New words – 18 February 2019

Jamie Garbutt / DigitalVision / GettyImages

DoggoLingo noun [U]
UK /ˌdɒg.əʊ.ˈlɪŋ.gəʊ/ US /ˌdɑː.goʊ.ˈlɪŋ.goʊ/
a special language used on the internet, especially on social media sites, to refer to and describe dogs and their behaviour

If you’re not already familiar with DoggoLingo, chances are you will be soon. This internet-based dialect was born on social media and has grown into a whole vocabulary for describing members of the canine species, from doggo to floof to pupperino. 
[, 4 May 2017]

Continue reading “New words – 18 February 2019”

Hangry and bromance (Blend or portmanteau words)


by Kate Woodford

Our Cambridge Dictionary Facebook page recently featured a post on portmanteau words or blends. These are words formed by combining two other words, such as Brexit (short for ‘British exit’) and brunch (a combination of ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).

Some blends have existed for a long time. ‘Brunch’, for instance, originated as long ago as the late 19th century. Others were invented more recently. (Although it sometimes seems as if the word ‘Brexit’ has existed forever, it was actually invented as recently as 2012!) Here we look at relatively recent blends in the English language.

Let’s start with food and eating. The blend flexitarian (=flexible + vegetarian) reflects a recent trend away from meat eating. It refers to a person who eats mainly vegetarian food and only now and then eats meat: On page 5, ten health benefits of a flexitarian diet.

The word mocktail, (=mock + cocktail) which has been around a little longer, means ‘a cocktail containing no alcohol’: Customers can enjoy a range of cocktails and mocktails.

Meanwhile, a person who is feeling a little angry or impatient because they haven’t eaten for a while may now be described informally as hangry (= hungry + angry): Just before lunch, he tends to get a bit hangry.

As you might imagine, fashion has generated blends. Jeggings (= jeans + leggings) are tight trousers made from a stretchy material that looks like denim: I went for comfort – jeggings and a sweatshirt.

Skort or skorts (=skirt + shorts), meanwhile, refers to a pair of shorts with a piece of material across the front that gives the appearance of a skirt: I wear a skort for tennis.

Leisure also has a few recent blend words. In the UK, glamping (=glamorous + camping) refers to a more luxurious and stylish form of camping that involves comfortable chairs and beds, heating, etc: Browse our range of glamping options. 

A staycation (=stay + vacation) is a holiday that you take at home or near your home, rather than a long distance away: There’s always the more economical staycation option.

Cosplay (=costume + play) is the activity of dressing as and pretending to be a character from a film, comic book, etc: Cosplay conventions have become big business.

A blend that is often heard in relation to celebrities and other public figures is bromance. This informal term – a blend of ‘bro’/‘brother’ and ‘romance’ – refers humorously to a close, friendly relationship between two men. The apparent bromance between the two leaders has been remarked on in the press.

Continuing with men, the disapproving term mansplain (=man + explain) has emerged in the past few years. If a man mansplains to a woman, he explains something that she already understands: I’ve just had a guy mansplain my own job to me!

Have you heard or read any other blend words recently?


New words – 11 February 2019

monkeybusinessimages/ iStock/Getty Images Plus/GettyImages

landmarkation noun [C]
UK /ˌlænd.mɑːk.ˈeɪ.ʃᵊn/ US /ˌlænd.mɑːrk.ˈeɪ.ʃᵊn/
a holiday taken by a large group, usually a family, to celebrate a significant birthday (such as a 50th or 60th) of one of the members

Would I recommend the “landmarkation” for others? I think that very much depends on the family in question. We are exceptionally lucky in that, as a group, we all get on, and those without kids were so patient and understanding with the little ones. It was a joy to see.
[The Sunday Times, 26 August 2018]

poshtel noun [C]
UK /ˈpɒʃ.təl/ US /ˈpɑːʃ.təl/
a type of hostel that offers more comfortable or luxurious accommodation than usual

Southeast Asia has plenty of untapped potential for poshtels, with set-up costs lower than in other regions, rents cheaper, a growing number of budget airlines and a history of attracting large numbers of budget travellers.
[South China Morning Post, 13 January 2018]

bubble hotel noun [C]
UK /ˈbʌb.əl.həʊˈtel/ US /ˈbʌb.əl.hoʊˈtel/
a hotel with spherical or near-spherical rooms made entirely of glass or transparent plastic

Luxury meets outdoor living at ATTRAP’RÊVES, a unique bubble hotel tucked away in the picturesque countryside of Marseille. Here, guests are invited to sleep beneath the stars in inflatable plastic bubbles … Each individually decorated unit is conveniently secluded and comes with a completely opaque bathroom and a telescope for stargazing.
[Travel Away, 7 June 2018]

About new words

Library or bookshop? Fabric or factory? Avoiding common false friends

by Liz Walter


Sometimes words look the same or similar in two different languages but have different meanings. We call these words ‘false friends’ because they seem as though they will be ‘friendly’ and easy to learn, but they trick us into making mistakes. In this post, I will discuss a few false friends with English: I have tried to pick ones that are problematic for speakers of several other languages. Continue reading “Library or bookshop? Fabric or factory? Avoiding common false friends”

New words – 4 February 2019

Thomas M Scheer / EyeEm / Getty

rosehip neuron noun [C]
UK /ˌrəʊz.hɪp.ˈnjʊə.rɒn/ US /ˌroʊz.hɪp.ˈnʊr.ɑːn/
a type of human brain cell with a distinctive appearance that looks similar to a rosehip (the fruit of the rose plant)

One reason rosehip neurons eluded neuroscientists for so long is likely because the cells are so rare in the brain, Bakken said. Another reason, he added, is because human brain tissue is difficult for scientists to obtain for study. Indeed, in the study, the researchers examined only one layer of the brain. It’s possible, however, that rosehip neurons could be found in other layers, too, Bakken said.
[Live Science, 27 August 2018]

scutoid noun [C]
UK /ˈskjuː.tɔɪd/ US /ˈskuː.tɔɪd/
a three-dimensional shape found in skin cells

What matters is that mathematicians had never before conceived of the scutoid, much less given it a name. What matters even more is that scutoids turn out to be everywhere, especially in living things. The shape, however odd, is a building block of multicellular organisms; complex life might never have emerged on Earth without it.
[The New Yorker, 30 July 2018]

interstitium noun [C]
UK /ɪn.təˈstɪʃ.əm/ US /ɪn.tɚˈstɪʃ.əm/
a human organ made up of spaces filled with fluid situated in and between tissue and other organs

Remarkably, the interstitium had previously gone unnoticed despite being one of the largest organs in the human body … The researchers realised traditional methods for examining body tissues had missed the interstitium because the “fixing” method for assembling medical microscope slides involves draining away fluid – therefore destroying the organ’s structure.
[, 28 March 2018]

About new words

It makes my blood boil! (The language of anger)

Tania Bondar/iStock/Getty Images Plus/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Anger solves nothing, or so they say. Whether or not this is true, we all feel angry now and then. You probably already know the angry synonyms annoyed and irritated, but perhaps you’d like a more interesting range of expressions to describe this feeling? If so, read on! Continue reading “It makes my blood boil! (The language of anger)”

New words – 28 January 2019

Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty

Blue Monday
noun [C]
the third Monday in January, said to be the most depressing day of the year

Arnall devised a literal mathematical formula to arrive at the Blue Monday theory. It factors in weather, debt and time since Christmas, timing of New Year’s resolutions, low motivational levels, and the urgent feeling that you need to take action. It also reflects that Monday is regarded as the worst day of the week with many dreading the prospect of returning to work.
[, 15 January 2019]

Continue reading “New words – 28 January 2019”

Divulging and disclosing (The language of giving information)


by Kate Woodford

We tell each other things all the time, whether it’s our news, some important information or just interesting facts. This week we’re focusing on the language that we use to describe giving information.

Starting with a really useful phrasal verb, if you pass on a message or a piece of news that someone has told you, you tell it to someone else:

Remember to pass on my message to Ted.

No one passed the news on to me.

The verb relay means the same: He heard the announcement and immediately relayed the news to his colleagues.

Sometimes we pass on information to lots of people. The verb spread is often used for this. It frequently comes before the nouns gossip and rumour:

I hope you’re not spreading gossip, Alice!

He’d apparently been spreading rumours about her around the school.

Spread’ is also used intransitively to describe the way that information quickly becomes known by lots of people: So why does fake news spread so quickly?

The verb circulate is also used in this way: News of her retirement quickly circulated around the office.

Another verb meaning ‘to tell information to a lot of people’ is broadcast. People use it especially about information that they would prefer to be private: I’d rather my news wasn’t broadcast to the entire office!

The more formal verb disseminate is also used, but without the negative meaning: One of the organization’s aims is to disseminate information about the disease.

Other words mean ‘to give secret information’, for example reveal, divulge and (formal) disclose:

He wouldn’t reveal what was written in the letter.

When asked, she refused to divulge her salary.

They made an agreement not to disclose any details.

An informal phrasal verb with this meaning is let on. If you let on, you tell others about something secret: Please don’t let on that I told you she’s leaving!

Another phrasal verb is blurt out. If you blurt out a secret fact, you say it suddenly and without thinking, usually because you’re nervous or excited: I was supposed to be keeping it secret and then I just blurted it out!

There are two nice idioms for giving secret information. If you let the cat out of the bag or spill the beans, you tell people something that should have been secret:

I wasn’t going to tell anyone about my plans but Anita let the cat out of the bag.

So who spilled the beans about Daniel’s promotion?

Be careful what you divulge this week!

New words – 21 January 2019

Johanna Cuomo / EyeEm / Getty

green screen noun [C]
a large steel grid densely covered with ivy thought to act as a barrier to air pollution

Schools are being pressured into buying expensive ‘green screens’ to shield children from air pollution despite concerns that they are not the best solution and may make little overall difference to health … More than a dozen schools in London, Manchester and Leeds have already installed green screens and at least 30 more have applied to the Greater London Authority for grants of up to £35,000 to buy them after they were recommended by air quality audits.
[The Times, 27 October 2018]

precipitation whiplash noun [U]
UK /prɪˌsɪp.ɪˈteɪ.ʃən.ˈwɪp.læʃ/ US /priːˌsɪp.əˈteɪ.ʃən.ˈwɪp.læʃ/
a period of very dry weather followed by a period of very wet weather, thought to be caused by the effects of climate change

Abrupt transitions in California from a parched winter to a soggy one … will become more common if greenhouse gases continue to increase, according to a study published Monday in Nature Climate Change. This “precipitation whiplash” has implications for both wildfire and flood risk.
[, 23 April 2018]

climate gentrification noun [U]
UK /ˈklaɪ.mət.ˌdʒen.trɪ.fɪˈkeɪ.ʃən/ US /ˈklaɪ.mət.ˌdʒen.trə.fəˈkeɪ.ʃən/
the process by which a place that is thought to be less at risk of the effects of climate change turns from a poor area to a richer one

The study finds considerable evidence of climate gentrification, and for the elevation hypothesis in particular. Properties at high elevations have experienced rising values, while those at lower elevations have declined in value. In fact, elevation had a positive effect on price appreciation in more than three-quarters of the properties and 24 of the 25 separate jurisdictions the authors examined.
[, 11 July 2018]

About new words

The life and soul of the party (How we behave at social events)

Tara Moore/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

How do your friends behave at social events? Is one of them the life and soul of the party, chatting, laughing and dancing with everyone? Or perhaps you know a party pooper, someone who spoils other people’s enjoyment by refusing to join in and have fun. This week we’re looking at language that relates to spending time with other people socially. Continue reading “The life and soul of the party (How we behave at social events)”