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To scarper

to scarper meaning

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The gaps between the posts are getting lengthier, I know, but I’m hoping that a few posts are better than no posts, so I’m going to keep writing as and when I can.

Today I got a dreaded call from nursery – they said my daughter was running a fever and I was very welcome to collect her earlier, so naturally I dashed to the nursery instead of going for a coffee with a friend. She was indeed very hot, so the nursery staff took off her trousers and top, leaving on just a vest, to help her cool down a little. When we were about to go I couldn’t find the trousers – it’s good we keep some spares at nursery. We had a quick look, but they were nowhere to be found! Alisa’s key worker said ‘One of the children has scarpered with them!’

I haven’t come across this verb for a while, so I thought it’d make a nice addition to my blog.

To scarper‘ means, quite simply, ‘to run away’. Here’re some examples:

  • It wasn’t noble, but I scarpered double-quick (Oxford Dictionaries)
  • As huge rain-drops begin to spatter the ground, people scarper for cover (The Economist)
  • Tips are paid after the service is provided, allowing opportunistic stinges to scarper, free-riding on the generosity of others (The Economist)

I’ll leave you to it / I’ll let you get on with it

leave you to it phrase

Photo credit: © H. Armstrong Roberts/CORBIS

We have a very friendly lady who lives in the same building and, considering I go out for a walk with Alisa at least twice a day, we bump into her quite often. She always stops to chat to us (unless I look too busy / too stressed / about to burst into tears) and she loves to talk to Alisa in the hope that she’ll give her a smile (which she does most of the time). I’ve noticed that the lady quite often says ‘I’ll leave you to it‘ or “I’ll let you get on with it” when she feels she’s been chatting long enough, and I think these two phrases are very useful. And very British!

If you want to know a bit more about it, here’s a great link!

P.S. The picture reminded me of my brother, who was very independent and rather advanced for his age as a child. According to the family legend, he used to finish telephone conversations with our mum by saying very matter-of-factly, ‘Is that everything? I’m putting down the receiver’.

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To plonk yourself

plonk meaning

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Today I ventured out to a BuggyFit class with Alisa in tow for the third time. I really like that she gets some fresh air, while mummy gets some exercise.

It is a bit of a faff to get Alisa in the car, get the buggy in the car, drive, then repeat in the reverse order, but it’s totally worth it (especially when I get to learn a new phrase on the way).

As I was pushing the buggy from the car to the meeting point there were a couple of kids riding towards us on their scooters, and one suddenly cut across, totally oblivious of everyone else, and got told off by his mum. ‘You just plonked yourself in front of this lady with a baby’, she said.

I knew that you could ‘plonk yourself on the sofa’, but I didn’t know that you could ‘plonk yourself‘ somewhere while riding a scooter!

Here’re some more examples:

  • Bored with sarnies? Pick up a Tiffin box packed with curry, dhal, nan bread, Indian desserts and a Cobra beer or soft drink from Voujon on Newington Road. Then plonk yourself in the Botanic Garden  (The Guardian).
  • Just minutes from fairytale Lake Vyrnwy, this Welsh farmhouse has oak beams and log fires. You can plonk yourself in the hot tub, pour a glass of fizz and gaze out over mid-Welsh hills (The Guardian). – Oh I’d love that.
  • Grab a heap of books, plonk yourself down with your baby on your knee, and begin. Turn the pages, point to the pictures, and ENJOY  (The Guardian).
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I spoke too soon

i spoke too soon phrase

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One thing I realised pretty soon after having a baby was that the moment you think you have it all figured out and under control – be it feeding, napping, sleeping at night or understanding your baby’s cues – things suddenly change! I guess many mothers would agree.

A few weeks ago when we went to a Baby Club run by the local children’s centre. I try to go every week, as it’s one of the few opportunities I get to speak English (and just speak to somebody other than my husband and baby!), unless Alisa decides to have a nap right before we’re supposed to leave.

Last time we went there was a mum whose baby seemed tired and unsettled, so she fed and cuddled her, it seemed to work, so she said ‘You seem pretty chilled now’, and the baby started crying again. ‘I spoke too soon!‘ said the mum. It’s a great expression that I haven’t really come across before and it’s definitely handy for talking about your baby!

A few more examples:

  • He won’t be home for hours yet … Oh, I spoke too soon – here he is now! (Cambridge Dictionaries Online)
  • A few days ago I said my job is pretty stress-free, but I spoke too soonthe stress level at work has gone way up this week (The Free Dicitonary).
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Linguistic Spy nominated by MacMillan Love English Awards 2014

Macmillan Love English Awards 2014 blog

Dear readers,

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone who has been reading / following / sharing this blog. It means the world to me!

Second… I never thought I’d make it, but surprisingly my blog was chosen as one of 35 nominees by MacMillan Love English Awards 2014 and the voting is now open! I am particularly flattered by being together with The Economist’s wonderful Prospero blog – perhaps I’ll vote for them!

You can vote for the Linguistic Spy on this page (just scroll down until you see the list).

Many thanks in advance and have a great year!


P.S. I am now back from my snowy motherland and I am looking forward to updating this blog as often as I can with lots of quirky words and phrases!


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Macmillan Love English Awards 2014

english learning blogs awards

Photo credit: MacMillan

Dear readers,

If you have been enjoying my blog, you can nominate it for Love English Awards 2014, organised by Macmillan Dictionary.


Thanks for your support,

Linguistic Spy


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To run an errand

run errands

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Last week I quit my job and moved house, but now I finally have some time to catch up with my blog. I have done most of the unpacking yesterday and today treated myself to a class in the gym and had some errands to run after that.

I’ve come across this expression quite a lot and I thought it deserved mentioning here, as it’s part and parcel of the everyday life. According to Cambridge Online Dictionary, it means ‘to go out to buy or do something’, in other words it’s all these things in our to-do lists that demand our immediate attention but quite often tend to get postponed.

Here are some examples of how it can be used:

– After school he runs errands for his father (Cambridge Online Dictionary).
– This is a great “must-have” top! I wear mine for workouts as much as I do for running errands! Love it!
– I usually wake up at around 1.30pm when I am working, and have a bit of lunch at home, and then I will try to go the gym for around an hour. I may run other errands afterwards (The Guardian).
– New fathers should talk a lot, run errands – and embrace the washing machine (The Guardian).
PS. And you know what, I briefly met our landlord and pernickety he was.
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Wishful thinking

wishful thinking idiom meaning

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Last week I overheard two ladies at work discussing how they got up thinking that it was Friday only to realize in a couple of seconds that it was still Thursday. They called it ‘wishful thinking‘. I often have such episodes too, especially with this job. What can I say… sometimes waking up to reality can be rather harsh.

Here are some examples of what wishful thinking can be about:

– Many green ideas have been exposed as wishful thinking by the realities of life in Africa (BBC).

– Valentine’s day is thought to be the day that birds pair up for the breeding season but that may be wishful thinking on the part of romantic humans (BBC).

– Do you think you might be in line for promotion, then? ‘No, it’s just wishful thinking.’ (The Free Dictionary)

– Wishful thinking guides today’s federal energy policymakers (The Washington Times).

– The two nominees which get closest to good old-fashioned Hollywood entertainment are “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Argo”, but in both cases there seems to be an element of wishful thinking to the acclaim that’s been heaped upon them (The Economist).

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