Uplift, upload

These words derived from phrasal verbs are also mutating into new forms and meanings.

uplift

Will Karen Brown please return to the information desk to uplift the small bag she has left behind?

This announcement over the airport loudspeaker may have an element of bureaucratic talk but it is clear what is meant. Why pick up or fetch or collect could not be used I don’t know.

Likewise, I heard the following a little while later:

Passengers for Emirates Flight 123 should head to the gate as the upload has begun

upload

So, we no longer board an aircraft but we upload it? Interesting changes that may not be really necessary.

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Pander

No, I haven’t spelt the cute black and white Chinese bear wrongly.  We have another word pronounced the same way.  This is the verb “to pander”.  It basically means acting to please someone and do what they want, even if you don’t necessarily agree.  Some even say it extends to indulging someone’s whims.

The Prime Minister is always pandering to big business and agreeing to their demands.  What about the rest of society?

pander

Jenny knows that her mother refuses to pander to her whims so she tries her father first and he almost always panders to his darling daughter.  His latest gift to her was a new cellphone as she said her old one was already out-of-date.

You can pander to someone’s ego by saying what they want to hear.  As you will have noticed you pander to someone or something.

panda

 

Flick

flick1

Flick is an action performed with the thumb and forefinger in order to get rid of dust, dirt or an insect. The momentum of the “flick” can be rather fierce and propel the unwanted object away at great speed.

I remember flicking spitballs when I was at school and I guess earlier generations flicked marbles and the like.

Now it seems we can flick emails!

We’ll flick you an email when the technician has finished and your machine is ready to pick up.

I heard this use several times in my week in New Zealand so it is obviously gaining in use.

Lacklustre

No big mystery here. It means that there is no shine or brilliance or that something is uninspiring. Often used in reference to performances and productions.

Yesterday’s match saw a lacklustre effort from the league leaders who spent most of the game on the defence and only had one chance at the opposition goal.

lacklustre

During the election debate the Vice President was distinctly lacklustre, giving brief and unconvincing replies and failing to inspire his supporters.

It can also be used to describe hair and I guess, by extension, aspects of grooming.

lacklus hair

It is not a word I use or have heard used much in spoken English and tends to appear more in reviews or reports but what I like about it is that it sums up a particular state perfectly.

 

Gifted

As an adjective this word is quite commonly used to describe someone with a special talent or ability.

gifted player

Nancy is a gifted tennis player.

“We are young, gifted and black” sang Nina Simone in the sixties.

So far so good.  But what about its use as a verb?

I was gifted this watch as a recognition of my years of service to the local bowling club.

He gifted his wife a monthly pass to the local spa.

gift

Researching on internet, the main dictionaries seem to acknowledge the existence of this use of the word but are reluctant to fully validate it yet.  Nevertheless, it appears to be used more and more frequently as a synonym for ‘to give’. There are many who criticise this usage but as one site said, there is a point to using ‘gifted’ if you want to emphasize the intention of giving the item as a present, rather than simply giving.

This looks like splitting hairs to me and while it is true that give is a perfectly good word, I suspect that using ‘to gift’ conveys a slightly grander intention and this is influential in its increased use.

Snowflake Children, Flaky

snowflake kid

I have seen this term used in a couple of different ways recently.

One is to describe children born via embryo adoption. This is when by using in vitro fertilisation, an infertile couple can have a baby, neither of them being one of the donors. The snowflake part seems to come in because the embryos are frozen along the way.

The other is to refer to young people who are becoming adults in this decade. In some circles they are being described as the Generation Snowflake, with an inflated sense of their importance, overly quick to take offence or get upset (the mall is closed one day and it is a major disaster or the fast broadband service goes down and they burst into tears).

Apart from this low threshhold of emotional vulnerability they also display less resilience.

It is not a particularly favourable term and reminds me of the word ‘flaky’, a slang word for crazy, unreliable or wacky.

flaky

Jim’s new girlfriend is definitely flaky, you don’t know what she is going to come out with next.

Fraught

fraught.png

Another word that you don’t tend to find being taught or used that often by speakers of English as a second language According to Google’s trawling of the corpus world, it is not however going out of fashion.

There are two main uses of fraught basically:

Sailing in the Indian ocean is fraught with danger given the number of pirates in the area.

Doing up an old house can be fraught with difficulties and hidden structural ‘surprises’.

 So, the first meaning is ‘full of’ and we are referring to negative or unpleasant things.

The other meaning, probably less commonly used, is that of worried, anxious or tense.

fraught party

(Jen Yuson Photography)

The mood at the reception suddenly became fraught when her drunk ex-husband turned up.

 Relations between the two departments are somewhat fraught at the moment since the discovery of the theft.

 What I did not know before is that the word derives from Middle Dutch and means laden with something, like a cargo. So, it is a relative of the word freight! Interesting how some offshoots stand the test of the time!

 

Tranche

tranche1

From the French, meaning a slice or a portion, this word has started appearing with greater frequency in financial and legal circles.

The loan should be repaid in four tranches, one every three months.

tranche 2

The former president has a tranche of law suits to answer to in his name.

The residents will receive their compensation in three tranches, the first at the beginning of the work and the others to be paid as the project is completed.

So while the word is clearly used in the jargon of bankers and economists, it is also starting to gain ground in the media and in everyday English.

Umpteen

umpteen2

Another of those words, which sounds fun in English is umpteen.  Basically it is a substitute word for countless or a very high number which we do not wish to or cannot specify.

I have umpteen orders waiting on my desk to action on Monday

It also has an ordinal number form.

This is the umpteenth time I’ve told you to clean your room

For a commonly used concept, the term is relatively new and supposedly emerged from use by the British Army in World War 1.

There are umpteen dozen ways of making a mistake in this job so make sure you pay special attention.

umpteen1

 Larry has called Judy umpteen times this weekend. He sure is persistent!

Bare bones

bare bones

Another graphic expression.  The bare bones of something are the bare essentials, without any flesh or padding.  The meaning is very clear!

The bare bones of the story are as follows: boy meets girl, they fall in love, have a baby, boy cheats on girl, they have a bitter separation.

Just give me the bare bones of your problem, I don’t need to know all the ins and outs you have had with the Ministry.