One of the many new coinings that begin in sport and then cross over to other contexts, three-peat is a portmanteau word, a blend of three and repeat.  Quite simply, it means winning a championship, race or other competition three times. If they are consecutive wins, even better.

3 peat2

Lydia Ko gets the three-peat, winning the Sticky Bunker Golf Championship for the third year running!

 The backstory to this term is that it was registered as a trademark in 1989 by the coach of the Lakers basketball team.  There have been several legal challenges to this on the grounds that the word is too generic (too much in everyday use as a noun describing a general state or situation) to qualify as a trademark but so far, its status remains.

3 peat1

Rap singers and the more creative have shifted three-peat over to other achievements like having sex with three different people in the same day/night/weekend/week (You choose when you use it!)



This word, usually used as a noun, has moved from the area of music to general usage in the last few years.  It describes moving smoothly from one part or section to another.


The musical is so well constructed that one song segues into another with the audience barely noticing.

It has been adopted in other circumstances.

The debate segued from a discussion on rape to an analysis of gender politics overall.


The main living room segues into a bigger community space, suitable for as a games room or a large study space for the children.

 The pronunciation is “seg-way”, and there has also been some attempts to spell it in this way, given that the Italian original could be tricky for some.  It can also be used as a noun “ the/ a segue”.

I can’t help feeling that it is the sort of word you use to show off, unless you belong to a culture that might use it frequently and outside musicians I have a hard time thinking who they might be.  Nonetheless, it is now a commonly employed word, especially in the US. Maybe we can say it is bringing some color into the language.


By the way, the word “Segway” is the brand name for a two wheel scooter!



One of those words which has a hint of magic for me.  It seems longer than it is, you can rhyme it with succulent (note the double c), and it has the mystery of its meaning not being easy to guess unless you already know it or have looked it up.

For the record, it means hostile, belligerent, aggressive or savage and it is derived from Latin.  I have always summed it up as ‘keen for a fight’.

His grandfather was a truculent sort, always disagreeing with the rest and ready to argue hard to impose his view.

truculent 2

 Lotte has a very truculent attitude towards her staff.  She doesn’t trust them, criticizes them openly and will treat them harshly if they disobey her.


Sometimes it can mean fierce.  Truculence is the noun form. Not a word to use every day but fun to drop into conversation and see what reactions you get.



In fits and starts

A rather nice expression to describe doing something in an irregular fashion, starting and stopping at various intervals and thereby causing the action to drag out over time.

I asked Jerry to cut the grass but he’s doing it in fits and starts and it’s taking him ages.  The lawn itself looks a mess half mown like that.


The start part is easy to understand but apparently this idiom came into being when the ´fit´ part was added.  This meaning of fit refers to a seizure or spasm, like an epileptic fit.  So, fits adds this spasmodic quality to the various starts a job is being done with.

The government promised to build a new highway but progress is going in fits and starts. Who knows when they will open it?



Uplift, upload

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


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


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


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?


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.





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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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