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]
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]
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

a starling perched on a snowy branch

New words – 18 April 2022

a starling perched on a snowy branch
Images from BarbAnna / Moment / Getty

rebirding noun [U]
UK /ˌriːˈbɜːd.ɪŋ/ US /ˌriːˈbɝːd.ɪŋ/
the process of helping to return an environment to its natural state by bringing back birds that used to live there

Swift numbers have declined by 58 per cent since 1995, while house martin populations have similarly suffered … In order to halt the decline, a new call to arms is launching this week urging homeowners across the country to encourage the birds back before it is too late … Forget rewilding, this is hoped to be the beginning of a vital rebirding of the nation’s back gardens.
[telegraph.co.uk, 19 March 2022]

climate doomism noun [U]
UK /ˌklaɪ.mət ˈduːmɪ.zəm/ US /ˌklaɪ.mət ˈduːmɪ.zəm/
the belief that climate change is now irreversible and that there is no point making any effort to stop it getting any worse

[Alaina Wood] is also part of a growing cadre of people, many of them young, who are fighting climate doomism, the notion that it’s too late to turn things around. They believe that focusing solely on terrible climate news can sow dread and paralysis, foster inaction, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the summer of 2021, Ms. Wood … began creating TikTok videos debunking extreme examples of climate doomism — among them that all of humanity will perish within decades.
[nytimes.com, 22 March 2022]

water neutrality noun [U]
UK /ˌwɔː.tə njuːˈtræl.ə.ti/ US /ˌwɑː.t̬ɚ nuːˈtræl.ə.t̬i/
the principle that the total amount of water used in an area after new houses, shops, etc. have been built must not be more than the amount used in the same area previously

The definition of water neutrality is that for every new development, total water use in the region after the development must be equal to or less than the total water use in the region. There are three steps to achieving water neutrality: (1) reducing water use by making the new build as water efficient as possible (2) installing water reuse systems, such as rainwater harvesting or grey water recycling and (3) offsetting any remaining demand in the existing local region.
[www.linkedin.com/pulse, 16 February 2022]

About new words

photograph of snow stained red by algae

New words – 11 April 2022

photograph of snow stained red by algae
Ashley Cooper / The Image Bank / Getty

glacier blood noun [U]
UK /ˈglæs.i.ə.blʌd/ US /ˈɡleɪ.ʃɚ.blʌd/, /ˈɡleɪ.si.ɚ.blʌd/
the phenomenon where algae in the soil under snow grow quickly and make the snow appear pink or red

In late spring, when the snowfall thaws, the mountain’s snow changes from a colorless hue to alarming shades of deep, rusty red. Dubbed “glacier blood,” the phenomenon occurs when algae rapidly overgrow, and researchers suspect it can reveal how climate change affects high elevation environments like the Alps.
[smithsonianmag.com, 14 June 2021]

rain bomb noun [C]
UK /ˈreɪn.bɒm/ US /ˈreɪn.bɑːm/
a sudden, severe gust of wind that blows straight down from the sky during a thunderstorm, bringing with it a very large quantity of rain

It was a wall of water. A record-breaking and relentless deluge that lasted days and flooded towns and cities along Queensland’s south-east coast, submerging thousands of homes and leaving at least nine people dead. As the water spreads to northern New South Wales, how did the so-called “rain bomb” develop? And why has Queensland’s capital flooded again just 11 years after the devastation of 2011?
[theguardian.com, 1 March 2022]

megaberg noun [C]
UK /ˈme.gə.bɜːg/ US /ˈme.gə.bɝːg/
an extremely large iceberg

Scientists have been keeping a close eye on the “megaberg” designated as A68a since it split off from Antarctica back in July 2017 – and new research highlights just how much freshwater it’s released into the ocean during its late melting process.
[sciencealert.com, 22 January 2022]

About new words

New words – 4 April 2022

David Pardoe / Moment / Getty

invasivorism noun [U]
UK /ɪnˈveɪ.sɪv.ə.rɪ.zᵊm/ US /ɪnˈveɪ.sɪv.ɚ.ɪ.zᵊm/
the practice of eating plants and animals that exist in large numbers and usually have a harmful effect on the environment

Invasivorism, eating invasive plants and animals, seeks to fill plates with unwanted species. The movement, which has been picking up popularity in the US for a decade, is attracting British foragers and chefs keen to experiment with knotweed, grey squirrels and other pests.
[thetimes.co.uk, 5 March 2022]

greenhushing noun [U]
Greenhushing is when a company does not mention how sustainable or environmentally friendly its products or services are in case doing so leaves it open to criticism.

Little wonder there is a growing fear of “greenhushing”, where retailers whose products are genuinely eco-friendly avoid drawing attention to this fact in case they are caught out on a legal technicality. Some regulators have responded by producing detailed guidelines to help firms lawfully advertise the environmental advantages of their products.
[legalcheek.com, 19 March 2021]

planet placement noun [U]
/ˌplæn.ɪt ˈpleɪs.mənt/
showing environmentally friendly products or including conversations about environmental issues in films and TV programmes in order to raise the audience’s awareness of climate change

In The Tourist, a BBC drama starring Jamie Dornan, an Australian taxi driver slurps a drink through a metal — and therefore sustainable — straw before it is used to kill him. Albert, a Bafta-led sustainability initiative, describes this phenomenon as “planet placement”, meaning green themes being weaved into the fabric of some of the nation’s favourite programmes in the hope that they help to influence audience behaviour.
[thetimes.co.uk, 5 March 2022]

About new words