Out of your depth: idioms that describe difficult situations

Gualtiero Boffi/EyeEm/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

Back in 2017, my colleague Kate Woodford wrote a post about words for difficult situations (https://dictionaryblog.cambridge.org/2017/03/22/what-a-nightmare-words-for-difficult-situations/) This post builds on that by offering a selection of idioms that enable us to describe problematic times in a more colourful way. Continue reading “Out of your depth: idioms that describe difficult situations”

New words – 14 June 2021

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proffee noun [C, U]
UK /ˈprɒf.i/ US /ˈprɑː.fi/
a drink made by mixing cold coffee with protein powder or with a ready-made drink that contains protein

And now, a new caffeine-fuelled trend as spotted by coffee-direct.co.uk is here to save us from the 3pm slump. Enter ‘proffee’, a drink made with iced coffee or espresso and a protein shake. Loads of TikTokers have uploaded clips of their proffee recipes, most commonly by adding two or three shots of espresso over ice, before pouring over a pre-made protein shake.
[glamourmagazine.co.uk, 18 March 2021]

nolo adjective
UK /ˈnəʊləʊ/ US /ˈnoʊloʊ/
(of a drink) containing no alcohol or a very low amount of alcohol

The global nolo (that’s no- and low-alcohol, for those not in the know) trend has been gaining momentum in recent years, and in Japan, it’s estimated that alcohol consumption has halved over the last decade for people in their 20s and 30s. Forget the stereotypical drunken salarymen – with the exciting range of nolo bars and drinks, it’s a great time to cut out the hard stuff.
[timeout.com, 26 April 2021]

tea bomb noun [C]
UK /ˈtiː.bɒm/ US /ˈtiː.bɑːm/
tea and other ingredients such as herbs and edible flowers contained within a clear, hard shell that melts when it is put into hot water

The tea bombs trend recently took the centre stage, but people have already come up with flavours and different ways to prepare the goodies-filled delicious beverage. While some prefer tea bombs filled with lavender or chamomile, others opt for simpler versions like green tea. Food bloggers have taken it up a notch with flowers and all sorts of fancy ingredients to make their tea look stunning.
[thehealthsite.com, 4 February 2021]

About new words

Palatial or cramped? (Words to describe buildings and rooms, part 1)


by Kate Woodford

This week we’re looking at the words we use to describe buildings and rooms. Since there are lots of useful words, the post will be in two parts. Continue reading “Palatial or cramped? (Words to describe buildings and rooms, part 1)”

New words – 7 June 2021

Robert Niedring / Alloy / Getty

Everesting noun [U]
UK /ˈev.ᵊr.ɪst.ɪŋ/ US /ˈev.ə.rɪst.ɪŋ/
a sporting challenge where someone cycles (or sometimes runs) up and down the same hill until they have climbed the height of Mount Everest

“Everesting” is straightforward: Pick a hill, any hill, and go up and down it until you attain 29,029 feet of climbing. Friends can support you, but you must do it under your own power and in a single effort — no sleeping. The result is more than double the climbing of the hardest stages of the Tour de France. With most cycling events disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, Everesting has become a hot activity for the ultra-endurance set.
[www.nytimes.com, 13 August 2020]

mental health gym noun [C]
UK /ˌmen.tᵊl.ˈhelθ.dʒɪm/ US /ˌmen.t̬ᵊlˈhelθ.dʒɪm/
a gym that offers activities designed to improve the mental health as well as the physical health of its members

The concept of mental health gyms will also do wonders against the stigma that mental illness makes you weak, as it’s a facility that promotes strength that will also be promoting mental health. Struggling with one’s mental health should be evidence of a person’s strength and resolve rather than the opposite.
[grwhealth.com, 17 February 2021]

HILIT noun [U]
abbreviation for “high-intensity low-impact training”: physical training that consists of short periods of intense exercise with short periods of rest in between but does not include any exercise that puts pressure on the body’s joints, such as jumping

“The low-impact nature of HILIT reduces the chance of injury, ensuring less stress on the joints and muscles. This method is perfect for beginners or those working through soreness or pain,” says Dr. Kianoush Missaghi … “As a plus, the exercises are quiet and won’t disturb the downstairs neighbours, further making it the perfect at-home workout.”
[whateveryourdose.com, 6 February 2021]

About new words

At sixes and sevens: phrases with numbers

Mohd Khairil Majid/EyeEm/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

My last two posts have covered phrases containing the numbers one and two. Today I am going to look at phrases with some higher numbers. There are a lot of them, so I am just picking out some that I think will be generally useful, but as always, please feel free to suggest others in the comments. Continue reading “At sixes and sevens: phrases with numbers”

New words – 31 May 2021

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15-minute city noun [C]
UK /ˌfɪfˈtiːn.ˌmɪn.ɪt.ˈsɪt.i/ US /ˌfɪfˈtiːn.ˌmɪn.ɪt.ˈsɪt̬.i/
a city that is designed so that everyone who lives there can reach everything they need within 15 minutes on foot or by bike

Moreno, who is also Paris City Hall’s special envoy for smart cities, is regarded as the key theorist behind the recent resurgence in a new model for urban planning that seems almost custom built for this localised future: the ‘15-minute city’ … The 15-minute city requires minimal travel among housing, offices, restaurants, parks, hospitals and cultural venues. Each neighbourhood should fulfil six social functions: living, working, supplying, caring, learning and enjoying.
[bbc.com, 14 December 2020]

sponge city noun [C]
UK /ˌspʌndʒ.ˈsɪt.i/ US /ˌspʌndʒ.ˈsɪt̬.i/
a city that is prone to flooding and so has been rebuilt in a way that allows more rainwater to be absorbed back into the ground

The “sponge city” initiative, launched in 2015, is an attempt to … soak up heavy precipitation and release it slowly into the river and reservoirs. Using features such as rooftop gardens, scenic wetland parks, permeable pavements and underground storage tanks, the plan is to eventually absorb or reuse 70% of the rainwater that falls on four-fifths of China’s urban land.
[bloomberg.com, 13 August 2020]

linear city noun [C]
UK /ˌlɪn.i.ə.ˈsɪt.i/ US /ˌlɪn.i.ɚ..ˈsɪt̬.i/
a very long, narrow city built in a straight line

Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, has unveiled plans for a 100-mile-long linear city called The Line. Announcing the project in a new video, the city would include a series of walkable communities for a million people with no cars or streets. The project locates essential facilities within a five-minute walk of housing, connected “modules” linking the Red Sea coast with north-west Saudi Arabia as part of the NEOM city-state.
[archdaily.com, 15 January 2021]

About new words

In high spirits or down in the dumps? (The language of moods)


by Kate Woodford

How would you describe your mood day? Are you feeling pretty chilled (= relaxed and not worried about anything)? Perhaps you’re slightly on edge (= anxious about something and not able to relax)? Our moods change all the time, sometimes for no obvious reason. With this post, I aim to provide you with some nice adjectives and phrases for describing the way we feel. Continue reading “In high spirits or down in the dumps? (The language of moods)”

New words – 24 May 2021

Manjurul / iStock / Getty Images Plus

biofacturing noun [U]
UK /ˌbaɪ.əʊ.ˈfæk.tʃə.rɪŋ/ US /ˌbaɪ.oʊ.ˈfæk.tʃɚ.ɪŋ/
a way of producing goods in a factory that uses microbes (= very small living things that can only be seen with a microscope) to create the raw materials

The natural world is the best manufacturing system there is. It’s been “innovating” for billions of years, and it makes things greener, better, and cheaper than any conventional factory ever could. Biofacturing seeks to partner with nature to make better products in a better way. By combining machine learning, automation, and molecular biology to nature’s insights, biofacturing represents a way to bring breakthrough products to market more quickly and for less cost.
[zymergen.com, 22 January 2021]

decision intelligence noun [U]
UK /dɪˈsɪʒ.ᵊn.ɪnˈtel.ɪ.dʒᵊns/ US /dɪˈsɪʒ.ᵊn.ɪnˈtel.ə.dʒᵊns/
a type of artificial intelligence that analyses large amount of data to allow organizations to make business decisions more easily

“Decision intelligence connects AI and human decision-making to form more intelligent conclusions, which lead to more favorable outcomes,” says Jack Zmudzinski, a senior associate at Future Processing, a custom software development company. “So, rather than a decision made by a human or a decision made by a computer, it’s the best of both worlds.”
[ukpcmag.com, 23 April 2021]

NFT noun [C]
abbreviation for “non-fungible token”: an entry in a digital database that shows who owns a piece of content on the internet, such as a video, an artwork or a song

NFTs are “one-of-a-kind” assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold like any other piece of property, but they have no tangible form of their own. The digital tokens can be thought of as certificates of ownership for virtual or physical assets.
[bbc.co.uk, 12 March 2021]

About new words

There’s no two ways about it: phrases with the number two.

Kevin Button/Moment/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

In my last post, I wrote about phrases containing the number one. Today I’m going to look at some common phrases with the number two. Continue reading “There’s no two ways about it: phrases with the number two.”

New words – 17 May 2021

ciricvelibor / E+ / Getty

hurry sickness noun [U]
UK /ˈhʌr.i.sɪk.nəs/ US /ˈhɝː.i.sɪk.nəs/
a way of behaving in which someone does everything in a rush because they always feel stressed and anxious about not having enough time to get everything done

“If you find yourself treating even small, everyday tasks like shopping, eating or driving as a race, and any delay causes feelings of anxiety, you might be dealing with hurry sickness,” said Lee Chambers, an environmental psychologist and well-being consultant … When you’re dealing with hurry sickness, there never seems to be enough hours in a day to accomplish what you need to do. And no matter how much you get done, you always feel like you’re playing catch-up.
[huffingtonpost.co.uk, 26 April 2021]

home separation anxiety noun [U]
UK /ˌhəʊm.sep.ᵊrˈeɪ.ʃᵊn.æŋˌzaɪ.ə.ti/ US /ˌhoʊm.sep.ərˈeɪ.ʃᵊn.æŋˌzaɪ.ə.t̬i/
a feeling of worry and fear about being away from home, especially as a reaction to having spent so much time at home during lockdown

A recent study discovered that 67 percent of employed adults feel anxious at the thought of parting with their homes once society resumes, while 43 percent said they felt more attached to their homes. A large proportion of people have already experienced home separation anxiety, but how do we know if we are affected? And what can we do to reduce the fear and ease ourselves back into the world?
[homesandgardens.com, 15 April 2021]

coronasomnia noun [U]
UK /kəˌrəʊ.nə.ˈsɒm.ni.ə/ US /kəˌroʊ.nə.ˈsɑːm.ni.ə/
the condition of being unable to sleep because of anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic

As if the novel coronavirus has not already wrought devastation aplenty on the world, physicians and researchers are seeing signs it is doing deep damage to people’s sleep. “Coronasomnia,” as some experts now call it, could prove to have profound public-health ramifications — creating a massive new population of chronic insomniacs grappling with declines in productivity, shorter fuses and increased risks of hypertension, depression and other health problems.
[washingtonpost.com, 3 September 2020]

About new words