A woman in profile exhaling. The vapour of her breath is visible in the cold air.

Inhaling, gasping and panting: words to describe breathing

A woman in profile exhaling. The vapour of her breath is visible in the cold air.
olaser/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

Today’s post is about language around the activity of breathing – something we usually do without thinking about it unless we have a medical problem or are deliberately doing breathing exercises, for example during yoga practice. Continue reading “Inhaling, gasping and panting: words to describe breathing”

the empty cabin of a passenger aeroplane

New words – 30 May 2022

the empty cabin of a passenger aeroplane
Rob Melnychuk / DigitalVision / Getty

ghost flight noun [C]
UK /’gəʊst ˌflaɪt/ US /’goʊst ˌflaɪt/
a commercial aeroplane that flies to its destination with very few or no passengers, because of a law that means the airline will otherwise lose the right to land at and take off from that airport

Ghost flights have been criticized by climate campaigners since the landing spot rules were put in place, but the issue came to light when it was uncovered 15,000 ghost flights left the U.K. from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 to September 2021.
[cbsnews.com, 17 April 2022]

vertiport noun [C]
UK /ˈvɜː.tɪ.pɔːt/ US /ˈvɝː.t̬ə.pɔːt/
a place where an aircraft such as a drone or a helicopter can take off and land vertically

What do you call an airport for flying taxis? A vertiport. And this week, we took a step closer to the option of catching a flying taxi. UK company Urban-Air Port opened the world’s first vertiport this week in a partnership with the Supernal, the Urban Air Mobility division of Hyundai.
[thenextweb.com, 29 April 2022]

eVTOL noun [U]
UK /ˌiːˈviː.tɒl/ US /ˌiːˈviː.tɑːl/
abbreviation for electric vertical take-off and landing: a system in which an electric aircraft can take off and land vertically, or an aircraft that uses this system

f you’ve ever had the fantasy of soaring over bumper-to-bumper traffic in a flying vehicle, that may be possible sooner than you think. Not with a flying car, but with a battery-powered aircraft called an eVTOL … Dozens of companies are spending billions of dollars to make eVTOLs that will operate like air taxis.
[cbsnews.com, 17 April 2022]

About new words

a white sheep bleating as it looks at the camera

Grunting, lowing and bleating (Animal sounds, Part B)

a white sheep bleating as it looks at the camera
Marcel ter Bekke/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

In Part A of this blog (Howling, mewing and snorting), we looked at words for the various sounds made by dogs, cats and horses. This week we’re widening our scope and considering words for the sounds made by farm animals and wild animals. Continue reading “Grunting, lowing and bleating (Animal sounds, Part B)”

a collection of smartphones and tablets plugged into an extension lead to charge

New words – 23 May 2022

a collection of smartphones and tablets plugged into an extension lead to charge
Sally Anscombe / Moment / Getty

vampire device noun [C]
UK /ˌvæm.paɪə dɪˈvaɪs/ US /ˌvæm.paɪr dɪˈvaɪs/
an electrical appliance that continues to use electricity when it is switched on but not being used

As millions of people continue to spend more time than ever before at home … households could save 16 per cent on their electricity bills each year just by switching off their vampire devices. Vampire devices are electronics that continue to drain power when left on standby and with the average annual electricity bill currently at £474.44, Brits could save an average of £75 per household per year … just by flicking a switch.
[dailyrecord.co.uk, 18 March 2022]

black mass noun [U]
/ˌblæk.ˈmæs/
the substance that is left over after a battery has been recycled and that contains metals that can be used to make new batteries or other products

Once a battery reaches the end of its service life, it is collected, dismantled, and shredded. The shredded material is then processed to produce “black mass”, which contains high amounts of these metals. These critical materials can then be extracted from the black mass and re-used in new battery production or in new products and/or applications.
[recycling-magazine.com, 10 September 2021]

freeze-thaw battery noun [C]
UK /ˌfriːz.θɔː ˈbæt.ᵊr.i/ US /ˌfriːz.θɑː ˈbæt̬.ɚ.i/
a type of battery where the energy in it can be frozen and stored for a long time, then thawed when it is needed

Scientists have created a battery designed for the electric grid that locks in energy for months without losing much storage capacity. The development of the “freeze-thaw battery,” which freezes its energy for use later, is a step toward batteries that can be used for seasonal storage: saving energy in one season, such as the spring, and spending it in another, like autumn.
[newsupdate.uk, 5 April 2022]

About new words

close-up of a determined young man in a racing helmet

A class act and nerves of steel: talking about people you like and admire (2)

close-up of a determined young man in a racing helmet
Fuse/Corbis/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

My last post looked at some general qualities of people we like, such as being pleasant and kind. Today’s post is about some more specific admirable qualities. Continue reading “A class act and nerves of steel: talking about people you like and admire (2)”

an elegant bathroom filled with plants

New words – 16 May 2022

an elegant bathroom filled with plants
brizmaker / iStock / Getty Images Plus

plant-flex verb
UK /ˈplɑːnt.fleks/ US /ˈplænt.fleks/
to post pictures on social media of the expensive plants you own in order to show how rich you are

Adapted from 90s US rapper slang, to “plant-flex” is the horticultural version of performatively displaying one’s wealth via the use of status symbols – in this case the status symbol might be something like a variegated monstera. The idea that a humble houseplant can now be equated to a sports car or fat wad of cash might seem surprising, but single leaf nodes of some must-have species now sell for tens of thousands of pounds on online auction sites.
[theguardian.com, 3 April 2022]

proplifting noun [U]
UK /ˈprɒp.lɪf.tɪŋ/ US /ˈprɑːp.lɪf.tɪŋ/
from “propagating” and “shoplifting”: the activity of picking up stems and roots that are lying on the floor of a plant shop, garden centre etc. and taking them home to try to grow them into new plants

Proplifting in its classic form sees devotees collecting cuttings or leaf droppings from the floors of shops or stores and growing them out in their own homes … Granted, it’s a bit of a legal and ethical grey area, but the community of proplifters online is huge and growing. They argue that their love for plants gives otherwise discarded plant babies a second shot at life. Proplifting doesn’t have to take place in shops though. Wandering the streets, you are likely to come across plants that are ripe for a little haircut in public spaces.
[thelatch.com.au, 8 March 2021]

green laird noun [C]
UK /ˌgriːn ˈleəd/ US /ˌgriːn ˈlerd/
a person or company that buys a large piece of land in Scotland and plants trees on it to compensate for things they do that harm the environment

A land reform campaigner has warned of businesses buying up land in Scotland to offset their carbon emissions rather than reducing what they emit. The so-called “green lairds” have peatland restored or land planted with thousands of trees. But Andy Wightman, a former MSP, said the practice did not go far enough to tackle climate change … Green laird is a term that has been used to describe a business buying thousands of acres of land to plant with trees to help it achieve net zero.
[bbc.co.uk/news, 10 December 2021]

About new words

a Bernese Mountain Dog barking

Howling, mewing and snorting (Animal sounds, Part A)

a Bernese Mountain Dog barking
Jill Lehmann Photography/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

A reader of this blog recently requested a post on animal sounds. When I looked into the subject, I was struck by the huge range of very specific words in the English language for the various noises that animals and birds make. Accordingly, this is a post in two parts, A and B. Here, in Part A, we start by considering words for the different noises that dogs make. Continue reading “Howling, mewing and snorting (Animal sounds, Part A)”

a businessman working on a laptop at night

New words – 9 May 2022

a businessman working on a laptop at night
Andy Smith / Image Source / Getty

sleepless elite noun [U]
/ˌsliːp.ləs iˈliːt/
the small percentage of people who need very little sleep

One of the most famous sleep experts in Singapore … doesn’t really buy the idea of the “sleepless elite”, a term coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe a supposed 1 to 3 percent of the world’s population who require less sleep. He says there are stages of sleep that one needs to undergo in order to feel refreshed the next day – and four hours is simply too short for these stages to run their course.
[herworld.com, 21 March 2020]

time millionaire noun [C]
UK /ˌtaɪm mɪl.jəˈneəʳ/ US /ˌtaɪm mɪl.jəˈner/
someone who places more importance on the amount of free time they have than on how much money they earn

Writer Nilanjana Roy coined the term “time millionaires,” or people that “measure their worth not in terms of financial capital, but according to the seconds, minutes, and hours they claw back from employment for leisure and recreation.” Time millionaires view a job simply as a way to keep a roof over their head and value their time more than tangible wealth.
[thomasnet.com, 18 November 2021]

stresslaxation noun [U]
/ˌstres.lækˈseɪ.ʃᵊn/
a feeling of stress that you experience when you try to relax

Even though stresslaxation is a new term, it describes relaxation-induced anxiety, which has been studied for years. This is shown to happen to between 30% and 50% of people when they try to do relaxing things, causing symptoms of stress (such as rapid heart beat or sweating). It’s paradoxical, given that people who experience stresslaxation may need to do something relaxing to de-stress.
[fastcompany.com, 11 April 2022]

About new words

two older men laughing together in a park

Laid-back, likeable and jovial : talking about people you like and admire (1)

two older men laughing together in a park
triloks/E+/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

After three posts on criticizing people’s character flaws, it’s definitely time to balance that with some vocabulary for praising those we admire! Continue reading “Laid-back, likeable and jovial : talking about people you like and admire (1)”

a young man relaxing on a lawn wearing headphones

New words – 2 May 2022

a young man relaxing on a lawn wearing headphones
JohnnyGreig / E+ / Getty

tang ping noun [S]
/ˌtæŋ ˈpɪŋ/
a Chinese term meaning “lie flat” that describes a trend where people reject the pressure to work long hours in a stressful job, and instead adopt a more relaxed lifestyle

Young people in China exhausted by a culture of hard work with seemingly little reward are highlighting the need for a lifestyle change by “lying flat”. The new trend, known as “tang ping”, is described as an antidote to society’s pressures to find jobs and perform well while working long shifts … The idea behind “tang ping” – not overworking, being content with more attainable achievements and allowing time to unwind – has been praised by many.
[bbc.co.uk/news, 3 June 2021]

WFC noun [U]
abbreviation for “working from cafés”: the activity of working remotely from a café rather than travelling to an office or working from home

Working from cafés (WFC) is probably also set to become a more prominent part of what we do … WFC is popular in places that have agile workforces and for freelance workers without a permanent office. But any office workers with a laptop have found it useful too. The flexibility of working unmonitored in a pleasant space often gives people the sense of freedom from standard workplace norms, and a connection to the world in which we live.
[www.sydney.edu.au/business/news-and-events, 7 September 2020]

jobfishing noun [U]
UK /ˈdʒɒb.fɪʃ.ɪŋ/ US /ˈdʒɑːb.fɪʃ.ɪŋ/
the illegal practice of recruiting people to work for a company that does not exist in order to trick them into sending their personal information and working without being paid

In jobfishing scams skilled, experienced professionals are taken in by fake companies and asked to pay money or share personal details before starting work. However, the impacts go beyond the financial. “The repercussions are terrible because not only can you lose money, you can have your identity stolen or completely derail your career,” McLean continues … “Jobfishing can take so much of your key information away from you, which can then be used in identity fraud or sold on.”
[www.stylist.co.uk, 30 March 2022]

About new words