New words – 18 September 2017


rooftopper noun [C]
UK /ˈruːf.tɒp.əʳ/ US /ˈruːf.tɑːpɚ/
someone who climbs onto the roof of a high building to take photographs, often putting themselves in physical danger

This is the heart stopping moment a daredevil rooftopper climbs a New York skyscraper. The dizzying snaps show stunning scenes across the Big Apple from high up on the top of the concrete jungle’s landmark skyscrapers.
[, 29 March 2017]

experience economy noun [U]
UK /ɪkˈspɪə.ri.əns.iˈkɒn.ə.mi/ US /ɪkˈspɪr.i.əns.iˈkɑː.nə.mi/
an economic system that is based on people doing things, such as taking part in sporting activities and visiting places, rather than buying things

A series of studies is revealing strange things about our spending habits. They call it the “experience economy”, which gives it the sense of a grand theory. And there is science behind it, but it’s also very simple: regardless of political uncertainty, austerity and inflation, we are spending more on doing stuff, choosing instead to cut back on buying stuff.
[The Guardian, 13 May 2017]

tombstone tourist noun [C]
UK /ˈtuːm.stəʊn.ˈtʊə.rɪ.st/ US /ˈtuːm.stoʊn.ˈtʊr.ɪ.st/
someone who visits the graves of famous people for enjoyment

Visiting a graveyard for enjoyment is not everyone’s cup of tea. But tombstone tourists – or “taphophiles” – are increasingly to be found wandering through cemeteries, examining headstones, and generally enjoying the sombre atmosphere. 
[, 7 May 2017]

About new words

I think you should apologise: giving advice and making suggestions

JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty

by Liz Walter

We all have times when we want to give advice to someone or to make a suggestion about something they could do to solve a problem. However, it’s not always easy to do that without giving offence, so this post looks at a range of language you could use in this situation.

The most obvious words to use for giving advice are the modal verbs should and ought to:

You ought to eat more vegetables.

You shouldn’t be so rude to your parents. Continue reading “I think you should apologise: giving advice and making suggestions”

New words – 11 September 2017

fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty

procrastination nanny noun [C]
UK /prəˌkræs.tɪˈneɪ.ʃᵊn.næn.i/ US /proʊˌkræs.tɪˈneɪ.ʃᵊn.næn.i/
a person whose job is to encourage you to do tasks that you have been putting off

Speaking of acting like children, the latest Stateside trend is to get yourself a ‘procrastination nanny’ aka a professional motivator who sits with you and keeps you on track with tasks that you might not feel like doing. Oh grow up and get on with it, I say!
[, 1 May 2017]

air nanny noun [C]
UK /ˈeəʳ.næn.i/ US /ˈer.næn.i/
a woman whose job is to take care of a particular family’s children during a flight

The air nanny will do everything for the children from keeping them entertained to making the flight pass smoothly, to preparing the child/children for bed and sleep. Air nannies will ultimately make the flight enjoyable for the entire family. And frankly, who in their right mind wouldn’t want that?
[, 1 April 2017]

nanny cam noun [C]
a camera hidden in a home that films the activities of the people employed to look after the children

Some nanny cams don’t look like cameras at all. They are meant to go undetected. Some nanny cams look like teddy bears while others look like cameras and are meant to be placed in a household object to hide it.
[, 3 February 2017]

About new words

Rushed off my feet: words connected with hard work

Paul Bradbury/OJO Images/Getty

by Liz Walter

Last month I wrote about laziness and doing nothing, but this month, when most people are back at work and school begins again (in the UK at least), the topic is the opposite: hard work and being busy.

There are several colourful idioms connected with having too much work to do. If you are up to your eyes/eyeballs/neck/ears in work, there is a very large amount of it to do. We can also say that we are rushed off our feet – this phrase is usually for when the work involves standing up or moving around, for example working in a shop or café. In UK English, an informal way of saying that a job or situation (for example, running a family) is busy is to say that it’s all go. Continue reading “Rushed off my feet: words connected with hard work”

New words – 4 September 2017

TSchon/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty

avocado hand noun [U]
UK /ˌæv.əˈkɑː.dəʊ.hænd/ US /ˌæv.əˈkɑː.doʊ.hænd/
an injury that results when you use a knife to try to remove the stone from an avocado and cut your hand instead

Simon Eccles, secretary of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, explained how he now treats up to four people a week for avocado hand. When slippery fruit meets sharp knife and hard stone, intricate surgery is often required to mend the deep lacerations.
[The Telegraph, 15 May 2017]

Q noun [U]
a chewy texture typical of food from Taiwan

Q is a springy, chewy texture … it’s a cornerstone of Taiwanese cooking so revered it appears repeatedly throughout the day in dishes both sweet and savory, hot and cold, and even in drinks.
[, May 2017]

runch noun [C]
a run that you do for exercise during your lunch break

For many trail runners, “runch” is the most important meal of the day. Running at lunch provides a predictable window of opportunity to conquer some miles. Most office jobs involve about an hour of lunch, which is enough time to get a solid aerobic stimulus before sitting in front of a computer for a few more hours.
[, 16 May 2017]

About new words

What’s cooking? (Cutting and mixing food)

AfricaImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

A few weeks ago we looked at cooking words – specifically the range of verbs that describe cooking with the use of an oven. Today we’re focusing on words for cutting up and mixing food.

Let’s start with the cutting. There are various verbs for cutting, each with a particular meaning. If you peel fruit or vegetables, you remove the skin using a knife or other sharp object: I’m just peeling the potatoes. To core a piece of fruit is to remove the hard part inside that contains the seeds: Peel and core the pears. If you slice a piece of food, you cut it into thin, flat pieces: Could you slice the bread? / sliced tomatoes. The verb carve, meanwhile, is usually used for cutting cooked meat. You carve meat when you cut thin pieces from a large piece: Dan carved the chicken. Continue reading “What’s cooking? (Cutting and mixing food)”

New words – 28 August 2017

JGI/Tom Grill/Blend Images/Getty

guideshop noun [C]
UK /ˈgaɪd.ʃɒp/ US /ˈgaɪd.ʃɑːp/
a shop where customers can see and try products then order them to be delivered to their home, but which does not stock them for sale

By letting customers try out products but not stocking apparel for sale, Bonobos can cut costs with smaller stores, offer a wider selection of styles and fits, and focus on customer service rather than inventory management, Dunn said. He declined to comment on the company’s growth or revenues but said the guideshops are profitable.
[Chicago Tribune, 20 April 2016]

retailtainment noun [U]
the use of sound, lighting and entertaining activities to encourage shoppers to buy things

Chinese shoppers can expect to see more emphasis on retailtainment that falls into the health and fitness category, reflecting a growing consumer interest in healthy lifestyles. Not only does this mean malls are likely to make space for more sport facilities, but also that developers will set aside retail space for niche brands trying to make it into the China market.
[, 3 February 2017]

community mall noun [C]
UK /kəˈmjuː.nə.ti.mɔːl/ US /kəˈmjuː.nə.t̬i.mɑːl/
a small, open-air shopping mall, usually with plants, trees and an outdoor seating area

There are at least two dozen “community malls” in Bangkok, often opened by small businesses … rather than the development giants whose outlets attract the likes of Prada, Cartier and Gucci. They also target a specific demographic, even if they are technically open to all.
[The Guardian, 3 April 2017]

About new words

Time to put your feet up: words connected with doing nothing

Paul Bradbury/Caiaimage/Getty

by Liz Walter

It’s August, and for many people that means holiday time (vacation time if you’re a US English speaker), so in this post I thought I’d make some suggestions for words and phrases connected with being lazy and not doing much.

There are several words for lazy people. They are all negative, but some are more disapproving than others. Describing someone as a layabout indicates strong disapproval, while lazybones could be used almost affectionately. Slacker could be used seriously or semi-humorously, as could the informal couch potato. Work-shy is a very disapproving word, often used for unemployed people suspected of not wanting to get a job. Continue reading “Time to put your feet up: words connected with doing nothing”

New words – 21 August 2017

Blend Images – KidStock/Brand X Pictures/Getty

ecotherapy noun [U]
UK /ˈiː.kəʊ.θer.ə.pi/ US /ˈiː.koʊ.θer.ə.pi/
a method of improving someone’s well-being by engaging them in outdoor activities such as gardening and conservation work

Mind has funded 130 ecotherapy projects and helped more than 12,000 people in the process. One such project uses gardening and growing food to help people with mental health issues improve their sense of wellbeing. Green exercise therapy – walking in nature – has also proven to be effective.
[, 16 December 2016]

clean meat noun [U]
meat that has been grown in a laboratory from self-reproducing cells

There are concerns about clean meat however. Some people wonder whether meat eaters will even want to eat it. They might be so stuck in their ways that the thought of eating animal products produced by a radical new method will seem weird and disgusting to them. Some meat eaters I’ve spoken to are repulsed by the idea of eating “meat grown in a lab”, even after I remind them that all processed foods start in a lab before they are mass produced in a factory.
[The Guardian, 18 April 2017]

FODMAP noun [C]
UK /ˈfɒd.mæp/ US /ˈfɑːd.mæp/
abbreviation for ‘fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols’: one of a group of naturally occurring sugars that are said to be a possible cause of stomach pain and problems with digestion

In one trial, avoiding foods with FODMAPs was shown to reduce IBS symptoms in 76% of sufferers. This isn’t easy – lots of foods have FODMAPs, including anything containing wheat, dairy, fruits like apples, pears and peaches, and vegetables including onions.
[Sainsbury’s Magazine, April 2017]

About new words

Make a splash! (Everyday idioms in newspapers)

Garry Solomon/EyeEm/Getty

by Kate Woodford

Every few months on this blog, we read a selection of national newspapers published on the same day and pick out the idioms that we find in the articles and reports. We read the news, the gossip columns and the sports pages and, as with previous posts, include only the most frequent, up-to-date idioms. Continue reading “Make a splash! (Everyday idioms in newspapers)”