It was agony: talking about pain

seksan Mongkhonkhamsao / Moment / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

When we experience pain, it can be important to be able to describe it accurately. The most common way of talking about pain is with the verb hurt. We can say that part of our body hurts, or start a sentence with ‘It hurts …’  to explain when it is painful to do something:

My knee hurts.

It hurts to bend my knee / It hurts when I bend my knee. Continue reading “It was agony: talking about pain”

New words – 17 June 2019

Westend61 / Getty

superager noun [C]
UK /suː.pər.ˈeɪ.dʒəʳ/ US /suː.pɚ.ˈeɪ.dʒɚ/
someone over the age of 65 whose memory and thinking skills are similar to those of someone in their 20s

Her advice is based on a study of “superagers”, individuals 65 years or older, whose cognitive skills are as acute as the average 25-year-old. Barrett believes that what sets superagers apart is their ability to use the unpleasant feelings they experience when challenging themselves as a signal to keep going, rather than as a warning to stop and rest.
[www.telegraph.co.uk, 10 July 2018]

silver striver noun [C]
UK /sɪl.və.ˈstraɪvəʳ/ US /sɪl.vɚ.ˈstraɪvɚ/
someone who continues to work after they have passed the typical retirement age

Peter Stanway, 72, is helping to design a block of flats overlooking the zebra crossing that appears on the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Although he started drawing his state pension at 70, he still works between 30 and 50 hours a week and has no plans to retire until he is 80. Stanway … is part of a new demographic — the silver strivers. These are the baby boomers who, when they reached state pension age, simply kept on working.
[Sunday Times, 11 March 2018]

grey tsunami noun [S]
/greɪ.tsuːˈnɑː.mi/
the high number of elderly people in the world in the 21st century, caused by people living longer and by the “baby boomer” generation now reaching old age

We have been warned, for years, of a so-called “grey tsunami” that is about to crash into our society. … This represents a challenge for hospitals, nursing homes and families. And it comes with significant costs. Describing this demographic shift as a “grey tsunami” — with its terrifying image of a monstrous wave poised to break over our heads — is striking and urgent.
[www.cba.ca, 15 October 2017]

About new words

Bird’s-eye views and headless chickens: animal idioms, part 3

Sandra Standbridge / Moment / Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

This is the third in our popular series of blogs about common animal idioms. We’ll start with a creature that is found in a few frequently used idioms: the bird. (Sadly, the first two idioms have their origin in hunting.) If you want to say that with one single action you achieve two separate things, you might say you kill two birds with one stone:

I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and drop my coat off at the cleaner’s on the way to the library. Continue reading “Bird’s-eye views and headless chickens: animal idioms, part 3”

New words – 10 June 2019

Paul Bradbury / Caiaimage / Getty

cleanstagrammer noun [C]
UK /ˈkliːn.stə.græm.əʳ/ US /ˈkliːn.stə.græm.ɚ/
someone who posts advice and tips about housework and cleaning on the Instagram social media site

Twelve years on, Bray, 37, is better known as “The Organised Mum” to her 142,000 Instagram followers, and part of the cleanstagrammer boom sweeping across social media. Where Instagram was once full of clean-eating gurus showcasing their latest green smoothie, it’s now full of cleaning influencers … showcasing the genius cleaning hacks behind their sparkling homes.
[www.telegraph.co.uk, 1 March 2019]

sponcon noun [U]
UK /ˈspɒn.kɒn/ US /ˈspɑːn.kɑːn/
abbreviation for sponsored content: posts on social media sites such as Instagram where the poster is being paid by a company to promote its product

When done correctly, sponcon is mutually beneficial to the reader, the brand, and the influencer. With the added transparency of how much influencers can make (take a look at Zoe Sugg’s net worth, if you want to make yourself feel really bad!) it’s no wonder teenagers and young adults are intrigued by what they can do with their own social platforms.
[www.found.co.uk, 15 February 2019]

outfluencer noun [C]
UK /ˈaʊt.ˌflu.ən.səʳ/ US /ˈaʊt.ˌflu.ən.sɚ/
an influencer (someone who uses their social media posts to change the way that other people behave or the things they buy) who posts about outdoor adventure, extreme sport, etc.

Reached peak influencer? Start following some outfluencers – what we’re calling the digital answer to Bear Grylls. You’ll find them catching waves, scaling precarious rockfaces and hurtling themselves from any fixed structure. Live (vicariously) on the edge.
[Women’s Health (UK), January/February 2019]

About new words

It’s all in the mind: phrases with ‘mind’

Chris Madden / Moment / Getty Images

by Liz Walter

Since our mind is the part of us that enables us to think and feel emotions, I suppose it’s not surprising that there are lots of phrases that include it. In this post I am going to talk about some of the most common and useful phrases.

When you decide something, you make up your mind or make your mind up:

It’s time to make your mind up. Are you coming with us or not? Continue reading “It’s all in the mind: phrases with ‘mind’”

New words – 3 June 2019

Hill Street Studios /
DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

EGOT noun [C or U]
UK /ˈiː .gɒt/ US /ˈiː.gɑːt/
the achievement of winning an Emmy (TV), a Grammy (music), an Oscar (film), and a Tony (theatre), the four major entertainment awards

Composer Richard Rogers was the first to achieve EGOT status in 1962 with his Emmy for the original music he composed for television’s “Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years,” starting a tradition of composers being among the most frequent kinds of entertainment professionals to win all four awards. Actors and producers have also historically been better positioned to complete an EGOT collection.
[www.cnbc.com, 21 February 2019]

sadcom noun [C]
UK /ˈsæd.kɒm/ US /ˈsæd.kɑːm/
a type of sitcom (a funny television or radio show in which the same characters appear in each episode) that uses humour to deal with serious themes

It’s perhaps surprising, then, that series four has seen the show delve ever further into sadcom territory – popularised by the likes of Master of None, Bojack Horseman and Fleabag – as it increasingly examines the difficulties its protagonists face rather than playing up their ineptitude for lols.
[www.theguardian.com, 19 September 2017]

slow TV noun [U]
UK /ˌsləʊ.tiːˈviː/ US /ˌsloʊ.tiːˈviː/
a genre of TV programmes that usually last for several hours and show an ordinary event, such as a train journey, taking place in real time, designed to be relaxing for the viewer

Slow TV is a wildly successful phenomenon in its home country of Norway and it’s something we can totally see exploding in popularity here in the States. Essentially, Norwegian television crews strap cameras to various forms of transportation or insert them into activities and record hours-long programs. There’s no plot, cast, or season premieres and finales. Yet millions of people tune in to watch.
[coolmaterial.com, no date]

About new words

Abiding memories and long-term effects: words that mean ‘lasting a long time’

BrianAJackson / iStock / Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

Last week I posted a blog on the language we use to talk about things that last a short time. This post focuses on the opposite: describing things that last a long time.

Some adjectives simply mean ‘continuing for a long time’, such as lasting and prolonged: Continue reading “Abiding memories and long-term effects: words that mean ‘lasting a long time’”

New words – 27 May 2019

Andriy Onufriyenko / Moment / Getty

algocracy noun [U]
UK /ˌæl.ˈgɒk.rə.si/ US /ˌæl.ˈgɑː.krə.si/
a social system where people are governed and important decisions are made by computer algorithms

Robots could use vast amounts of data and an insidious knowledge of ways to manipulate human behaviour to effectively take over vast swathes of our lives in what would effectively become rule by algorithm, or an ‘algocracy’, the head of the City watchdog has warned.
[www.telegraph.co.uk, 11 July 2018]

cyberdefender noun [C]
UK /ˈsaɪ.bə.dɪfen.dəʳ/ US /ˈsaɪ.bɚ.dɪfen.dɚ/
a person who takes actions to protect a workplace from cybercrime (=crime or illegal activity that is done using the internet)

To build the best line of defense for your business, you need to take a communal approach to your cybersecurity strategy. Cybercrime is modern crime; there is no silver bullet. That’s why everybody within your company needs to be a cyberdefender.
[www.business.com, 1 November 2018]

Silicon Gorge noun [U]
UK /ˌsɪl.ɪ.kən.ˈgɔːdʒ/ US /ˌsɪl.ɪ.kən.ˈgɔːrdʒ/
a region in the southwest of England, specifically the area around the city of Bristol, where numerous tech companies are located

California may be able to boast of Silicon Valley, but in a (not so) quiet corner of southwest England lies … Silicon Gorge. Home to a growing number of exciting Bristol startups, this zone of commercial enterprise is fast becoming an aspirational hotspot for tech wizards and ambitious business leaders alike.
[www.ignite.digital, 15 September 2017]

About new words

Passing phases and fleeting glimpses: words that mean ‘brief’

Devenorr / iStock / Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

Today’s post looks at words and phrases that describe things that end after a short time. A very common adjective for this is brief. A brief activity or period of time does not last long:

We had a brief phone conversation.

For a brief period she taught in the US.

Continue reading “Passing phases and fleeting glimpses: words that mean ‘brief’”

New words – 20 May 2019

Tom Eversley / EyeEm / Getty

blood avocado noun [C]
UK /ˌblʌd.æv.əˈkɑː.dəʊ/ US /ˌblʌd.æv.əˈkɑː.doʊ/
an avocado that has been grown in an area controlled by a drug cartel (=a criminal group that produces illegal drugs) and that forces farmers to give that group a percentage of their income from growing the fruit

Avocado on toast might be off the menu. British and Irish restaurants are increasingly ditching them over concerns that Latin American imports are damaging the environment and funding Mexican drug cartels. Growers in Michoacán, west Mexico, have had their land seized by drug lords who are reported to be earning £150m a year by selling the so-called ‘blood avocados’ to British traders.
[The Guardian, 10 December 2018]

coffee name noun [C]
UK /ˈkɒf.i.neɪm/ US /ˈkɑː.fi.neɪm/
a name you give when ordering a coffee or in similar situations because it is easier to pronounce or spell than your real name

Ordering a morning coffee in a busy café can be difficult for anyone, but it becomes especially difficult when you have a name baristas seem unable to understand. Many people opt for a ‘coffee name’, usually a short Anglo-Saxon name like Jack or Jess, or an Anglo-Saxon name that sounds similar to their real non-Anglo-Saxon name. The idea of a coffee name is not unique to Australia, with social media posts of mangled names being shared by coffee lovers in the United States and United Kingdom.
[www.sbs.com.au, 12 January 2016]

chrono-nutrition noun [U]
UK /ˌkrɒn.ə.njuːˈtrɪʃ.ᵊn/ US /ˌkrɒn.ə.nuːˈtrɪʃ.ᵊn/
a way of eating based on the theory that when we eat, as well as what we eat, has an important influence on our health

Chrono-nutrition is an evolving and developing field of science which is beginning to show how our ancient biology is in conflict with our modern lifestyle. The mechanisms behind why time of eating may influence health are not entirely clear.
[Medical Research Council, mrc.ukri.org, 19 June 2018]

About new words