small knitted models of hot air balloons hanging from a tree

New words – 27 June 2022

small knitted models of hot air balloons hanging from a tree
Topsynette / iStock / Getty Images Plus

kniffiti noun [U]
UK /nəˈfiː.ti/ US /nəˈfiː.t̬i/
knitted or sometimes crocheted items that are left in public places as decoration

A new generation of guerrilla knitters are sweeping Britain, “yarnbombing” lampposts, postboxes and fences. Those in Generation Z, roughly aged 15 to 24, are getting behind the trend, which is also known as kniffiti, where a person crochets or knits something and attaches it to public property. Young Britons are “doing kniffiti in a big way”, according to Emma Leith, who runs knitting classes across the UK.
[thetimes.co.uk, 16 April 2022]

coastal grandmother noun [U]
UK /ˌkəʊ.stᵊl ˈgræn.mʌð.əʳ/ US /ˌkoʊ.stᵊl ˈgræn.mʌð.ɚ/
a way of dressing that is inspired by the typical simple, elegant style of rich, older women who live by the sea on the east coast of the United States

Think Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give, Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated, or practically every scene in Grace and Frankie. These women have aspirational lives filled with farmers markets, glasses of white wine on the veranda, relaxing walks along the beach with the wind flowing through your linen shirt. This very specific look and feel has a name. The ‘coastal grandmother’.
[metro.co.uk, 4 April 2022]

hural noun [C]
UK /ˈhjʊə.rəl/ US /ˈhjʊr.ᵊl/
wallpaper on one wall of a room that features one large photo or picture

Forget Gwyneth’s 3D wallpaper, the bespoke mural is the ultimate in living room one-upmanship. Popularity of the home mural, aka the hural, has surged, with searches for “wall mural wallpapers” increasing by 132 per cent and “living room murals” by 48 per cent, according to Homes & Gardens magazine.
[Sunday Times, 1 May 2022]

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a pair of glasses next to a pile of old books

New words – 20 June 2022

a pair of glasses next to a pile of old books
powerofforever / iStock / Getty Images Plus

dark academia noun [U]
UK /ˌdɑːk æk.əˈdiː.mi.ə/ US /ˌdɑːrk æk.əˈdiː.mi.ə/
a style, especially of dressing, that is inspired by old universities and the people who study and teach there

Well, dark academia is about idealising the experience of learning – think libraries full of cloth-bound books, lush (and perfectly groomed) quadrangles, wire-rimmed spectacles, polished loafers and chalk cursive on blackboards … Dark academia’s ‘foundational text’ is Donna Tartt’s The Secret History – a gothic-style campus drama set in Vermont, it tells the story of an elite classics class.
[graziadaily.co.uk, 13 September 2021]

dark store noun [C]
UK /ˌdɑːk ˈstɔːʳ/ US /ˌdɑːrk ˈstɔːr/
a large shop that is not open to the public but is used to process online orders

Dark stores … look a lot like supermarkets and convenience stores, minus the trolleys and front-of-house customers … “We’ll likely see underperforming convenience outlets change to dedicated dark stores. The margins are similar, but it takes fewer people to operate a dark store than a retail store”.
[thegrocer.co.uk, 28 March 2022]

dark post noun [C]
UK /ˌdɑːk ˈpəʊst/ US /ˌdɑːrk ˈpoʊst/
a message or advertisement on a website or social media platform that cannot be seen by everyone, only by the people who are the intended target

Dark posts were first introduced when targeting capabilities on platforms like Facebook were still in their rudimentary stages … Brands and publishers used these dark posts to create a post that did not live permanently on their pages. Instead, the post would be specifically targeted to a select few members of their target audience or following. In other words, it was a kind of marketing strategy.
[billo.app, 28 October 2021]

About new words

a scientist working in a laboratory

New words – 13 June 2022

a scientist working in a laboratory
Andrew Brookes / Image Source / Getty

flu hunter noun [C]
UK /ˈfluː ˌhʌn.təʳ/ US /ˈfluː ˌhʌn.t̬ɚ/
a scientist who looks for new strains of flu so that an effective vaccine can be developed

Last month, a small group of international scientists met to decide an issue critical to the health of millions of people all over the planet. For once, it wasn’t about coronavirus, although these experts know a lot about that, too … It’s an adversary potentially as much of a threat as Covid. These scientists are the flu hunters – heads of a handful of international institutions who track this old foe as it evolves and disperses in its own fight for survival.
[theguardian.com, 19 March 2022]

treat brain noun [U]
/ˈtriːt ˌbreɪn/
a state of mind where someone constantly wants to buy things because doing so makes them feel good

“Treat brain” is a very real phenomenon … Providing our frazzled minds with distractions was another factor involved in the rise of treat brain. The hit of dopamine from buying something new helped divert our attentions from surging death tolls and shoddy government decisions.
[stylist.co.uk, 10 March 2022]

posture pandemic noun [C]
UK /ˌpɒs.tʃə pænˈdem.ɪk/ US /ˌpɒs.tʃər pænˈdem.ɪk/
the situation where a very large number of people have pain in the shoulders or back, thought to be caused by working at a computer or bending down to look at the screen of a phone or tablet

Dr Craig Mclean … has seen a rapid increase in clients seeking help for postural issues since the move to working from home was first announced. However, Mclean says that phones are actually the biggest culprit of upper body pain. Indeed, the problem is so pronounced that McClean predicts a “posture pandemic” among the younger generation. Figures from the BCA reveal that 68 per cent of chiropractors have seen an increase in children with issues linked to screen time in the last five years.
[telegraph.co.uk, 15 September 2020]

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a thermometer against a background of flames and a hot landscape

New words – 6 June 2022

a thermometer against a background of flames and a hot landscape
coffeekai / iStock / Getty Images Plus

chief heat officer noun [C]
UK /ˌtʃiːf ˈhiːt ˌɒf.ɪ.səʳ/ US /ˌtʃiːf ˈhiːt ˌɑː.fɪ.sɚ/
someone who has overall responsibility for dealing with the rising temperatures in a city caused by climate change

Miami has one – so does Athens. Now Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, has appointed Africa’s first chief heat officer – a mother on a mission to shield her city and her kids from the chaos of climate change … The 34-year-old was appointed this week to combat rising temperatures and come up with everyday ways to cool the sweltering streets of the city she has always called home.
[climatechampions.unfccc.int, 9 November 2021]

carbon insetting noun [U]
UK /ˌkɑː.bən ˈɪn.set.ɪŋ/ US /ˌkɑːr.bən ˈɪn.set̬ɪŋ/
the activity of making changes within a company to reduce the damage its activities cause to the environment

Many of us already know that carbon offsetting means investing in carbon reduction or sequestration projects in order to compensate for your own emissions. Carbon insetting is a similar idea, but the crucial difference is that the offsetting happens in an area over which your organisation has some control. For example, while traditional offsetting might involve choosing a renewables project to invest in, carbon insetting might involve setting up your own renewables project on site.
[secrhub.co.uk, 15 July 2020]

eco-city noun [C]
UK /ˈiː.kəʊˌsɪt.i/ US /ˈiː.koʊˌsɪt̬.i/
a city that has been designed to minimize the impact it has on climate change and the environment

Now, Medellin wants to reinvent itself again – this time as Latin America’s first “eco-city” with wide-ranging initiatives in renewable energy, transportation, housing, water management and waste. ​​As governments and investors around the world direct funds towards pandemic recovery efforts, cities like Medellin are taking the opportunity to simultaneously set a climate-friendly agenda for years to come.
[aljazeera.com, 31 August 2021]

About new words

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 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

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 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

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

an open combination padlock resting on top of a mobile phone

New words – 25 April 2022

an open combination padlock resting on top of a mobile phone
boonchai wedmakawand / Moment / Getty

quantum apocalypse noun [S]
UK /ˌkwɒn.təm əˈpɒk.ə.lɪps/ US /ˌkwɑːn.t̬əm əˈpɑː.kə.lɪps/
the situation where extremely powerful computers can access all encrypted data very quickly and easily, making all hidden information public

Current computers would take years, decades and even centuries to crack the encryption codes created by today’s machines, but the fact that a quantum computer could theoretically do this in “just seconds” poses an enormous cybersecurity risk. The notion of all the world’s most encrypted files – from WhatsApp messages to online banking to government data – suddenly being broken into thanks to the advent of quantum computing is known as the “quantum apocalypse”.
[theweek.co.uk, 1 February 2022]

splinternet noun [S]
UK /ˈsplɪn.tə.net/ US /ˈsplɪn.t̬ɚ.net/
the idea that there is, or could be, different versions of the internet rather than one global version, usually because the governments of some countries have blocked or restricted parts of its content

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is accelerating a technological isolation in Russia that doesn’t inflict the immediate pain of frozen bank accounts or skyrocketing prices, but could fundamentally change the way that Russians get their information and connect — or fail to connect — with the rest of the world. It’s bringing Putin’s Russia many steps closer to a so-called splinternet in which the West and Russia operate in different online spheres.
[politico.com, 4 March 2022]

TikTot noun [C]
UK /ˈtɪk.tɒt/ US /ˈtɪk.tɑːt/
a young child who uses the social media platform TikTok

A third of children aged between five and seven have a social media profile despite being under the minimum age requirement, a new study suggests. Analysis from Ofcom shows that TikTok is the most popular platform among the youngest users, who have been nicknamed TikTots. Britain’s communications watchdog found 16% of children in the UK aged three and four are already using the platform.
[uk.news.yahoo.com, 30 March 2022]

About new words