. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, it is now possible to change the code of life over the course of a few weeks.
[nobelprize.org, 7 October 2020]

lyfe noun [U]
/laɪf/, /lɔɪf/
any form of life, including but not limited to the human, animal and plant life we are aware of

“Lyfe” is a recent scientific coinage defined as any system that combines four processes: “dissipation, autocatalysis, homeostasis, and learning”. Life in the familiar sense is merely “the instance of lyfe that we are familiar with on Earth”, but other much weirder types might exist.
[www.theguardian.com, 6 August 2020]

gigafactory noun [C]
/ˌgɪg.ə.ˈfæk.tᵊr.i/
a very large factory where batteries for electric vehicles are made

A £1.2bn project to build Britain’s first ‘gigafactory’ to supply electric batteries for the UK car industry could unravel without changes to UK state aid rules, according to the company’s chief executive.
[telegraph.co.uk, 4 October 2020]

About new words

At the crack of dawn: Idioms used for speaking about time

Tim Robberts/Stone/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

During the course of a day, we make repeated references to time, whether we’re worrying about being late for an appointment or expressing surprise at how quickly something has happened. Any concept that we frequently convey is likely to have idioms associated with it. This post looks at those idioms, as always, focusing on phrases that are frequent and current.

Continue reading “At the crack of dawn: Idioms used for speaking about time”

New words – 16 November 2020

Image Source / DigitalVision / Getty

minimony noun [C]
/ˈmɪnə.mə.ni/
a small wedding ceremony that is held instead of, or before, a bigger celebration

Minimonies are a good compromise for couples who’ve been forced to postpone their weddings due to … COVID-19. A minimony is a wonderful way to honor and celebrate your original wedding date. You can choose to get legally married at your minimony even if you still plan to host a larger celebration at a later time.
[thebudgetsavvybride.com, no date]

microwedding noun [C]
UK /ˈmaɪ.krəʊ.wed.ɪŋ/ US /ˈmaɪ.kroʊ.wed.ɪŋ/
a wedding to which only a small number of guests are invited

Think of a microwedding as a cross between an elopement and a big, traditional wedding … “More is not always necessarily more,” says renowned event planner Stefanie Cove. “A microwedding is for the couple who wants to really focus and spend the majority of their budget on the smaller details, whereas it might be difficult to replicate the same experience for, say, 200 guests.”
[theknot.com, 6 May 2020]

divorce tourism noun [U]
UK /dɪˈvɔːs.tʊə.rɪ.zᵊm/ US /dɪˈvɔːrs.tʊr.ɪ.zᵊm/
the activity of going to another country to take advantage of its divorce laws

Russia’s richest man, Vladmir Potanin, won a London court ruling as part of a long-running legal battle with his former wife after a judge said the English courts shouldn’t be used for “divorce tourism.” The couple divorced in Russia in 2014 and Natalia Potanina had applied to the court for a further award, which would have far outstripped the largest payout in a U.K. divorce.
[bloomberg.com, 8 November 2019]

About new words

You could hear a pin drop: more interesting ways of saying ‘quiet’

Sam Edwards/OJO Images/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Quiet is a word that English students learn early in their studies. Today we are going to look at some more specific and subtle ways of talking about quietness and silence.

Continue reading “You could hear a pin drop: more interesting ways of saying ‘quiet’”