Ratchet up

Ratchet is not a word I recall having in my vocabulary a few years ago.  I probably knew that a ratchet was a sort of wheel with teeth or tool that was used to tighten slowly or increase pressure.

rachet

Now ratchet up seems to be very much in vogue.

After the Manchester bombing police are ratcheting up security.

It means to increase bit by bit by small regular amounts. Sounds a bit like torture!

The opposition is ratcheting up the pressure on the President over the loans scandal.

Of course, it reminds us of Nurse Ratched, in the acclaimed film One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, who was the stereotype of a mean wicked psychiatric nurse.

ratched

Have you been ratcheting up your spending on goodies this year?

 

Roster

roster1

A list of duties in an organisation, school, club, flatshare, etc.

Have you got the roster for this month? Who’s responsible for cleaning the kitchen? They look like they haven’t been touched.

Or the schedule for different posts in an organisation like a hospital.  We can see it used as a verb here.

I’m rostered on for nights next week but then I have four days off straight so I guess that’s something.

According to the roster, I am on front desk until 11 when Stuart comes to relieve me.

In American English schedule or rota may replace this word.

What is interesting is that roster comes to English from Dutch and is derived from the word roast.

roast

Apparently someone made a connection between the straight lines of the grid or grill and a list of duties. Or maybe they thought that being rostered on to something was like having a hot iron applied. Go figure!

Iffy

Another lovely English word that foreigners seem reluctant to use. Iffy is a more informal way of saying doubtful or uncertain. But in fewer letters it encapsulates the meaning beautifully.

iffy1

Marketa was thinking of an outdoor wedding but it will have to be before September because the weather is pretty iffy in that month.

iffy2

The plan to open branches in the interior of the country is an iffy one. First, it will involve a huge investment and second, we have no client base there.

Spice

spice1

Yes, it can refer to nutmeg or cinnamon or other such exotic flavours that add an extra something to our cooking. Yes, to spice something up can mean to add more taste and sharpness to whatever we are doing, be it writing a story or creating a fashion image.

But…the big new meaning for spice is that of an alternative drug to marijuana. Apparently it is a mixture of herbs and spices and synthetic compounds called cannabinoids, which have the same psychoactive effect as marijuana. Sometimes called herbal incense, it is apparently quite easy to get hold of in the market and is causing concern for the effects on consumer’s health.

spice2

So, another word acquires a less than innocent meaning. Gives a whole new complexion to the Spice Girls and to the saying “sugar and spice and all things nice …”

Jettison

A rather colourful nautical term that means to throw something overboard from a plane or ship.

jettison fuel

The emergency with the seriously ill patient meant an emergency landing was called for. To do so, the plane circled over the sea jettisoning its excess fuel.

But we use it a lot to discard plans or belongings we know longer need.

Betty and Benny jettisoned the idea of a transatlantic wedding when the costs of plane fares and accommodation became prohibitive.

jettison suite

Mark jettisoned his old lounge suite and chairs and replaced them with a futon and a low coffee table.

I like jettison as it brings a little colour to the language and especially to a word which may have negative connotations.

To Nail it

nail it1

An idiom (and phrasal verb) that is in widespread use in English. It means to get something exactly right or to produce the correct solution/answer/response to a need.

souffle

Lorraine needed to make a perfect souffle to win the cooking contest and even though it was her first attempt at one, she nailed it and was awarded first prize.

Denis needed a 9.4 to win the diving competition and he nailed it with a triple somersault rated 9.6 by the judges.

It has a positive meaning. The implication is that some skill or effort is required so you wouldn’t use it to describe successfully doing daily chores or routine tasks.