Tag Archives: noun

Ticket tout

ticket tout meaning

Photo credit: rsport.ru

Facebook finally proved itself useful – I noticed a friend posting an ad of an upcoming gig of… The Cure. I was over the moon! They’ve been my favourite band for almost ten years, but I’ve never seen them live. They were performing at quite a few festivals back in 2011 and even went to Russia (I was at the UK at that time, obviously), but I never made it to any of these events. And now… a 3-hour performance at the Royal Albert Hall!

Actually, FB proved itself useful once again when I spotted a ‘Beat the touts‘ pre-sale for FB fans. So at 9 a.m. when it opened I was sitting there with my debit card at the ready refreshing the page every two seconds. And a couple of minutes later I had my ticket! Not the actual paper ticket, though, which will arrive in the post later, but still, I’ll get to see the Cure!

When excitement died down a little bit, I remembered that I wanted to look up those ‘touts‘. I sort of guessed that it means a ticket dealer, and that wasn’t far off. A ‘tout‘ is someone who sells tickets at very high prices outside a place such as a theatre or a sports stadium (MacMillan Dictionary).

As the examples below suggest, they are not a very popular crowd:

– Sharon Hodgson, a Labour MP, who has long campaigned for reforms to the ticketing industry, says: “This is not small-time touts. This is big-time industrial touts, power sellers, call them what you will. This is not fair means any more, this is foul means, criminal means.” But if she is correct, how are these touts able to secure tickets so much more effectively than ordinary fans? (The Telegraph)

– After tickets for Monty Python’s comeback gigs sold out before you could say ‘ni’, many went on sale again – at a vastly inflated cost. How do the touts get away with it? (The Independent)

P.S. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the photos of Robert Smith, The Cure’s front man, young, so here’s one:


Robert Smith young The Cure

Photo credit: sandinista.centerblog.net

… and after:

Robert Smith The Cure

Photo credit: itv.com

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Christmas bauble

christmas bauble meaning

Photo credit: toast.co.uk

Having arrived in the snowy UK (three years ago this Saturday) with two large suitcases and just before Christmas we didn’t really care much about Christmas tree and decorations. Registering with the police and trying to find a place to live were more of a priority. We spent Christmas in a dingy rented flat in London somewhere near Willesden Junction. Next Christmas, however, we were more or less settled in here in Bristol and I bought a few Christmas decorations in charity shops, but because there’s not much information on price tags (apart from the price!) I never knew what they were called.

Today, however, I received an email from the brand that I adore (but most of the time their stuff is simply too expensive) and they were offering 15% off some items, including the lovely…. baubles above. I finally know what they are called!

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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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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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A stitch

I was thinking whether I’ve heard any worthy words or expressions to write about today and couldn’t really think of anything. However, as I was relaying the events of my not entirely uneventful day to my partner, I found the perfect candidate.

Earlier today I decided to try the Body Combat class at the gym – with hindsight this might not have been such a good idea though, considering that I badly scraped my car while trying to squeeze into a space in the car park. Oh well. The class proved not as tricky as I thought, but I did get some pain in my side, to which the instructor said somewhat dismissively ‘It’s just a stitch, come on’.

I don’t think stitch requires a definition (it’s a pain you sometimes get when running or doing other exercise) or examples. But here is a brief explanation of why it occurs.

Surprisingly, the class  wasn’t as intense as I hoped and I’m not entirely sure whether I’ll go there again. Somehow I feel more ‘at home’ doing yoga than punching the air (or an imaginary arch-enemy). But hey, the new word was worth it (not so sure about the car).

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In the … department

in the ... department usage

Photo credit: encyclopediaofarkansas.net

I was recently reading the Intelligent Life magazine (more praise of it later) and stumbled upon this paragraph in an article by Rebecca Willis:

Back in the days when I wrote about hotels for a living, the man I was eventually to marry sometimes joined me on my travels. And a curious thing would happen as we crossed the latest hip-hotel lobby: a thought would flash across my mind – ‘what a hideous lamp’, for instance – and a micro-second later he would say: ‘I love that lamp, I wonder where it’s from?’ It could be a sofa, a painting, a fabric, a paint colour: whatever, I soon learnt to wait for the inverse echo of my reaction. It was the first inkling that we might not be totally compatible in the taste department‘ (note the typical British understatement).

I was very excited by this peculiar use of the word ‘department’, only to hear it again a week later. I was chatting to to a colleague about the advantages and disadvantages of being a tall woman, and she wisely remarked that ‘the pickings in the men’s department are rather slim for the ladies who happen to be quite tall‘ (I’ll have to agree on this one). So it turned out that you can use the word department rather freely in contexts like these.

MacMillan Dictionary also suggests that you can use the word department to talk about something you know well or something you’re responsible for, for instance ‘The gardening is Simon’s department.’

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Doggy bag

doggy bag meaning

Photo credit: redbrickpaper.co.uk

I have to admit I’ve cheated on this word, as I’ve heard it from my Russian friends (and was very ashamed to have never heard of it before, even though the meaning is not hard to guess). This happened when we went to a café, overestimated our stomach capacity and asked to take the leftovers with us.

I’ve looked up some more examples of this useful word and here they are:

– Whilst asking a waiter to bag up leftovers from a meal maybe common practice in the strange and exotic USA, Brits still have a curiously divided attitude to the doggy bag (redbrickpaper.co.uk).

– The fury we feel at a dreadful meal dissipates to nothing in the face of ‘Was everything OK for you?’ ‘Yes. Yes, great thanks. Can we just have the bill. Please?’ And it’s the same with doggy bags. We have a mortal fear of causing a scene (lovefood.com).

– The trick is not to over-order in the first place. However, I do ask for a doggy bag when I have too much curry (lovefood.com).

– There’s proper English-language service from the American owners and their staff, and the portions are often large enough to leave you completely stuffed, shamelessly clutching a doggy-bag of food for further feasting back home (The Guardian).

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A bruiser

bruiser meaning

Photo credit: packershalloffame.com

I overheard the word bruiser in a description of a generic Russian businessman with bullying habits. I probably shouldn’t be writing this, considering what it means. And it means ‘a big strong man or boy who looks capable of hurting people’ or, in a more general sense, ‘someone who argues with a lot of force, making other people feel afraid’ (MacMillan Dictionary). Put more simply, it’s somebody who can easily bruise you.

More examples of who it can be used in different contexts:

– What draws people to Mr Mélenchon, though, is less his fabulous promises than his stirring rhetoric and reputation as a no-nonsense anti-establishment bruiser, who has no time for convention (The Economist).

– It is hard to reach old age in Silicon Valley: your technology goes stale, and young bruisers such as Google and Apple kick away your zimmer frame (The Economist).

– The hockey branch of Dynamo, the USSR’s mammoth “sports society,” where Ovechkin played, was never famous for producing bruisers, but Ovechkin’s brutish force makes sense: Russia is a bruiser kind of country now (GQ).

– Belarus bruiser employs British spin for softer image (The Guardian).

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