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Strictly speaking | Phubbing

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Creating new words is an unpredictable business. How was Lewis Carroll to know that amongst the brillig, gimble and uffish of “Jabberwocky”, chortle would gain popular acceptance? Did we really need a new term for laughing? Advertising agency McCann thought ...

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Strictly Speaking | LUXED and LUSH

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An international hotel advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald invites readers to get luxed on a stopover in Singapore. Those old enough to remember the ubiquitous bar of Lux soap might wonder if this is just an upgrade on the ...

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Strictly Speaking | Atas

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English has always extended itself with words from other languages. Recent additions to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) have a certain East Asian flavour to them. Literally, in some cases, with the inclusion of plenty of culinary words such as ...

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Strictly speaking | Ruburb

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The concept of suburbia may seem a contemporary one. In fact, the word suburb, literally meaning ‘below the city’, goes back to the 14th century, and is mentioned in one of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as a hiding place for robbers ...

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Strictly speaking | BOOMLET

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In the wake of the Brexit referendum and economic pessimism in Britain, an optimistic commentator in the EU-based Politico was forecasting a boomlet for financial consultants and lobbyists in London and Brussels. A boomlet? Is that a ‘real’ word or ...

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Strictly speaking | Yummy

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New terms are constantly being created to label demographic groups, often by marketers wanting to target them. These terms are commonly formed using acronyms – as in the examples dinky (dual income no kids yet), kippers (kids in parents pockets ...

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Strictly Speaking | Zenware

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The distractions that tempt us whenever we turn on a device with an internet connection are boundless. We’re immediately bombarded with an array of apps, email and Facebook notifications, advertising pop-ups and clickbait. This sensory overload is the motivation behind ...

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Strictly speaking | bokeh

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This unusual word was borrowed from Japanese less than 20 years ago for a special out-of-focus effect that up-to-date photographers may strive to achieve rather than avoid. In Japanese, the word is written as boke, but said with two-syllables (bow-kay) ...

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Strictly speaking | Patch

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Patches have been put to many purposes over the centuries of the word’s use, so that they may “repair, strengthen, protect, or decorate” a surface (Oxford English Dictionary online). In the 17th and 18th centuries, they could be a form ...

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Whether you’re cis or trans is all a matter of perspective

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Prefixes in English often come in complementary pairs, such as ante-/post- (antemeridian/postmeridian), in-/out- (inside/outside), et cetera. A less well-known pairing is trans- (‘across’, ‘beyond’) and cis- (‘on this side of’), as in transmontane/cismontane – referring to something situated either beyond ...

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