Today’s post is about words and phrases that express the idea of things improving or being improved. The most common way to talk about improvement is to say that something gets better or that we make something better:
The weather was terrible earlier, but it’s getting better now.
vegetable butchernoun [C] UK /ˈvedʒ.tə.bᵊl.ˌbʊtʃ.əʳ/ US /ˈvedʒ.tə.bᵊl.ˌbʊtʃ.ɚ/ a person who prepares vegetables in a shop
But these days butchery need not involve meat at all, as Harrods has unveiled a new “vegetable butcher” as part of its extended foodhall. … Just like regular butchers, so-called vegetable butchers stand behind glass counters, offer before-your-eyes precision chopping, and can concoct the perfect seasoning for every dish. [www.telegraph.co.uk, 1 November 2018]
planetary health dietnoun [U] UK /ˌplæn.ɪ.tər.i.ˈhelθ.daɪ.ət/ US /ˌplæn.ɪ.ter.i.ˈhelθ.daɪ.ət/ a way of eating that aims to give everyone in the world enough food to eat without damaging the planet
A diet has been developed that promises to save lives, feed 10 billion people and all without causing catastrophic damage to the planet. Scientists have been trying to figure out how we are going to feed billions more people in the decades to come. Their answer – ‘the planetary health diet’ – does not completely banish meat and dairy. But it requires an enormous shift in what we pile onto our plates and turning to foods that we barely eat. [www.bbc.co.uk/news, 17 January 2019]
/læls/ abbreviation for low-alcohol, low-sugar, used to refer to a type of food or drink, or a way of eating, that contains little or no alcohol or sugar
Our tip for 2019? Watch out for the ‘No-groni’ – the LALS cousin of the Negroni (equal parts gin, campari and sweet vermouth), named ‘cocktail of the year’ by Petersham Nurseries in London. The No-groni contains the non-alcoholic versions of each spirit, and doesn’t contain a drop of the hangover. [www.afr.com, 17 December 2018]
nanogardeningnoun [U] UK /ˈnæn.əʊ.ˌgɑː.dᵊn.ɪŋ/ US /ˈnæn.oʊ.ˌgɑːr.dᵊn.ɪŋ/ small-scale gardening, for example growing plants on a balcony or patio
Nanogardening: have you heard of it? It’s what many new to the hobby of gardening are engaging in these days. Gardening, but on a micro-scale. For those with only very small spaces, such as a balcony or kitchen countertop, in which to grow plants, nanogardening offers an accessible and relevant starting place for their enthusiasm for plant keeping. [www.gardencentermag.com, 9 August 2018]
turf artnoun [U] UK /tɜːf.ˈɑːt/ US /tɝːf.ˈɑːrt/ a lawn or other large area of grass that has had a pattern or image of something mown into it
‘Turf art’, as the gardeners at Wisley call it, has been decorating the lawns there for the past six years, and it still remains today one of the only locations to practise such a skill. ‘The garden team started off by doing patterns in the lawns with our Honda rotary mowers instead of traditional straight lines,’ explains Welsey Olliffe, garden manager. [www.telegraph.co.uk, 29 July 2018]
bee bricknoun [C]
/ˈbiː.brɪk/ a brick, similar in size and shape to a house brick, with holes in it to allow bees to nest
‘Each bee brick contains cavities for solitary bees to lay their eggs,’ Waitrose Garden explains. ‘Each cavity is moulded part way into the brick ensuring bees cannot enter the building. Bees lay their eggs inside the holes and seal the entrance with mud or chewed up vegetation. The offspring emerge the following spring and begin the cycle again.’ [www.countryliving.com, 9 January 2019]
For students who want to make their English as natural as possible, concentrating on collocation – the way words go together – is probably the most important thing they can do. Studies of non-native English speakers show they use simple words such as ‘bad’, ‘start’ or ‘make’ more often than first-language English speakers do. This isn’t surprising – it’s natural to learn the simplest, most common words of a language first. But one of the best ways to take your English to a more advanced level is to learn new words together with their ‘word partners’ – the words that often go with them.
Often, these collocations aren’t easy to predict. For example, you might not be able to guess that we say heavytraffic to describe a lot of traffic. Similarly, a heavysmoker is someone who smokes a lot – not a smoker who needs to lose weight! These are examples of adjective + noun collocations. A few other examples are glaringerrors (very bad and obvious errors), juicygossip (very interesting gossip), rolling hills (hills with gentle curves) and wild accusations (extreme accusations that are not based on facts).
There are other common collocation types, such as verb + noun collocations. Many of you will already know that people commit crimes instead of ‘do’ crimes or ‘make’ crimes. Sometimes verb + noun collocations use more advanced English, and so it is much more impressive to use a great collocation. For example, something might ‘cause speculation’ or ‘be a challenge’, but your English will sound much more impressive if you can say that something promptsspeculation or poses a challenge.
Look out for adverb + adjective collocations too. There are several combinations used for emphasis, such as bitterlydisappointed or blindinglyobvious. Sometimes these collocations add emphasis by highlighting the meaning of the adjective, as in freely available (easy to get), and sometimes they limit the meaning of the adjective, as in vaguely aware (aware but not clearly).
Try to get into the habit of thinking about collocation whenever you learn a new word. For instance, if you learn a noun, ask yourself, ‘What verb do I need to use this noun?’ or ‘Which adjectives typically describe this noun?’ A good learner’s dictionaries, such as the one on this site, will give a lot of help with collocation. When you look up a word, look at the example sentences. Any parts in bold type are typical collocations, and therefore worth learning. I intend to write more about collocation over the next few weeks – do let me know if there are any particular areas you would like me to cover.
waste breadnoun [U]
/weɪst.ˈbred/ bread that is made partly with crumbs from leftover bread
On Thursday the first 100 loaves of “waste bread” … will go on sale in 10 selected branches of Gail’s Bakery … Roughly one-third of each baked 750g loaf consists of leftover bread and the chain calculates that the 100 loaves being baked daily will save approximately 10kg of bread being wasted per day. [www.theguardian.com, 5 October 2018]
sandonoun [C] UK /ˈsæn.dəʊ/ US /ˈsæn.doʊ/ a type of sandwich made with soft white bread, originating in Japan
“You have to use very fresh, soft, white supermarket bread that mimics the enriched white bread used traditionally in Japan. We know white bread isn’t healthy but here it works because something like sourdough has far too much flavour. Sandos are inverted sandwiches, in a way, because the point is to savour the filling and get almost no flavour from the bread.” [www.telegraph.co.uk, 4 September 2018]
proatsnoun [pl] UK /prəʊts/ US /proʊts/ oats (a type of grain often cooked and eaten for breakfast) with added protein
Protein oatmeal (AKA proats) is the nutritious breakfast that’s been missing from your mornings. Mixing protein and oats together makes for a tasty and, most importantly, filling breakfast, keeping hunger pangs at bay till lunch time. [us.myprotein.com, 30 November 2017]
/bə.ˈkuːtʃɪ.əl/ an ingredient that occurs naturally in a plant and is used in skincare with the aim of preventing wrinkles
A plant extract suitable for vegans, bakuchiol offers the same anti-ageing and rejuvenating properties as retinol, but without the irritating side effects. Derived from the “babchi” plant, this natural ingredient is great to include in your skincare routine if you love the idea of retinol, but your skin can’t handle its potent properties. [www.lookfantastic.com, 16 January 2019]
/ˈtwiːk.mənt/ a cosmetic procedure that is carried out by a trained specialist but does not involve surgery
“Women are no longer having to go under the knife for a more youthful look, and patients are increasingly opting for swift, non-surgical procedures,” advises Baiarda. “Lunchtime procedures with minimum recovery time are increasingly popular with young, professional women in their twenties, thirties and forties. At my clinic there has been a 300 per cent surge in lunchtime tweakments in the past year.” [The Telegraph, 11 December 2018]
skip-carenoun [U] UK /ˈskɪp.keəʳ/ US /ˈskɪp.ker/ a skincare routine that uses a limited number of products, all of which have essential ingredients for healthy skin
Have you heard of skip-care? A trend amongst Korean millennials for finding multi-functional products which cover all bases for a more streamlined approach to skincare, it hails from Seoul (which, it has to be said, was the origin of the laborious 12-step skincare regimes that gave us this problem in the first place). [Vogue UK, 6 November 2018]
/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 paralysisnoun [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 taxnoun [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]
blokebusternoun [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-oldadjective 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 literaturenoun [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]
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:
/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]
cyberhoardingnoun [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]
predictaliticsnoun [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]