Tag Archives: adjective

Fair-weather runners (and friends)

fair-weather runner meaning usage

Photo credit: fb.com/lifeinadayofarunner

I have to admit that every spring as I see more and more people running I decide to take up running myself. Now that I live close to the Downs, which is a relatively large and flat (which is uncommon in the hilly Bristol) green area, there are even more people out running and I am even more tempted. It’s not that I cannot make myself exercise – I do manage to do yoga at home fairly regularly, but with running it’s a different story.

Since I only run sporadically every run is a challenge, and also my back hurts if I run on tarmac, so I have to run on the grass, which – you’ve guessed – is wet about 70% of the time. So I end up running only on glorious sunny days, and they are few and far between. And then the autumn comes and I pretty much shelve all my running plans. That said, I do love the idea of running and determination that comes with it and I admire those who do it on a regular basis.

My only consolation is that yesterday I heard the word which describes me perfectly – ‘a fair-weather runner‘!

Here’re are a few examples:

– Recently, I seem to have been a bit of a fair-weather runner. Do you know that feeling? You look out of the window at the dark skies and the rain, and decide that you could just as well go running tomorrow, when it might be nicer. If, like me, you live in England, you’ll already have spotted the problem here. In the last year, the chances of tomorrow being nicer have been pretty low (mattgetsrunning.com).

– I am a Fair Weather Runner. I am going to let you all in on a little secret. I am not a hardcore runner. I would like to say I am, I really do try to be (runforfun-stephanie.blogspot.com).

P.S. There’s also an expression ‘a fair-weather friend‘, i.e. someone who only wants to be your friend when things are going well for you (MacMillan Dictionary).

Some examples of this phrase:

– Britain is an all-weather, not a fair-weather, friend to Afghanistan (The Guardian)

– But he was no fair weather friend. He was loyal and generous to his family and his friends (The Guardian).

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Snuggly / to snuggle

snuggly meaning

Photo credit: notonthehighstreet.com

My today’s linguistic catch is an incredibly useful word and I don’t think I’ve used it a lot so far – however, it might come in very handy in this sort of winter weather (even if British winters are generally rainy rather than snowy). A shop assistant said she loved my scarf and said it was ‘very snuggly‘ (you might think I was shopping for clothes, but in fact I went to buy a new frying pan).

There’s also a verb ‘to snuggle‘, meaning to put yourself into a warm, comfortable, safe position, for example by sitting with your body against someone else’s body or by sliding your body down under the covers on a bed (a bit of a lengthy definition from MacMillan Dictionary, this one, but you get the idea).

Just one more example sentence:

– What I love about this time of year is snuggling down with a really good book (The Guardian) – this one is about me!

Apart from ‘snuggling down‘, you can ‘snuggle up to somebody’ and ‘snuggle with somebody’.

And another picture – after all, a picture is worth a thousand words:

to snuggle meaning

Photo credit: athomeinlove.com

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Quaint, quoi!

quaint meaning

Photo credit: liamjaydesigns.com

quaint meaning

Photo credit: fuckyeahbristol.tumblr. com

Having returned to Bristol in November after a year in the Midlands I’ve been walking around taking in the familiar sights and exploring new areas of the city and I realised that the word that most often springs to mind is… ‘quaint‘. It means ‘interesting or attractive with a slightly strange and old-fashioned quality’ (MacMillan) and for me it sums up so much in just… six letters!

Here are some examples of its usage:

– Magazines like Grazia and Stylist prefer to talk about Bath because it’s just oh so quaint – Bristol has areas that are prettier than Bath, more varied than Bath and – look, Bath is nice for an occasional visit, but Bristol is just a nicer place to be (ceriselle.org).

– Much press coverage is devoted to Oxbridge’s relatively low intake of students from the lowest socio-economic groups. In reality, a number of the country’s quaintest universities have far fewer working-class students than their urban counterparts (The Guardian).

– I went expecting a landscape of mass tourism but, in the northern part of the Costa Blanca, I found quaint Spanish villages where bar owners spoke only 10 words of English, and I found a part of Europe where life goes on the way it has for decades, with siestas religiously adhered to, and local customs and culture still very much a part of everyday life (The Guardian).

P.S. Apologies for the intrusion of a French word in this English-centred blog, I just couldn’t help myself! If you’re interested in what it means and what purpose it serves, head to this Wordreference forum thread.

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‘Thank you’, ‘Please’ and the magic words

thank you in english

Photo credit: Margaret Littman, Tribune Newspapers

When I was initially thinking about how to structure this blog, I was considering (and many people were encouraging me) to write it in Russian. I thought that would somewhat limit the number of potential readers, so I decided to go with English. However, sometimes I come across phrases that have perfect Russian equivalents (and I have a thing for perfect equivalents – as if something in my mind clicks and the missing piece of a puzzle falls into place), so I can’t resist mentioning them.

Yesterday I spent about an hour reading a book in a café and there was a mother with a 5- or 6-year old daughter at the next table. At some point she was given something sweet, I think, but forgot to say ‘Thank you’. To which her mother replied ‘I think the word ‘thank you’ was lacking‘. I immediately thought of how in Russian we say ‘А где же волшебное слово?’ (‘And what about the magic word’) when we want a child to be polite and say ‘Please’. To me that’s a near-perfect equivalent!

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It’s a good job…

it's a good job idiom meaning

Photo credit: wallpaperscraft.com

Another word from the gym, but not necessarily sport-related… Towards the end of the sound system in the class started playing up and we ended up doing the last five minutes in silence. To which the instructor said ‘It’s a good job it didn’t happen 45 minutes ago’ (it would have been no fun!)

This is a very popular colloquial expression, which means ‘we are lucky because something happened or didn’t happen’.

You could also say, for instance, ‘It’s a good job I took an umbrella’ or ‘It’s a good job I remembered to bring my ID – the shop assistant thought I was under 25 and didn’t want to sell me beer’ (something that still happens to my 30-year-old husband quite often).

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jumpy meaning

Photo credit: emilysmucker.com

Last Friday was indeed eventful and provided rich pickings in terms of words and phrases for this blog. After a somewhat tough week my husband and I went to one of our favourite pubs (giving a few others a miss – one too posh and one with no food and some very dubious music). We spent a great evening there and when it was time to go and I stood up my chair suddenly overturned with a lot of noise – it’s not that I was drunk, it’s just that there was too much hanging on it. One of the guys at the next table was particularly startled – I apologized profusely, to which his girlfriend said ‘It’s ok, he’s always been quite jumpy‘.

Jumpy‘ means ‘nervous and worried, especially because you are frightened or guilty’ (Cambridge Online Dictionary).

This is how it can be used:

– My mother gets very jumpy when she’s alone in the house (Cambridge Online Dictionary).

– Politicians the world over get a bit jumpy when people start looking through their expenses claims (BBC).

– In Whitehall, Toby Bell, newly appointed private secretary to Fergus Quinn, is feeling jumpy. He too has read the three-sentence description of his new boss and can tell he is a baddy (The Guardian).

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binge-watching phrase origin visual thesaurus

Photo credit: blogue.us

When I subscribe to newsletters I always hope that they’ll make me cleverer and smarter. But what actually happens is that I usually get tired of them pretty quickly and sometimes I just delete them without reading. Not so with the newsletter from Visual Thesaurus, which is a brilliant software for linguists.

Today’s post was about ‘binge-watching‘, something I occasionally indulge in, I have to admit. Being not quite impartial to certain series, I find it difficult not to watch several episodes at a time, and that’s what binge-watching is.

This is a valuable addition to my I-didn’t-know-there-was-a-word-for-that-in-English-collection. There’s even a synonym for that in the article – ‘marathon-style watching‘.

The article on binge-watching by Ben Zimmer explores the origin of ‘binge’, and how it brought about binge-drinking, binge-eating and binge-watching.

Update: MacMillan Dictionary recently added a synonym – ‘to chainwatch‘.

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Is it ‘fun’ or is it ‘funny’?

difference between fun and funny

Photo credit: mirror.co.uk

Some time ago I started noticing the difference between the usage of ‘fun‘ and ‘funny‘, or, rather, I realised that more often than not you cannot replace ‘fun’ with ‘funny’.

I remember a student of mine saying about his three children ‘They are good fun‘ rather than ‘They are funny‘.

I also noticed non-natives often mixing these two words, so I thought I’d investigate it.

In a nutshell, the difference in meaning is the following:

  • fun – something that you enjoy doing, or somebody you like spending your time with (if used about a person)
  • funny – something that makes you laugh, something comical or humorous

For instance:

– He is a fun guy (= he is fun to be with, he is a nice person)

– He is a funny guy (= he behaves in a way / does something that makes you laugh)

Funny‘ can also mean strange or unusual, as in:

– There’s something funny going on (MacMillan Dictionary).

– The washing machine is making a funny noise again (Cambridge Online Dictionary).

– It’s funny how Alec always disappears whenever there’s work to be done (Cambridge Online Dictionary).

– She’s a funny girl (= she is strange and difficult to understand) (Cambridge Online Dictionary).


Want to know more?

This and this threads on WordReference, my go-to website for linguistic queries, offer a bit more information on the topic.

Here is a nice visualisation of ‘fun’ vs. ‘funny‘.

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