It’s just so difficult! How to use the word ‘just’

Audtakorn Sutarmjam/EyeEm/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

Just is a really annoying word for learners of English! It’s very common and we use it in lots of different situations, often with quite different meanings. In this post, I will try to explain some of the most common ways in which we use it – not only on its own, but as a part of some common phrases.

We often use just to talk about when something happens. It can mean ‘a very short time ago’ or ‘very recently’:

I’ve just spoken to Tom. (UK)/I just spoke to Tom. (US)

They had just arrived in London. Continue reading “It’s just so difficult! How to use the word ‘just’”

New words – 18 March 2019

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Mamri noun [C]
/ˈmæmrɪ/
abbreviation for middle-aged man with a running injury: a man who takes up running in middle age and suffers an injury, often due to his belief that he is fitter than he actually is

Men were 45 percent more likely than women to be injured. The scientists put this down to the Mamris’ tendency to follow homemade over-ambitious training plans which put too much strain on their creaking bodies … ‘Men tend to get injured due to training errors, increasing pace and distance too quickly when they are training for an event’.
[Runner’s World (forums), 4 June 2018]

pyjama paralysis noun [U]
/pɪˈdʒɑː.mə.pəˈræl.ə.sɪs/
a condition in which an ill person, especially someone in a hospital, develops certain health problems as a result of spending too much time in bed and not enough time moving around

The chief nursing office for England, Professor Jane Cummings, has called on all health and care organisations in the country to take part in the campaign to end so-called “pyjama paralysis”. The #EndPJparalysis challenge aims to achieve one million patient days of relevant patients being dressed in day clothes and moving around over a 70-day period.
[Nursing Times, 17 April 2018]

sausage tax noun [C]
UK /ˈsɒs.ɪdʒ.tæks/ US /ˈsɑː.sɪdʒ.tæks/
an amount of money added to the price of processed meats, such as bacon and sausages, and paid to the government with the aim of reducing the consumption of these foods and therefore the associated health problems

A new meat tax may be on the way, which is already being dubbed the ‘sausage tax’, in a bid to encourage us to eat less processed meat. Under the proposed tax, a £2.50 packet of sausages would cost £4.47 which, like the recently introduced sugary drinks tax before it, would in theory drive down sales of sausages and bacon.
[The Telegraph, 7 November 2018]

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Don’t hold your breath! The language of planning, part 2

Utamaru Kido/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Last month we looked at the language of planning and making arrangements. Sadly, not everything in life goes according to plan (=happens as intended) and it is wise to keep this in mind when making arrangements! This post, then, focuses on planning words and phrases that relate to problems.

A contingency is something that you know might happen in the future which would cause problems and require further arrangements:

We must prepare for all contingencies.

A contingency plan is a plan that can be used if a problem arises (=happens):

Fortunately, a contingency plan was in place for dealing with such emergencies. Continue reading “Don’t hold your breath! The language of planning, part 2”

New words – 11 March 2019

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blokebuster noun [C]
UK /ˈbləʊk.bʌs.təʳ/ US /ˈbloʊk.bʌs.tɚ/
a book, usually one that sells a large number of copies, aimed particularly at men

Readers weary of blokebusters … will be relieved to learn that a new novel by Kate Atkinson is also due out on Thursday … An early review in London’s Evening Standard described it as a ‘terrific page-turner’.
[The Times, 2 September 2018]

coming-of-old adjective
UK /ˌkʌm.ɪŋ.əv.ˈəʊld/ US /ˌkʌm.ɪŋ.əv.ˈoʊld/
referring to a book or literary genre that focuses on the growth of a main character as they enter old age

She added: ‘It’s a coming-of-old tale which is a totally new genre, we are all living for longer, we have all this extra time and that’s what Beth’s story tells. Everybody can take something from the story. Very few books can be given to your mum, your granny and your children, it works across generations.’
[www.telegraph.co.uk, 14 October 2018]

ambient literature noun [U]
UK /ˌæm.bi.ənt.ˈlɪt.rə.tʃəʳ/ US /ˌæm.bi.ənt.ˈlɪt̬.ɚ.ə.tʃɚ/
books that are read on an electronic device such as a tablet and which use information about the current date and time, the reader’s location, weather conditions etc. to personalise the experience for the reader

But what say the reading purists? Those who recoil from the mere sight of a Kindle and love nothing more than the smell of a dusty library book. Is ambient literature too far removed from the real pleasures of reading? The initial creators of the genre think that to preserve literature in the digital age, it is crucial to move it forward and appeal to younger, digital-native readers.
[Metro, 10 October 2018]

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It slipped my mind: words and phrases connected with forgetting

UpperCut Images/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

Back in 2015, my colleague Kate Woodford wrote a post about words connected with remembering. Today’s post looks at the opposite: words and phrases for forgetting.

It is surprising that for such an important concept, there aren’t really any direct, one-word synonyms for the verb ‘forget’. A slightly formal way to talk about forgetting is to say that you have no memory/recollection of something:

We lived in Russia when I was a baby, but I have no memory of that time. Continue reading “It slipped my mind: words and phrases connected with forgetting”

New words – 4 March 2019

 

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voiceprint noun [C]
/ˈvɔɪs.prɪnt/
the unique characteristics of a person’s voice, used as a form of identification

The companies behind this technology say that a voiceprint includes more than 100 unique physical and behavioural characteristics of each individual, such as length of the vocal tract, nasal passage, pitch, accent and so on. They claim it is as unique to an individual as a fingerprint, and that their systems even recognise people if they have a cold or sore throat.
[The Guardian, 22 September 2018]

cyberhoarding noun [U]
UK /ˈsaɪ.bəhɔː.dɪŋ/ US /ˈsaɪ.bɚhɔːr.dɪŋ/
a psychological condition where someone finds it impossible to delete unwanted or old data from their computer or other device

You might laugh, but cyberhoarding has become a problem for me and many others. It is one of several new mental health problems that researchers believe is being fuelled by the internet and social media. A new team, named the European Problematic Use of the Internet Research Network, this week said it would examine the condition to measure its long-term impact on web users.
[The Telegraph, 10 October 2018]

predictalitics noun [U]
UK /prɪ.dɪk.tə.ˈlɪt.ɪks/ US /prɪ.dɪk.tə.ˈlɪt̬.ɪks/
a process in which a computer examines all the data available on someone and uses it to predict what diseases they are at risk of

As part of the NHS’s 100,000 Genome Project volunteers are being proactively screened to build up one of the largest DNA databases in the world, which researchers and clinicians will be able to use to fine tune this ‘predictalitics’ technique.
[The Telegraph, 7 May 2018]

About new words

New words – 25 February 2019

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dooring noun [U]
/ˈdɔː.rɪŋ/
a type of road traffic accident caused by someone in a car opening the door without checking it is safe to do so, causing a collision with another road user

I found 10 sources in cities in North America, plus one from Australia, that include dooring incidents, unlike official crash data. These police, hospital, insurance or EMS reports indicate that dooring accounts for 12 to 27 percent of urban car-bike collisions, making it one of the most common crash types.
[cyclingsavvy.org, 29 August 2018]

mistake fare noun [C]
UK /mɪˈsteɪk.feər/ US /mɪˈsteɪk.fer/
a very low price charged for a flight, the result of an error in the listing on the airline’s website

Although Air New Zealand ended up cancelling and refunding the tickets, mistake fares over the last few years, from $225 round-trips to New Zealand to $66 one-ways from the Maldives, have frequently been honoured by airlines. The lucky flyers who enjoyed unbelievably affordable travel didn’t deploy any shifty tricks to get them, either.
[www.independent.co.uk, 9 February 2018]

vomit fraud noun [U]
UK /ˈvɒm.ɪt.frɔːd/ US /ˈvɑː.mɪt.frɑːd/
a type of deception where a driver of an Uber taxi falsely claims that a passenger has vomited in their car and adds an extra charge to the passenger’s bill for cleaning costs

One Uber driver, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Herald people have been committing vomit fraud for a long time. “Many people don’t review their emails or credit card statements, so the drivers wind up pocketing the $80 or $150,” she added.
[www.mirror.co.uk, 24 July 2018]

About new words

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. 
[www.petbusiness.com, 4 May 2017]

Continue reading “New words – 18 February 2019”

New words – 11 February 2019

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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

New words – 4 February 2019

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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.
[www.independent.co.uk, 28 March 2018]

About new words