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Strictly Speaking | Regenuary

Following in the footsteps of Movember, one charity’s highly successful renaming of a month in the name of men’s health, come two alternative names for January to promote different, food-based causes: Regenuary and Veganuary. The second of these has been ...

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Strictly speaking | Proctoring

Just what does a proctor do? Essentially his role has always been to manage the affairs of others, as their agent or proxy. But over the centuries the proctor’s responsibilities have varied with the institution he was appointed to. In ...

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Strictly speaking | Zombie terms

Browsing through the Cambridge Dictionary’s new words blog, as you do, it’s noticeable how many new compounds are being formed with the word zombie as the first element. Some of these refer to that horror movie staple’s habit of returning ...

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Strictly Speaking | Wonk

Informal words for other people we don’t identify with come and go, but wonk is unusual in having recently resurfaced after several previous appearances in Australia with different meanings each time. It’s recorded from the 1930s as a derogatory word ...

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Strictly Speaking | Anthropause

It’s hard to imagine that Covid-19 has had any benefits, but one that is sometimes suggested is the potential healing effect on the natural world of human withdrawal from it. Scientists have given a name to this pandemic-induced slowing of ...

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Strictly Speaking | Dai gou

Dai gou pronounced “die go” means “surrogate shopping” in Chinese. It refers to an informal kind of supply chain by which trusted individuals buy and/or transport quantities of selected goods to resell in China or elsewhere, and avoid commercial taxes ...

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Strictly speaking | Exco

Acronyms are handy expressions for those who know what they stand for, and impossible for those who don’t. Exco encountered in a brief news report gives little away. Could it be a shortened form of excon (-vict/-fidence man)? Try making ...

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Strictly speaking | Hygge

The Danish word hygge, meaning ‘a sense of comfort that engenders  contentment’ has had various waves of popularity in the English-speaking world.  It was first recorded in the US in the 1960s to describe a general feeling of wellbeing. ‘Mindfulness’ might be a ...

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Strictly speaking | Get-up

This informal word has multiple senses – not all overlapping – depending on which dictionary you consult. They do agree on get-up being an unusual costume or outfit which draws attention to the wearer. “Get-up nights” are a suburban extravaganza ...

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Strictly speaking | Furlough

Lexicographers and linguists like to make graphs to show how the usage of words ebbs and flows. It’s a trivial comparison to make, but some of these charts showing recent trends have similarities to the graphics we’ve been seeing of ...

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