Thank you for the regift!

upcycle

by Colin McIntosh About words: A blog from Cambridge Dictionaries

Millions of tons of waste go to landfill every year, despite efforts to persuade us to recycle more. Of course there is an important green agenda here, but in these recessionary times it makes sense to cut back on waste and unnecessary consumption to save money. These changes in consumers’ habits have brought with them new additions to the Cambridge Dictionary.

One area where people are making changes is in giving presents. Have you ever (more…)

Down with skool!

spelling

by Colin McIntosh About words: A blog from Cambridge Dictionaries

English is famously difficult to spell, although its uniqueness in this respect has been considerably exaggerated. The often-quoted ghoti as a spelling of fish (gh as in tough, o as in women, and ti as in nation) would never be possible, as the values attached to those letters are dependent on their position in the word. It is true that there are some unnecessary complications, though, and there have been attempts over the years to simplify English orthography. Not many (more…)

The sharing economy: Part 2

P2P

by Colin McIntosh About words: A blog from Cambridge Dictionaries

In my previous post we looked at some aspects of the sharing economy, made possible by Web 2.0 technology. This time we’ll look at new words connected with the sharing of data and content between users who are not trying to sell anything – or at least don’t appear to be. This type of sharing is sometimes called P2P, or peer-to-peer, although strictly speaking P2P involves a specific type of relationship between computers on a network, rather than using a central server.

At a simple level (more…)

The sharing economy: Part 1

C2C

by Colin McIntosh About words: A blog from Cambridge Dictionaries

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, could he have foreseen how radically it would change our lives? Web 2.0 – a name for all the internet features, websites, and apps that allow users to create, change, and share internet content – has brought about a revolution in (amongst other things) the way our economy works. Like most advances in technology, it brings a new set of words with it, and some of these have recently made their appearance for the first time in the Cambridge dictionary.

You may have used websites or apps like eBay, Uber, and Airbnb. These are (more…)

The indispensable @

at sign

by Colin McIntosh About words: A blog from Cambridge Dictionaries

One of the least used keys on the keyboard is now one of the most indispensable: @.

It is read as at, but the symbol itself has no proper name in English. The at symbol seems to be the only generally recognized way of referring to it.

Traditionally it was used in financial records to show the price of a particular item on a list, and read as at:

50 units @ £4.75

Now it has found (more…)

Brush up your Shakespeare

shakespeare

by Colin McIntosh About words: A blog from Cambridge Dictionaries

2016 is Shakespeare Year. Four hundred years ago England’s national poet and playwright, major figure of world literature, William Shakespeare, shuffled off this mortal coil, or died (the phrase is used in Hamlet). His life will be celebrated around the world this year, with productions of his plays being performed in theatres from London to Singapore.

Shakespeare of course was an important influence (more…)

Give them the hairdryer treatment

beckham

by Colin McIntosh About words: A blog from Cambridge Dictionaries

Footballers have a lot to answer for when it comes to men’s hairstyles. That’s soccer players, not American football players, who at least have the advantage of wearing a helmet. Gone are the days when all footballers, or at least all British footballers had the same barnet (hair or hairstyle, in informal British English): a poodle-like curly perm, often accompanied by a tash (a moustache). Similarly departed is the comb-over, sported by all football managers to hide their bald patch.

When David Beckham (more…)

Fashionistas, baristas, peaceniks, and beatniks

fashionista

by Colin McIntosh About words: A blog from Cambridge Dictionaries

In a recent post we looked at the suffix –y, which we saw was one of the oldest and most productive affixes in English. Most affixes in English have been around for a long time, including native Old English prefixes like un– and international prefixes like hyper and pre from Greek and Latin, which are shared with many other languages. This week we’ll look at some of the newer prefixes and suffixes in English, most of which are, unusually, borrowed from other modern languages. Most are more restricted in their application, meaning that they can only be used with a limited set of words. That’s not to say that new ones can’t be invented, but their very specific meanings often tie them to particular contexts.

German has contributed (more…)