close up of a woman's hands tearing a pink paper heart in half

Losing and breaking your heart (Heart senses and phrases, Part 2)

close up of a woman's hands tearing a pink paper heart in half
Jamie Grill/Tetra images/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

In Part 1 of this ‘heart’ series, I looked at common ‘heart’ idioms and phrases for saying that someone is kind. In this post, I’ll consider various figurative senses of the word ‘heart’ and then focus on idioms and phrases that relate to love and romance. Continue reading “Losing and breaking your heart (Heart senses and phrases, Part 2)”

mussels growing on ropes

New words – 22 August 2022

mussels growing on ropes
Dreamer Company / iStock / Getty Images Plus

sea allotment noun [C]
UK /ˈsiː əˌlɒt.mənt/ US /ˈsiː əˌlɑːt.mənt/
a small area of the sea that someone rents for growing shellfish, edible seaweed etc.

As with land-based allotments, members of a sea allotment society share an area granted to them by local authorities and use it to cultivate food. The difference is that instead of a field, growers share a patch of the ocean. In the case of Kerteminde Maritime Haver, it is the Great Belt – the strait between Funen island and Denmark’s capital island, Zealand. Here, ropes strung between buoys are hung with mussels and sea kelp.
[theguardian.com, 25 June 2022]

robo-fish noun [C]
UK /ˈrəʊ.bəʊˌfɪʃ/ US /ˈroʊ.boʊˌfɪʃ/
a very small robot that looks like a fish, designed to remove very small pieces of plastic from the seas and oceans

Engineers at the Polymer Research Institute of Sichuan University have devised a tiny robo-fish that can flap around a body of water, grabbing microplastics as it goes. The 13mm robot uses a light laser system in its tail to propel itself at approximately 30mm a second. If the robot experiences damage during a swim, it can repair itself and continue the job without outside intervention.
[extremetech.com, 23 June 2022]

crab-bot noun [C]
UK /ˈkræbˌbɒt/ US /ˈkræbˌbɑːt/
a very small robot that looks like a crab, designed to enter the human body

The inventors of a flea-sized robot crab have suggested that future versions could travel through the arteries of patients with heart disease to clear blockages. Measuring about half a millimetre across, the “crab-bot” is said to be the smallest remote-controlled walking robot. It can scurry sideways, turn and jump.
[thetimes.co.uk, 26 May 2022]

About new words

close-up of a man's hand squeezing water from a large yellow cleaning sponge

Spongy, rock-hard or pliable? Talking about textures (2)

close-up of a man's hand squeezing water from a large yellow cleaning sponge
Peter Dazeley/The Image Bank/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

This is the second of two posts on texture. The previous one provided words to describe food, texture words from fabrics, and words to describe how smooth or rough something is. This one will focus on hardness and softness. Continue reading “Spongy, rock-hard or pliable? Talking about textures (2)”

a collection of labelled envelopes containing cash

New words – 15 August 2022

a collection of labelled envelopes containing cash
RonBailey / iStock / Getty Images Plus

cash stuffing noun [C]
/ˈkæʃ ˌstʌf.ɪŋ/
the practice of saving cash in a different envelope for each type of bill or purchase

Inspired by Tik Tok influencers, one money trend that seems new, but is actually a throwback to simpler times, is “cash stuffing.” It’s pretty much what it sounds like: dividing up your income into physical envelopes marked for different expense categories and stuffing them with money. “Cash stuffing is a financial strategy that involves saving cash instead of investing it in order to best inflation,” says Harry Turner from an investing and trading education website.
[gobankingrates.com, 16 May 2022]

hypermiling noun [U]
UK /ˈhaɪ.pəˌmaɪ.lɪŋ/ US /ˈhaɪ.pɚˌmaɪ.lɪŋ/
a way of driving that uses various techniques to minimise the amount of fuel used

Some motoring experts have highlighted hypermiling as being one of the key resources in helping to combat the sharp rise in fuel costs. In some instances, using simple hypermiling techniques can help cut petrol and diesel usage by up to 40 percent.
[dailypost.co.uk, 8 June 2022]

frugaller noun [C]
UK /ˈfruː.gəl.əʳ/ US /ˈfruː.gəl.ɚ/
someone who tries very hard to avoid wasting food or other resources and spends as little money as possible

She stores carrots in water so they don’t go bendy, and she puts kitchen roll in the salad bag to stop leaves drooping. She also plans meals, so never buys something she already has. Some extreme frugallers take this one step further by keeping inventory lists. This means they can be confident they have supplies to fall back on if an unexpected bill comes in.
[theguardian.com, 4 June 2022]

About new words

A foil wrapped heart on a pink background with lots of hearts.

A heart of gold or a heart of stone? (‘Heart’ senses and phrases, Part 1)

A foil wrapped heart on a pink background with lots of hearts.
Jennifer A Smith/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

The word ‘heart’ is used a tremendous lot in English. As you might imagine, it’s often used to say things about love and emotions, but it has other less predictable meanings too. In this three-part post, I’ll look at the way we use this word, focusing on its various senses and a range of ‘heart’ idioms and phrases. As ever, I’ll present language that is current and useful. Continue reading “A heart of gold or a heart of stone? (‘Heart’ senses and phrases, Part 1)”

a large pile of broken household goods

New words – 8 August 2022

a large pile of broken household goods
hroe / iStock / Getty Images Plus

urban mining noun [U]
UK /ˌɜː.bən ˈmaɪ.nɪŋ/ US /ˌɝː.bən ˈmaɪ.nɪŋ/
removing and recycling metal parts from objects such as batteries and electronic devices that have been thrown away

As well as requiring good collection and recycling systems, urban mining relies upon people handing over products they no longer use. British charity WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) recently estimated that as many as 125 million mobile phones are being hoarded in people’s drawers and cupboards in the UK alone.
[opendemocracy.net, 15 March 2022]

solar skin noun [C]
UK /ˌsəʊ.lə ˈskɪn/ US /ˌsoʊ.lɚ ˈskɪn/
a number of very thin solar panels that completely cover the outside of a building

In West Melbourne, Australia, an eight-story building will be the country’s first office tower with a “solar skin,” marking a watershed moment for the construction industry. The $40-million office tower will be outfitted with 1,182 solar panels the thickness of a regular glass facade. And when complete, the array will provide enough power to meet practically all of the building’s energy needs, with almost no ongoing power costs.
[interestingengineering.com, 6 June 2022]

peecycling noun [U]
/ˌpiːˈsaɪ.klɪŋ/
using human urine as a fertilizer for plants

Peecycling—aka recycling human urine—gives “liquid gold” an entirely new meaning. But while the concept is making waves today, it’s nothing new. Urine has been used as fertilizer since 1867. Before making its way to the United States, it was considered a sustainable farming practice around the world in Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
[brightly.eco, 21 June 2022]

About new words

a woman's manicured hands stroking soft, dark blue velvet cloth

Tender, velvety or abrasive? Talking about textures (1)

a woman's manicured hands stroking soft, dark blue velvet cloth
Maryna Terletska/Moment/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

Today’s post focuses on the texture of things: in other words, the way they feel. Continue reading “Tender, velvety or abrasive? Talking about textures (1)”

a man holding a bag of groceries looks worried as he reads the receipt

New words – 1 August 2022

a man holding a bag of groceries looks worried as he reads the receipt
Elena Perova / iStock / Getty Images Plus

ripflation noun [U]
/rɪpˈfleɪ.ʃᵊn/
the situation when companies use inflation as an excuse to increase their prices more than necessary in a way that rips off (= cheats) their customers

Ripflation, my coined term meaning ripoff inflation, is when the economic and supply chain conditions have significantly improved but various players in the supply chain keep prices elevated beyond necessity … In other words, ripflation uses inflation as its convenient cover story. Why are corporate profits objectively soaring in 2022 yet consumers are being hit so hard? Could it be ripflation? Could it be their stinginess and unwillingness to give back to a public that has been traumatized for 3 years?
[medium.datadriveninvestor.com, 31 March 2022]

skimpflation noun [U]
/skɪmpˈfleɪ.ʃᵊn/
the situation when the price of a product or service stays the same but the quality becomes worse

“Skimpflation is when consumers are getting less for their money,” says Alan Cole … formerly a senior economist at the joint economic committee of the US Congress. “Unlike typical inflation, where they’re paying more for the same goods, skimpflation is when they’re paying the same for something that worsened in quality.”
[theguardian.com, 28 June 2022]

greedflation noun [U]
/griːdˈfleɪ.ʃᵊn/
the situation when companies use inflation as an excuse to increase their prices more than necessary in order to make as much money as they can

This isn’t inflation. It’s greedflation. This sudden, heart-stopping rise in prices is in large part an effect of corporations jacking up prices. Why? Because they can. They used the pandemic as an excuse to raise prices disproportionately.
[eand.co, 22 April 2022]

About new words

close-up image of a man in business clothes fastening his belt

Tightening your belt and wearing the trousers (Clothes idioms, Part 2)

close-up image of a man in business clothes fastening his belt
GSO Images/The Image Bank/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

In Part 1 of this post, we looked at English idioms containing words for items of clothing that cover the top half of the body. This week, we’re working our way down the body with idioms that include words such as ‘belt’, ‘trousers’ and ‘shoe’. (Footwear features in a surprising number of current idioms!) Continue reading “Tightening your belt and wearing the trousers (Clothes idioms, Part 2)”

a man with grey hair and glasses standing in a bakery

New words – 25 July 2022

a man with grey hair and glasses standing in a bakery
Mark Edward Atkinson / Tracey Lee / Tetra images / Getty

unretirement noun [U, C]
UK /ʌn.rɪˈtaɪə.mənt/ US /ʌn.rɪˈtaɪr.mənt/
the act of going back to work after you have retired

Amid a hot labor market and high inflation, retired workers are returning to work at a rising rate. ‘Unretirements’ are on the rise as workers who previously said they were retired are now taking jobs again. As of March 2022, 3.2% of workers who were retired a year earlier are now employed.
[hiringlab.org, 14 April 2022]

youth transplant noun [C]
UK /ˈjuːθ ˌtræns.plɑːnt / US /ˈjuːθ ˌtræns.plænt/
a way of making people age more slowly by injecting them with chemicals that are the same as those found in the bodies of young people

Science is beginning to discover that “youth transplants” really can slow down the ageing process. The fountain of youth, it seems, is youth itself. Although nobody is suggesting we siphon the bodily fluids of youngsters into our elderly, it opens the door to artificially replicating the cocktail of chemicals found in young people. Young people have more powerful cells which operate more efficiently and could restore vitality to ageing systems.
[telegraph.co.uk, 14 May 2022]

baby bust noun [C]
/ˈbeɪ.bi ˌbʌst/
a large decrease in the number of babies born among a particular group of people during a particular time

A drop in births for just a year would not be a major problem on its own, but this likely baby bust will come after many years of falling birthrates. U.S. annual births fell to 3.75 million in 2019 from 4.3 million in 2007. Together with the Covid baby bust, these trends suggest that our country could see a multiyear reduction in births that approaches — in reverse — the swell in births that led to the baby boom generation born after World War II.
[nytimes.com, 4 March 2021]

About new words