What about Brexit?

This post discusses both the word and the events.

Brexit is an interesting term, with over 100 million hits in Google it’s also a hot topic, despite what some wish. First recognised by the OED in 2012 it’s older than some imagine if still very young as a word. Also in 2012 from the OED there was Grexit which was perhaps popularised a little earlier (but now has just 4.5 million hits in Google) under fears that Greece would crash out of the Eurozone. Also posited were Frexit (not yet recognised as a word by the OED, 0.8 million hits in Google and described by Wikipedia as “based on Grexit”) and the possibility that Spain and or Italy may also leave the Eurozone. “Spexit”seems was never likely to catch on  (with a mere 50K Google hits). While *Itexit *Nexit (The Netherlands) are discussed their traction is limited; although perhaps growing in the case of Nexit.


Why does Brexit work so well? well Brexit and Grexit are easy to say, clear and understandable as blends of the words they derive from. The consonant cluster at the beginning of the word seems to help. But, Spain also starts with a consonant cluster. But, in this case the following vowel sound is a diphthong not the short /e/ that starts exit, and  the /I/ in Britain and the /I:/ in Greece being monothongs merge better with the overall shape of the word.

Of course we also get asked what it will mean for us.


UK Universities and schools have been feeling the pressure of uncertainty here, and Winchester is not alone in that regard although some figures show we’re less threatened than many institutions. While this has obviously been of particular concern for us in ELTSU, here at Winchester we’re continuing to build on our base as an open and welcoming institution with this message from our Vice Chancellor.

Brexit and US immigration

 As I said following the results of the EU referendum last year, we are a proudly European university with a global outlook. With students and staff from nearly 80 countries, we hugely value the contribution and uniqueness of each individual, wherever they are from.

For many members of staff and students, these are troubling times; questions remain about what Brexit means for EU nationals, and the deeply disturbing developments in the USA pose real threats to people in our community. 

Whilst these questions remain, may I reiterate our commitment to all of our students and staff. We are working closely with colleagues across the sector as policy emerges following the recent Brexit vote in the Commons. We will be establishing an EU Nationals support group that will seek to provide advice and guidance as policy becomes clearer over the coming months. 

Our community will always remain resolutely open and hospitable.Shield


Are you an international student at Winchester who’d like help? Canvas Link




Harvest time

Hampshire Harvest Festival This weekend it’s the Hampshire Harvest Festival hosted around Winchester Cathedral. As well as kid’s activities there will be a variety of stalls showcasing the county’s agricultural produce. With that in mind here are some harvest, (and harvest related) words.

Close Door

Photo J Beddington

Harvest appears first in English as a noun (in 902 OED) and is derived from Old English, with related words in a number of old Germanic languages. Around 1400 it started to be used as a verb as well both uses are still current.

The harvest originally refers to the time of year autumn (or fall for our American readers) but now is most commonly used in compounds like Hampshire Harvest Festival, Harvest Faire, Harvest Moon Etc.


photo credit: christian.grelard Vintage harvest via photopin (license)

It’s also widely used to talk about the outcome of some work even if that work has little to do with agriculture. Ex, ‘The harvest of new contacts from the latest advertising campaign was down on predictions again. I think we need to reconsider the approach.’ This more metaphorical approach also works as a verb Ex. “Analysing the survey data took longer than expected but we were able to harvest some really significant leads, even if the data is not entirely conclusive.”

A threshold, we may commonly understand to be the liminal space in the doorway say between two rooms, a room and a hallway and/or the inside and the outside of a building. The term comes from thresh (what you do to grain crops to separate the edible bits from the straw) and hold meaning to keep. Originally thresholds were put in the doors of barns to stop the grain blowing out.

A harvest moon is a large often orange-ish moon in autumn that would allow agricultural workers to work late to get the harvest in, or at least to return late from the fields before we had streetlights, torches (flashlights for you Americans) and cars.

Reap what you sow: this old saying means that you get what is coming to you. If you are nice and helpful towards others (even when you don’t have to be) then they are likely to be kind to you when you are in need. If you only do what you need to, then they are likely only to help you as much as they have to. Reaping is one of the first stages of harvesting many crops especially grains.


photo credit: Anthony Quintano Banksy Grim Reaper New York City via photopin (license)

The grim reaper: this goes back in folklore to the idea that there is a spirit or “angel of death” that collects the souls of the recently dead and takes them to heaven. Normally depicted as a skeleton in a black hooded robe with a scythe, the grim reaper is a common theme for Halloween costumes.

To scrump: this means to take fruit, (especially apples) from trees that are not yours. Don’t forget scrumpy a type of strong cider perhaps made from these apples.

Music idoms in English

Language and Music are often considered separate but there are a number of idioms that depend on music.

To be tone-deaf (to something): if someone is tone-deaf they have trouble telling the difference between similar musical notes, but metaphorically if someone is tone-deaf to something it means they are insensitive to it. Example “Simon, who only lives a 10 minute walk from work, is tone deaf to complaints about parking troubles.”

To strike a chord: if something strikes a chord with you it means you identify with or like the idea expressed or proposed. Example “Clair’s suggestion that we work from home during the transport strike struck a chord with many employees, but management fear it will be treated as an extra holiday.”

To ring a bell: (well bells are musical instruments) this means you recognise something, a name or a face for example but you can’t quite put it in context. Example: “Her name rang a bell but it wasn’t till I saw her that I realised we’d been at school together 20 years ago.”

To miss a beat: to pause or interrupt something often because of surprise or confusion. Example “Boris Johnson clearly missed a beat when he realised he’d won the referendum.”

To sing from the same song sheet: this means that you agree with someone and probably publicly support their position. Example: “Carla and Tom are always singing from the same song sheet, it’s a pity they don’t get on.”

To be in-tune with something/someone: this means that you naturally agree with them and often think, do, or feel the same way. Example “Sue and Mike are really in tune with each other, I’ve never seen them argue.”

Harmony: Musically this refers to different but complementary notes, but it’s often used to describe a state where everyone is peacefully happy despite any differences they might have.

Discord: this is when notes do not go together well, but it’s also used to describe trouble, arguments, or even violence. Example “Sadly since the referendum there has been a lot of racial discord in Britain.”

To blow your own horn: to boast or be publically proud of yourself. Example “Nobody likes to blow their own horn too much but in a job interview you may need to.”

To march to the beat of a different (their own) drum: to do something independently, differently or eccentric to normal expectations. Example “Anne has always marched to her own drum, it’s little surprise to me that she turned down the manager’s job to travel round the world.”


To bang the drum for/against something: this means you publicly state your enthusiasm for something. Example “Oscar is always banging the drum for people getting involved in politics, even the ones he knows will disagree with him. It might be boring to some, but you have to respect his passion.”

There are of course many more, why not leave them in the comments.

Gambling and Chance in English

Games of chance (otherwise known as gambling) have a long history in many languages, but sticking with English, let’s look at some of the language used both in and out of gambling that comes from games of chance.

Ante: In a card game the ante is the small amount put in by each player at the beginning of the round. This collectively forms the “pot”.

Ante-up: usually used as an imperative verb to ask all players to put into the pot at the beginning of the turn. (Pony up is another variant that can be used a little bit more widely; “There’s a raffle at our street-party and we’ve all been asked to pony up a prize.”)


photo credit: 401(K) 2013 via photopin cc

Penny Ante: most commonly used as an adjective to describe something with low stakes; also used derogatorily about people. “Ron talks a lot about the environment but he’s essentially penny-ante, he’ll never do anything serious about it.”

Show your cards: Normally, at the end of a round all players still ‘in’ (playing) show their cards to discover who wins. Also used metaphorically to describe the moment you reveal your thoughts/plans. As a moment this can be described as ‘the reveal’. “Don’t show your cards before the reveal, you never quite know what the others will be thinking or doing.”

Hold your cards close to your chest: A wise piece of advice for gamblers but metaphorically this includes people who don’t normally (or easily) show what they are thinking. “I think Donna will support us, but she keeps her cards close so it’s hard to be sure.”

Wear your cards on your sleeve: (also wear your heart on your sleeve) if you do this people around you know what you think and feel about things. “It’s been observed in the run up to the referendum this week that Leave voters are more likely to wear their cards on their sleeve than those voting remain.”

Dealing from the top/bottom of the deck: If you’re dealing from the top of the deck you are doing things the accepted (normal way). Metaphorically it’s also used to describe honesty and openness. “We need some advice on this why don’t we ask Susan, she always deals from the top of the deck.”

Having a card up your sleeve: If you literally have a card up your sleeve you are cheating in any normal game of cards. However, metaphorically it can mean having a back-up plan or an extra idea or two in case things don’t go as planned. “New teachers often find having a card up their sleeve is a good idea as some lessons may not go as planned or hoped.”

card up sleeve

photo credit: sh13 flush via photopin (license)

To follow suit: to do something similar, predictable or accepted. In a standard deck of cards there are four suits, Clubs, Aces, Hearts and Diamonds. In many games you have to follow suit if you can.

Not playing with a full deck: If you say someone isn’t playing with a full deck you are calling them stupid, (or at least) not having all the relevant information.

Trump: Some cards can be said to trump others because they are more powerful, or flexible or more valuable within the rules of the current game. Typically the trump cards are the jokers, (also called wild cards) but in many games the trump can move around depending on other factors.

To come up trumps: When something works much better than could have been predicted or expected. “The accidental over-order of umbrellas really came up trumps when it rained every day for a month.”

To trump something/someone: This indicates a victory over or dominance somehow. “Mark felt he was the obvious choice for the new manager; he’d been there a long time and had covered the role when the last manager was ill. However, Claire’s energy, enthusiasm and ambition trumped him.




It’s been observed in the UK that fathers have been in the news a lot lately. Whether it’s furore over the financial affairs of David Cameron’s family especially his father  or the birth father  of Arch-Bishop Justin Welby,  it’s been hard to avoid mention of them in the news.

20150924151034!David_Cameron_official -via wikimedia

Official photo via wikimedia

Putting this aside the word father or a substitute (dad/daddy) shows up quite a lot in English idiom so let’s look at some of those phrases. Some of these are interchangeable but often there is a subtle shift in meaning between father and mother, as for the persistence of this in English look here.

“The father of x” while this can be quite common identifying tag “Steve is the father of Mary from round the corner.” It also acknowledges importance (often founding) in a field. “Jon is the father of post-modern deconstructionism”. This can also be applied within organisations indicating responsibility but not necessarily founding status. “Simon is the father of our Bournemouth operation.” This is occasionally used across gender lines but most would switch to mother if you’re not sure then use something else. To many people, “Madonna is the father of modern pop” just sounds weird.

“To be a father to x” this indicates a paternal (sometimes literally) role towards someone else, possibly a mentee/mentor relationship but often less formal. “Carl is like a father to me, he’s taught me so much about running the business”.

“To grandfather/ (be grandfathered) in” This one comes from employment unions when someone is grandfathered in they are accepted but not as a new applicant/apprentice but as a skilled, valuable and experienced person (often with a higher rate of pay, greater responsibility). This one can be used for members of either sex, although it may sound odd to some. “In recognition of her years of experience Sue was grandfathered into the union.”

“X is the daddy” to say that something “is the daddy” means it’s the biggest and or best of the type. “While it came late to the console market for many people the X-box remains the daddy of them all.”

“Who’s your daddy?” this is usually an assertion of victory, dominance or primacy often used quite aggressively and in fairly childish contexts. “Despite losing all night “Who’s your daddy” he shouted at the pinball machine every few minutes steadily feeding more coins in.”

“Dadspam” these are those jokes, images & videos that most of us get from older relatives who have recently (finally) gotten email.

“Dad-splain” a version of man-splain where a man regardless of relevant knowledge and/or experience attempts to explain something to a woman who may know a lot more about it than them. “Dad-splain” is when fathers (let’s face it guys it usually is) try to explain something to their children despite not knowing much about it, often embarrassingly in front of the children’s friends.

“Father: give me strength/have mercy” these reference prayers part of the Christian influence on the English language. In prayer and hymn God is often addressed as father.

Flagging Flags

Recently New Zeeland has opted to keep the “Union Jack” in its flag; prompting this article from the BBC. Which by the way misses out some significant flags: the Red and White Ensigns flown by merchant and Royal Navy

red_white_ensign_pin_Royal Navy National Museum

Red and White Ensign Pin from The Royal Navy National Museum

respectively both incorporate the Union Jack this omission might be thought ok as they are only used on British Ships but what about Ontario,

ontario via wikimedia

Flag of Ontario via wikimedia

or the other provinces… in fact arguably only 3 of the provinces or territories are free from British imperial influence in their flags. But surely, if they include American States they should include Canadian Provinces?

Singapore Flag_of_the_British_Straits_Settlements_(1874-1925).svg viawikimieda

Flag of Singapore via Wikimedia

What about Singapore but as this shows Great Brittan has a habit of leaving their flag around the place. But this is getting beside the point. With that in mind let’s look at some of the uses of the word Flag in English.

“to flag something”: this is often used in meetings and other discussions to either draw attention to something important or to note that something requires attention at a later date. This might also be “to flag something up”. Microsoft Outlook uses ‘flags’ to tag items in the inbox that you want to follow up. Example: “Before we finish I’d like to flag the date of the next meeting with you”

“to raise a red flag”: is a metaphor meaning something gives you a warning, or justifiably makes you wary or nervous. Example: “I’m not sure I trust him, something about this just raises a red flag for me.” Interestingly the Red flag is also a socialist anthem “keep the red flag flying”.

“to raise the white flag”: is traditionally a sign of surrender or wish to parlay in war/conflict but can also be a metaphor for giving up. Example: “I’d rather we go away as a family for the holiday but I raised the white flag when Toby threatened to stay home by himself.”

“black flag” traditionally the mark of pirates at sea but also a noted punk band.

Black Flag Band

Black Flag band from their website

“to fly a flag at half-mast”: is a sign of mourning for the death of a significant and public person, this metaphor has gotten stretched and can include use indicating someone seems sad or distracted. Example: “What’s wrong with Claire? She’s been walking around at half-mast all morning.”

“to run something up the flagpole and see who salutes”: a metaphor for mentioning an idea or plan publicly to see who and or how many people respond well (or negatively) to it. Example: “I wasn’t convinced about the new models but we ran it up the flagpole for some key customers and the response was very good.”

“A chequered flag”: of black and white squares is traditionally used in racing for the finish of the race. As a metaphor someone waving the chequered flag indicates the end of something. Example: “I didn’t miss the whole thing I got there in time to see the chequered flag”.

“to wave the flag for something” and/or “to be a flag bearer for something”. These metaphors indicate strong (and genuine) public support for something. Example: “Simon will always wave the flag for change, even if he doesn’t understand the underlying issues”.

“a flag of convenience” literally this is when a ship is registered somewhere or flying a flag of somewhere that it has no real connexion to. Metaphorically someone may fly a flag of convenience to display loyalty they don’t actually have. Example: “Kevin’s only flying a flag of convenience here; he doesn’t really believe in our cause and will desert us at the first opportunity.”

“a flag of courtesy” when in another nations waters ships fly flags of courtesy to show they are aware of their position and willing to abide by that nations laws and regulations.







Frost – in one sense it’s weather. As what happens to dew when the temperature is cold enough to freeze it. But, there are a number of interesting linguistic and cultural features using “frost” or a derivative in English.

Jack Frost – an anthropomorphic nature spirit; a representation of winter with a number of spin offs from beer to cartoon characters , and films to games. You might say – “watch out for Jack Frost tonight” – if you think it will be cold.

Jack Frost wikimedia

image via wikimedia

Frosted – adjective used in baking. When there is a thin layer of something (often sweet) on the top or even outside of a baked item. The layer is thinner than icing but more than just a glaze. The cupcakes were frosted with crystallised sugar.

Frosting – noun used in baking. See frosted.

Frost Nixon – a 2008 film directed by Ron Howard. This is a fictionalisation from writer Peter Morgan of the interviews between David Frost (a British journalist and presenter)and Richard Nixon (a former US president with a mixed reputation following the Watergate Scandal).

Touch of frost: expression meaning that there is some frost but not a hard frost.

Hard frost: a very severe frost, many gardeners dread predictions of a hard frost once the spring growth has started. It can be very damaging for many plants.

A frosty reception/welcome: a greeting but without the normal and/or expected warmth. We got a frosty reception at the hotel; despite booking on their website it appears they were closed for renovations so we had to stay somewhere else.

Touch of Frost  – TV programme. Starring David Jason as the eponymous Detective Inspector Jack Frost a determined if not always organised police detective.

A frosty smile/look: When someone looks unfriendly or even hostile despite outwardly seeming normal. I’m not sure we should leave Dave and Simon alone. Dave gave Simon a really frosty look when he arrived I think he’s still upset over losing the poetry prize to him.

Frosty the Snowman – A kid’s song often sung in winter or even as a non-religious Christmas song.

Frostbite – the name for the medical condition where part of your body (starting with the skin freezes. Fortunately, this is very rare in the UK but can be a serious danger in countries that get more severe winters.

Frost Maiden/Queen: a woman who is or seems frightening and/or intimidating and/or unapproachable because of manner, but also one who is logical and unemotional at all times. I’m aware that she seems like a bit of a frost maiden at first; but trust me she’s really very nice just a bit shy around people she doesn’t know. You might be surprised to find that this is a case of sexism in English but there is no male equivalent.

The Language of Plants

We’ve already done language of spring and we did a big post on spring and flowers  last spring. But, so far the huge range of idiom and expression related to plants and horticulture has yet to bloom or bear fruit here.

“Bloom/Blossom”: We better deal with this one first… since it’s one of two in the sentence above. When a plant’s flower opens it can be said to bloom, (or blossom). Figuratively, someone could bloom in a role or just generally meaning that they were doing really well. “After a couple of false starts Simon opened his own coffee shop and really bloomed.”

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

“Bear Fruit”: If/when something bears fruit it pays off for the people who planted, nurtured, or cared for the plant. This is fairly easy to work out the figurative meaning. “This plan may take a little while to bear fruit, but it is easy to set up and maintain.”

“Grapevine”: We use this expression when we talk about rumours or gossip. But, also when we want to hide our source of information (remember we never do this in academic work). “I heard on the grapevine that Diane is planning to leave the company. Do you think it’s true?”

“Harvest”: Both a noun and a verb the harvest is the reward at the end of a period of hard work. It can be used very pragmatically, “The harvest of this project will take a while to process.” or more emotively “While it’s not always possible attending graduation allows students to celebrate their achievement and have their harvest recognised by their peers and families.”

“Sow the seeds of…”: this phrase recognises that some things take time to develop and need a basis in which to develop. “This new approach to product design should sow the seeds of success for the next 20 years.”

“Kernel”: The kernel is the centre of a seed, but the word is also used to talk about the centre and most essential part of many different things from people to computer code. “Jane while usually avoiding the limelight was at the kernel of the company for many years.”


“Reap what you sow”: This one is similar to harvest but in contrast it is used much more often in negative senses. Reaping is the act of collecting or harvesting a crop, sowing is when the seeds are thrown onto the earth. “I can’t believe it nobody sent me a birthday card this year” “Well you reap what you sow”

“Root & Branch”: This is almost political jargon and it means the whole organisation. “The government promised root and branch reforms to get the economy moving again, but the changes seemed minor, complicated and poorly implemented”

“Set down roots”: If you set down roots you start to feel like a long term local in a new place, it can also be used to mean (well) established in a particular environment or location. “While the City council tried to attract new businesses to the high street few really set down roots.”

“Turn over a new leaf”: This is another one about change. If you turn over a new leaf you choose to change for the better. “This year I’m going to be a better student. I’m tuning over a new leaf and I’m not going to put off my homework anymore.”

“Grasp the nettle”: While stinging nettles are normally to be avoided this is encouragement or advice means to be brave and do something that’s scary/unpleasant, counter-intuitively perhaps but if you grab nettles roughly they are less likely to sting you as badly than if you just brush them lightly. “Grasp the nettle; ask him out for a date.”

“Sour grapes”: If someone has sour grapes they are unhappy about something, and everyone knows it because they are telling people. “Don’t mind Henry, he’s got sour grapes over you getting the promotion to team leader but he knows you deserved it more.”

“Separate the wheat from the chaff”: Once the wheat has been harvested the grain needs to be separated from the chaff, the part of the plant that comes with the grain when harvested. If a process separates the wheat from the chaff it divides the good and/or useful bits/people from those that are not as desirable. “The next test is difficult; it will really separate the wheat from the chaff so make sure you are ready for it.”


“The grass is (always) greener (on the other side of the fence/street)”: This one means that often things can seem better than they are from a little distance, but that this might be deceptive. “Remember the grass is always greener…. His car is pretty, but between the insurance and running costs you could buy a new car every year”

“The darling buds (of May)” like so much of our language we owe this phrase to Shakespeare specifically sonnet 18. “Rough winds may shake the darling buds of May” So he seems to be saying that while people cherish spring flowers that this alone is not perfect and might not make everyone happy.

Love in the English Langauge (The Valentine’s Post)

In honour of Valentine’s Day let’s look at the language of love.

It’s been noted that many languages have more words for love than English. That like so many generalisations is perhaps both true and not true.

While there are lots of words that we tend to just translate as love. Love can be a verb, adjective and a noun (both abstract and concrete) in English so it’s a hard working word. What’s more love has been part of English as long as there has been English, (perhaps this fact accounts for some of its many applications).


Adore: (verb) means to love both romantically and not, perhaps in an idealised sense and quite a strong emotion.

I adore chocolate; I could eat it morning noon and night.

Boyfriend: (noun) a male romantic partner, possibly a lover possibly not. Not to be confused with male friends in general.

Her new boyfriend is very handsome, but always late.

Crave: (verb) means to (almost physically) need something an addict craves the object of their addition this is very strong and almost pathological.

After a weekend away for work I was craving my bed and my family.

Divine: (adjective) if you think someone is divine it means you are really into them, you think they are just about perfect, and it’s not logical.

Despite her being mean, smelly and rude; Kevin thinks Tanya is divine.

Exclusive: (adjective) if a relationship is exclusive, neither partner sees (romantically) anyone else; the opposite of an ‘open relationship’.

Tom wants to be exclusive but always falls for people who want open relationships.

Fond: To be fond of (verb expression) you can be fond of friends, family, and even pets or places. It means you have a benign well-wishing feeling towards them. It’s not as strong as some of the others, and can be used with but.

Personally, I’m fond of dogs but I can understand why people don’t like them.

Flirt: (noun/verb) if you flirt with someone you talk and act towards them in a way that might create interest. However, it might not be serious; it can be just for fun.

Was Tom flirting with Sue just now?

Girlfriend: (noun) a female romantic partner, possibly a lover possibly not. Not to be confused with female friends in general.

His new girlfriend is very elegant, but usually rude to his friends.

Hang out with: (verb expression) if you hang out with someone a lot people might think you are ‘together’.

Clive has been hanging out with Claire a lot lately, I wonder if anything is happening there?

Hit on someone: (verb expression) if you hit on someone you make a pass at them you say and do things to try and get them romantically interested in you.

Cynthia was definitely hitting on Tony last week but I don’t think he noticed.

Hallmark Holiday: (noun) a hallmark holiday is one that only exists for sales and marketing purposes. It’s only celebrated to get people to spend money on things they otherwise wouldn’t.

Valentine’s Day, Teacher’s Day and Halloween have all been accused of being hallmark holidays.

Into: to be into (verb expression) if you are into someone or something you like it, possibly a lot.

Simone is really into Frank but he’s more into football than anything else.

Just a fling: (noun expression) this is a way of dismissing the significance of a relationship.

They did hang out a bit last summer but I’m sure it was just a fling, they don’t really have much in common.


Keen on: (verb) if you are keen on someone or something you like them/it.

Sue is keen on Brian, but I’m not sure it will go anywhere.


Lover: (noun) a person who you are engaged in a physically romantic relationship with is your lover, it may or may not be a life partner.

His lover told him that the new book wasn’t worth buying.


Mope: (verb) if you mope you stay still or move slowly in a way that is sad and expresses that sadness.

Carlos has been moping about after Elaine for months, but I don’t think she likes him that way at all.


Need: (Noun/Verb) this one is very strong; if you need somebody/something you can’t do without. As a noun people might talk about needs as criteria for a partner.

Her needs are simple, he has to be handsome, rich and like talking about her.


Open Relationship: (Noun) if you are in an open relationship everyone sees other people romantically as well, and everyone is open and knows about it.

Some people find themselves falling into open relationships because they’re unsure how to talk about their relationships with partners.


Passion: (noun) if you have a passion for something you love it. It can also be used to discuss the intensity of a relationship.

Ginny and Paul shared a passion for rare books and bird watching.


Queer: (adjective) this is one of the words that some people who are interested in other people of the same gender as them use to identify themselves. It’s also lent its name to a field of critical analysis: Queer Theory.

Martha told Mike she was queer, but maybe he was hitting on her.


Romantic: (adjective) if you do something romantic you act in a way that inspires or suggests romance.

Do you really find Valentine’s Day romantic? It’s such a Hallmark Holiday.


Serious: (adjective) if a relationship is serious it is long term and stable; they might get married, buy a house and/or have children.

He’d been in love before, but this time it was serious.


Together: (preposition/adjective) if people are together then they are in a relationship.

Are Sam and Tina together? They’ve been talking in a corner all evening?


Unrequited: (adjective) an unrequited love is one that is not reciprocated or returned.

Many young men apparently harbour an unrequited love for Emma Watson one of the stars of Harry Potter, fortunately most of them realise this.


Visit (Love Visit): (noun) I can’t be 100% certain as this is an old idiom but this seems to be somewhere between a date that you go on with someone or possibly what one might refer to in the vernacular as a booty-call.

With love from: (semi-set expression) often written at the end of email/letters or in cards and on the labels of gifts.

With love from ELTSU

X – it’s easy to cheat with x and z we’ve doubled up above instead. See H & F


Yfall: (Old English – Verb phrase) a long time before Shakespeare, before even Chaucer, in Old English we would have yfalled into love (now we fall in love).  Let’s hope that this isn’t considered cheating as discussed in X & Z


Z – it’s easy to cheat with x and (slightly less so with) z we’ve doubled up above instead. See H & F

Literally, and other adverbs often over used.

It was on the news this morning according to the oed you can use ‘literally’ as an adverb to intensify your statement.

He literally has his head in the clouds.

Need not refer to pilots or meteorologists.

They invited literally the whole village.

They may have left out one or two.

Literally millions of pounds are missing.

It’s a lot of money but the reporter may not actually know.

That said, in academic texts you should remember the rather literal meaning behind such words. If you use literally too liberally you may find that your meaning becomes ambiguous. So use with care, or not at all as recomended by the Guardian.


At the core of this one is basic meaning simple or low level. However, it is often used more as a discourse marker to indicate a point of view or oppinion on the matter being discussed.

Basically, the issues are highly complex and should be left to the teams of experts that understand them.

Very little here sounds basic, perhaps importantly would be a better fit.

The last government basically spent money hand over fist as fast as they could get it. Again this situation seems perhaps more complex than basic, essentially might be closer to the meaning.

The test basically covered everything on the course; it was really exhaustive and challenging.

Again this doesn’t sound like basic, ‘more or less’ could be a good fit here.


Is an adverb in form but is often used more as an injection meaning yes, but is often used as an intensifier without addressing how intense an absolute is.

This is absolutely one of the six or seven worst films we’ve seen this year.

That doesn’t sound very absolute.

This child is absolutely the cutest baby ever.

This if read literally is quite clearly unsupportable and not provable, as an academic assertion you’d be on shaky ground.

“Do you want to go to the cinema or rock climbing?”

“Absolutely the cinema… what’s on?”

Again here the absolutely doesn’t seem to be that absolute, can anyone love the silver screen that much? Or maybe they just hate rock climbing.