New words – 16 September 2019

TARIK KIZILKAYA / E+ / Getty Images

life extensionist noun [C]
someone who tries to find ways of making people live longer to the point when they become immortal

Life extensionists have become a fervent and increasingly vocal bunch. Famously, the community includes venture capitalists and Silicon Valley billionaires … who consider death undesirable and appear to have made so much money they require infinite life in which to spend it.
[The Observer Magazine, 23 June 2019]

patient influencer noun [C]
UK /ˌpeɪ.ʃᵊnt.ˈɪn.flu.ən.səʳ/ US /ˌpeɪ.ʃᵊnt.ˈɪn.flu.ən.sɚ/
someone who is paid by a pharmaceutical company to review or promote its products on social media sites such as Instagram

With respect to Instagram advertising, this can be problematic because a consumer might associate a product with an influencer’s entire feed rather than the information presented in a single ad. To add insult to injury, some patient influencers — who have every financial incentive to promote their products “authentically” — may omit critical health information, thus deceiving potential patients.
[, 15 February 2019]

gender health gap noun [C]
UK /ˌdʒen.də.ˈhelθ.gæp/ US /ˌdʒen.dɚ.ˈhelθ.gæp/
the inequality in the way that men and women experience the healthcare system

The gender health gap is varied and complex — it’s less a case of outright sexism, more entrenched societal values — but, ultimately, the statistics suggest women’s lives are being put at risk.
[, 22 May 2019]

About new words

Couch potatoes and peas in a pod: more food idioms

FuatKose / E+ / Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

Last month, we looked at idioms featuring words for sweet items of food. Changing the order in which we usually eat food, (savoury, then sweet), we’re now focusing on idioms that feature words for savoury (UK)/savory (US) food. Continue reading “Couch potatoes and peas in a pod: more food idioms”

New words – 9 September 2019

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hound pound noun [U]
the money that dog owners as a group spend on their pets

Pet-friendly tourism, or the hound pound, is an extremely lucrative market – worth over £4bn and growing all the time. Dog Friendly Perthshire will provide a real opportunity for tourism businesses to expand their pet-friendly potential and boost the area’s tourism.
[, 27 April 2018]

sleeponomics noun [U]
UK /ˌsliːp.ɪ.ˈnɒm.ɪks/ US /ˌsliːp.ɪ.ˈnɑː.mɪks/
the money that is spent on products, techniques, etc. that are designed to help people sleep better

The latest commodity we’re being persuaded to invest in is products to help us sleep, fuelled by a booming sleeponomics industry in a sleep-deprived South Korea. But while it may seem like we’re getting a lot less shut-eye than we used to in the UK, according to most research we’re not getting any less now than we have done in recent history.
[, 19 September 2018]

homebody economy noun [U]
UK /ˈhəʊm.bɒd.i.iˌkɒn.ə.mi/ US /ˈhoʊm.bɑː.di.iˌkɑː.nə.mi/
the money spent and earned through the production and sale of products, such as takeaway foods, aimed at people who mostly stay at home in the evenings

As you get older, you start to realise that having cool, fun New Year’s Eve plans is overrated. And now brands are starting to realise that, too. As part of a larger effort to capitalise on the “homebody economy” — or millennials who prefer to stay at home and spend money on self-care items rather than go out — services such as Netflix and Domino’s Pizza are launching promotional campaigns on Instagram and Twitter explicitly targeted at the stay-at-home crowd.
[, 29 December 2018]

About new words

Eggs are in aisle 3: the language of supermarket shopping

Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Food shopping is something that nearly all of us do, and it is the kind of basic topic that is often quite difficult in another language. This post looks at some words and phrases you might need if you go to a supermarket in an English-speaking country. Note that — as so often with everyday language —  there are lots of differences between UK and US vocabulary. Continue reading “Eggs are in aisle 3: the language of supermarket shopping”

New words – 2 September 2019

jacktheflipper / iStock / Getty Images Plus

homework therapist noun [C]
UK /ˈhəʊm.wɜːk.θer.ə.pɪst/ US /ˈhoʊm.wɝːk.θer.ə.pɪst/
someone whose job is to help students with their schoolwork and exams and to help them deal with issues such as stress and anxiety

Homework therapist? Yes, you read that correctly. It is a growing educational trend in the US, with parents paying fees of $150 to $600 (£115 to £465) for regular sessions of up to 75 minutes. In succeed-at-all costs New York, where parents will do almost anything to get their offspring in pole position on the starting grid of life, paying hundreds of dollars an hour for this specialised and individual approach may be no big deal.
[The Times, 8 September 2018]

break-up concierge noun [C]
UK /ˈbreɪk.ʌp.kɒn.sieəʒ/ US /ˈbreɪk.ʌp.kɑːn.siˈerʒ/
a person or company whose job is to help someone after their relationship has ended, such as by finding new accommodation for them

Onward is a break-up concierge – now, you may be asking yourself, what is a breakup concierge? Is it just someone who delivers you ice cream until you’re ready to move on? Well, kind of. There may not be ice cream, but they are dedicated to helping you through a breakup and getting your life started again – and maybe you can request some ice cream on the side.
[, 25 February 2019]

data humanist noun [C]
UK /ˌdeɪ.tə.ˈhjuː.mə.nɪst/ US /ˌdeɪ.t̬ə.ˈhjuː.mə.nɪst/
someone who presents information in a way that is beautiful to look at and tells a story

The information designer and data humanist Giorgia Lupi describes her profession as “telling stories with data,” which sounds like an oxymoron, until you see her work … Her work, consistent with her upbringing, brings a tactile feel to computer code, and her appointment is an occasion to assess information design — a field located between graphic design and data science — and the possibilities it holds.
[The New Yorker, 25 May 2019]

About new words

Pieces of cake and sour grapes: food idioms

Angela Bax / Moment / Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

This week, we’re looking at English idioms that feature food and drink words. As there are lots of these idioms, we’re focusing today on idioms containing words for sweet food. Next month, we’ll publish a post on savoury (UK) or savory (US) food idioms.

Continue reading “Pieces of cake and sour grapes: food idioms”

New words – 26 August 2019

Wivoca / iStock / Getty Images Plus

tiny house noun [C]
a very small home (measuring less than 37 square metres) whose residents are usually supporters of the Tiny House movement, which promotes a simpler, less materialistic lifestyle

Living large is officially a thing of the past. Settling in a tiny house is more than just a trend – it’s a lifestyle choice that people all over the country are happily taking up. Although many structures can measure less than 300 feet, with ideas this stylish and innovative, small-sized homes are anything but a sacrifice.
[Country Living, 9 January 2019]

co-ho noun [U]
UK /ˈkəʊ.həʊ/ US /ˈkoʊ.hoʊ/
abbreviation for co-housing: a system where several people buy neighbouring houses at the same time and start a community where facilities are shared

The “co-ho” concept has many variations; it usually means a group of like-minded people clubbing together to find a site and then designing and building their own homes. Often co-housing developments have shared spaces and may be aimed at a particular interest group.
[, 8 May 2019]

microflat noun [C]
UK /ˈmaɪ.krəʊ.flæt/ US /ˈmaɪ.kroʊ.flæt/
a very small apartment, usually found in large cities where there is not enough housing for all the people who live there

A first-time buyer has forked out £285,000 on a microflat the size of a caravan in a bid to get on the London property ladder. Lissa Cardell, 32, bought her minuscule apartment in Croydon just over a year ago and says she is happy to compromise on space because it is “completely her own”.
[, 11 October 2018]

About new words

Rising sea levels, endangered species and renewable energy: talking about climate change

Olaf Kruger / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

I’ve written a couple of posts on collocations (word partners) recently, and a reader suggested some specific collocation topics, one of which was the environment. Climate change is in the news a lot, particularly because of the campaigning of the Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg. So here are some collocations to help you talk about this vitally important topic.

Continue reading “Rising sea levels, endangered species and renewable energy: talking about climate change”

New words – 19 August 2019

J.P.Andersen Images / Moment / Getty

Steve noun [U]
the nickname for a recently discovered natural appearance of purple lights in the sky, similar to the aurora borealis and aurora australis

Featuring an elongated purple stream and sometimes a green, picket fence-like structure, this odd illumination can be seen lingering at latitudes far lower than typical aurorae. Bemused space physicists couldn’t ascertain whether the entity was a genuine aurora, albeit a weirdly shaped one, or something else entirely. Now, research suggests that perhaps neither answer is correct: Steve could instead be an electrical hybrid.[, 3 May 2019]

Goldilocks star noun [C]
UK /ˈgəʊl.dɪ.lɒks.ˌstɑːʳ/ US /ˈgoʊl.di.lɑːks.ˌstɑːr/
a type of star that astronomers consider has exactly the right combination of features to support life

Astronomers want to know which stars are the most likely to have habitable planets. These stars can be thought of as Goldilocks stars that are just right – at least in some ways – for potentially life-supporting planets. … A new peer-reviewed study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters … might help to narrow down the search for Goldilocks stars.
[, 17 March 2019]

space grease noun [U]
a particular type of matter found in space made up of molecules of carbon with a greasy consistency

A team of eight scientists recreated and analyzed material similar to interstellar dust, and used it to estimated how many grease-like carbon molecules … are in interstellar space, beyond the bounds of our solar system. The estimated amount of “space grease” in the Milky Way far exceeded expectations: 10 billion trillion trillion tonnes – or enough to fill 40 trillion trillion trillion packs of butter.
[, 28 June 2018]

About new words

Absorbing and thought-provoking: words meaning ‘interesting’

Laura Kate Bradley / Moment / Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

On this blog, we often look at the various English words and phrases that we use to express the same concept. This week we’re focusing on the word ‘interesting’. There are lots of synonyms (or rather, ‘near-synonyms’) for this adjective but most carry an extra meaning. In this post, I’ll try to show the differences in meaning between these near-synonyms and provide you with a range of ‘interesting’ vocabulary!

Continue reading “Absorbing and thought-provoking: words meaning ‘interesting’”