Tag Archives: noun

It’s a doddle!

it's a doddle phrase meaning

Photo credit: justinjackson.ca

If I had to pick one of the new–ish words that I’ve been hearing a lot lately, it would be ‘doddle‘! Every now and then I hear ‘it’s a doddle‘ about things that are easy to do. Or, there can be things that seem to be a doddle, but in fact are anything but!

What else can be ‘a doddle’?

– The public performance part of my job – the workshops and training – is hence a doddle (Oxford Dictionaries).

– In under 10,000 words the European Commission’s “agenda on migration,” unveiled on May 13th, identifies war, poverty, globalisation, persecution and climate change as forces driving migration from outside the EU. And it touches on challenges like multilateral diplomacy, criminal networks, military intervention and the ageing of European societies. Next to lists like these, fixing Greece or Ukraine looks like a doddle (The Economist).

– Counting clicks on a blinking banner ad is a doddle—but knowing where each click came from, and how many people are clicking, is harder than it appears (The Economist).

 

In fact, there’s another ‘easy’ expression that I quite like (I remember I first came across it in one of Tom Holt’s novels):

easy peasy lemon squeezy

Photo credit: lespetitesgourmettes.com

 

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Dice: singular or plural

dice die singular plural

Photo credit: r o s e n d a h l (Flickr)

These days I rarely make discoveries about the English language – it’s not that I’m super-fluent or fully proficient, it’s probably that I haven’t been reading or speaking it enough. At home we speak Russian, when I teach I have to use as much Russian as my students can stomach, at the moment I’m also studying for a French exam and the rest of the time I spend on my computer, translating, and only rarely do I feel like talking to it.

And I learnt this extremely exciting thing about the singular and plural of ‘dice‘ at a… Spanish class, where we were playing a game with dice!

Amazingly, it turns out that ‘dice‘ used to be the plural of ‘die‘, but these days you use ‘dice‘ for both singular and plural.

P.S. The other day I noticed this amazing coin in my purse – issued on the 250th Anniversary of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, one of the most famous dictionaries in history. I think I’ve mostly been using ‘penny’ and ‘pence’ correctly, but I realized I wasn’t fully aware of ‘pence‘ being the plural of ‘penny‘.

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A do (wait… isn’t ‘do’ a verb?)

christmas do

Photo credit: theguardian.com

Apologies for the prolonged silence on this blog – I cannot even say that I was extremely busy with work, but somehow I just didn’t get round to writing anything.

On Saturday I went to a Christmas party organised by the regional group of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters. In fact, I was also invited to a Christmas party organised by a language school where I teach, but of course they had to be on the same day and at the same time and I had to choose. Despite being completely knackered on that day I had a good time – I had a chance to catch up with colleagues and meet some new people, which is always good.

The word I chose for this post – ‘a do‘ – is a synonym of ‘a party’, and it can refer to almost any occasion:

– Are you going to Ann’s leaving do?

– We had our work [Christmas] do in this restaurant.

– Such social dos are more or less confined to the well to do and the upwardly mobile class of young professionals (Oxford Dictionary).

– We’re having a bit of a do to celebrate Pam’s birthday (MacMillan Dictionary).

In case I don’t get round to writing anything else this year, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the readers!

P.S. Today is the last day to nominate my blog for the Macmillan Love English Award!

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It’s a long shot

it's a long shot phrase meaning

Photo credit: lindisfarnecottages.co.uk

A few weeks ago I started volunteering at a local charity bookshop. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and finally decided to fill in an application. However, I’m finding that this is only going to aggravate my book-hoarding problem.

Anyway… today a lady came into a shop and approached me and my fellow volunteers saying ‘I know it’s a long shot, but do you think you might have a book…’

I’ve heard this expression on numerous occasions and I am quite fond of it. It means ‘an attempt or guess that is not likely to be successful but that is worth trying’ (MacMillan Dictionary).

More examples of usage:

– It’s a long shot, but well worth trying (Oxford Dictionaries).

– Though not impossible, attempting to obtain permission for residential use would be a long shot (Oxford Dictionaries).

– Mr Yu, a 26-year-old policeman, describes himself as conservative and is looking for a woman with “traditional virtues”. His attendance at the expo, the city’s largest yet, is a long shot; he would prefer a marriage set up by colleagues or by his parents. It worked for them 30 years ago, he says (The Economist).

 

There’s a similar-sounding phrase that I wasn’t aware of – ‘(not) by a long shot‘, meaning ‘(Not) by far or at all’:

– We don’t have our act together in Washington by a long shot (Oxford Dictionaries).

– And in agreement with one of the comments made – Egypt is not ready for democracy, not by a long shot (The Economist).

– Dr Thatcher is dead and her one-time advisors do not have a chemistry degree from Oxford. Not by a long shot (The Economist).

 

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What kind of person are you?

a ... kind of person phrase usage

Photo credit: netural.com

On Sunday I went to a staff summer party to catch up with colleagues at a language school where I… don’t teach yet, but I’m there to cover for the regular teacher should anything happen. At some point I overheard somebody saying ‘I’m not really a satchel kind of person‘, while pointing at his bag. This reminded me of the funny phrase that I’ve heard on many occasions – not necessarily with ‘satchel’ though.

A few years ago I was watching The Spooks, a British TV drama series about MI-5. One of the best phrases I learnt from this series was ‘I’m not really a cat person‘. I thought it was a great way of talking about things you like or don’t like.

So, what kind of person can you be?

– There’s nothing new in the notion that time can be a tyrant. But that’s generally held to mean that modern life moves too fast; in reality, if you’re a 200bpm kind of person, constant exhortations to slow down can be just as potentially tyrannical. Sometimes what’s more important is to know your tempo, and those of the people with whom you’re trying to sync (The Guardian).

– For most people, having this prominent book on their table will be a badge of brand loyalty. It says: ‘I’m a Python (as in Month Pythonkind of person‘. Quite right too. The Life of Brian is simply the best British comedy film ever made (The Guardian).

– The Mercury nomination still hasn’t had any major impact on me or my career. I’ve actually been quite surprised by how little it’s changed anything. But I have been worrying about what to wear to the ceremony. Apparently it’s quite posh, but I’m really not a dress kind of person, so I think I’ll stick to jeans and a smart top (The Guardian).

– He later suggested to Ferlisi that she join him but, she says, looking down a little embarrassed, she declined because “I’m more of a casual clothes kind of person, so that wasn’t really me.” (The Guardian).

– Maybe if you were a glass half-full kind of person you’d figure that you were unlucky – you caught them on a bad night (The Guardian).

– I have developed the habit of always looking down to the third or fourth response in a google search. Works for me but I have always been a road less travelled kind of person (The Economist).

P.S. I am definitely a cat person, by the way!

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Geek magnet

geek magnet meaning

Photo credit: hdwallpaperstock.eu

The other day I went to a free self-defence workshop organised by one of the sports clothes shops here in Bristol (maybe I need to mention their name and get paid for this!). It’s not that I’ve been in any situations where I needed to resort to self-defence, but it’s always good to be prepared.

Our instructor was really experienced, both in psychology and martial arts, and she had many stories to share from her personal experience. She called herself “a geek magnet” – someone who seems to attract a disproportionate amount of weird (and sometimes dangerous) people. This is probably not a set expression just yet, but still my inner linguist was clapping her (surely my inner linguist is also female) hands, mostly because my best friend is exactly like that – a proper geek magnet – and now I know that in English there’s perfect phrase to describe her.

However, I was thinking that maybe ‘geek’ doesn’t not always have a negative connotation, and maybe ‘a weirdo magnet‘ would work equally well or even better. Indeed, there’s an entry in Urban Dictionary, with the following example:

– Ashlee is such a weirdo magnet, that guy sniffing paint just sat right next to her (Urban Dictionary)

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Lilac

lilac

This might strike you as an usual subject for a post, and it is, to some extent.

It’s just that I was walking home today and stopped to smell… a shrub (pictured above). It used to grow right outside my childhood home, so that when you opened a window in spring, its smell filled the whole room. So once again I wallowed in nostalgia for a little bit. However, I realised I had no idea what this shrub (called ‘сирень’ in Russian) was called in English. Apparently, it’s simply ‘lilac‘.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has special feelings for this plant – a friend has recently sent me a link to a French song about ‘lilas’. You might enjoy it too!

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Sugar

sugar fix sugar fascist sugar daddy

Photo credit: webmd.com

Yesterday I was sitting in a park proofreading my translation and occasionally glancing at other people. There was a group of teenagers who were skating down a hill on a funny kind of skateboard. I heard one of them saying ‘Sugar!’ (pronounced like shhhhh-uga) and remembered that it was a nice euphemism for ‘shhhhit!’

Today it occurred to me that I came across quite a few expressions with ‘sugar’ lately and thought I’d put them all into one post.

The other day I emailed my French colleague asking her to recommend some cafés and salons de thé in Paris. She emailed back saying ‘I don’t know many traditional salons de thé but in a it’s 4 o’clock, I need a sugar fix kind of thing, I can recommend’…. followed by a list of tea and coffee establishments. It can also be called ‘a sugar hit‘ and ‘an afternoon pick-me-up‘.

The same colleague once used a term ‘sugar fascist‘ about a parent who doesn’t let his/her children eat sweets and I made a mental note of this expression – now is the perfect time to share it with others.

However, those children with more lenient parents who don’t mind giving sweets to their offspring, might get a ‘sugar rush‘ (i.e. become hyperactive and uncontrollable), at least that’s the popular belief.

Here’s a good example in context:

  • People often get cross when you tell them there’s no such thing as a sugar rush. Especially parents. They have witnessed, time and again, their offspring going ape at parties, after mainlining jelly and ice cream. “Sugar high,” sigh the grownups, resigned to the inevitable crash. This observation has been passed down through generations, like DNA (The Guardian).

There’s another sugar phrase – ‘sugar daddy‘ – I don’t remember how I came across it though. And it means ‘an older man who gives a younger woman expensive presents, especially in exchange for a romantic or sexual relationship’.

Here’s an example:

  • “More than a hundred students at the University of Northampton signed up for so-called “sugar daddy dating” to help fund their tuition fees last year, according to an online dating website.” (BBC)

P.S. When I think of the word ‘sugar‘ a song immediately springs to mind – this is a great episode of one of my favourite films and books – ‘Hi-Fi‘ by Nick Hornby.

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