Tuesday, July 22, 2008


dipping noun [U] British

an activity in which a group of people locate a private swimming pool and arrange to swim there without permission when the owner is absent an activity in which a group of people locate a private swimming pool and arrange to swim there without permission when the owner is absent.

dipper noun [C]

dip noun [C]

‘Police said illegal pool parties in Bournemouth and Devon, UK, were arranged using online mapping services and social networks … The trend, known as dipping, has become popular during the UK summer.’ NEWS.com.au 20th June 2008
‘Teenagers are locating houses with swimming pools and arranging illegal parties known as dips. … The Devon and Cornwall area of England has been particularly badly impacted by dippers, with the local police force advising swimming pool owners to be on guard.’ iTwire, Australia 23rd June 2008

Ever fancied a pool party but don’t have a pool? In the summer of 2008, all you need to do is go online and locate your nearest opportunity to do a spot of dipping.The recently-identified craze known as dipping involves using Internet-based satellite images, such as those provided by Google Earth, to locate homes with outdoor swimming pools.Once an appropriate ‘venue’ (cool-looking outdoor pool) is found, participants use social networking sites like Facebook and Bebo to spread the news about an impromptu swim or pool party, sometimes referred to as a dip. Participants, known as dippers, often attend the event wearing fancy dress, and are encouraged to ‘bring a bike’ in order to facilitate a hasty escape.Amazing as it may seem, especially given the UK’s notoriously poor summers and the fact that, in comparison to parts of the US or Australia for example, relatively few homes have private pools, dipping is a British invention. Predictably, the craze has proven particularly popular in ‘warmer’ parts of the UK, such as Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Police in these areas report incidents of pool owners returning from work to find their pools full of beer cans, or waking up to the sound of young people using their pools. A recent dipping event near Bournemouth boasted 16 attendees between midnight and 3am, though in fact as many as 500 ‘invitations’ had been sent out via Facebook.If you’re lucky enough to own a swimming pool, then the UK police advise you to be particularly vigilant as the dipping craze gains momentum. If you fancy doing a bit of dipping, then bear in mind that, technically, this counts as trespassing, so you would be committing a criminal offence.BackgroundDipping is new in 2008, a specific sense which develops an established use of the verb/noun dip when it means ‘swim’, as in for instance have a quick dip (have a quick swim) or skinny-dipping (swimming whilst naked).The concepts underlying dipping (i.e. using the Internet to identify a location and advertise an impromptu gathering) are similar to those of the flash mob (2003), where a large group of people hear about an event online, gather at a specific place to do a particular thing, and then quickly disperse

Thursday, June 19, 2008


WAG also Wag noun [C] informal

the wife or girlfriend of a famous professional footballer

‘England’s superstar striker tied the knot at the Wag wedding of the year in a 20-minute civil ceremony in Santa Margherita Ligure on the Italian Riviera.’ The Mirror 13th June 2008

‘WAGs are a big hit in Euro … Continental WAGs (wives and girlfriends) are making up for the absence of English roses.’ Howrah News Service, India 17th June 2008

The Euro 2008 football tournament is in full swing, but for the England team, who didn’t qualify for the championship, the ‘match’ of the year is taking place off the pitch. On 12th June 2008, top England striker Wayne Rooney married childhood sweetheart Coleen McLoughlin in a multi-million pound ceremony described as the WAG wedding of the year.WAG is an acronym of wife and girlfriend. During the last couple of years this rather unfortunate-sounding term has gained currency, seized upon by the tabloids as a deliciously memorable way of referring to the partners of famous footballers. WAG usually has derogatory overtones, used mainly in the context of sarcastic scrutiny of the extravagant lifestyles afforded by amazingly large footballer salaries. Epitomised by celebrity icon Victoria Beckham and caricatured in the UK television drama series Footballers' Wives, WAGs are beautifully made-up women, typically wearing designer sunglasses and carrying Gucci handbags as they smile for the paparazzi. Their stereotypical activities include shopping (preferably at leading designer boutiques), sunbathing, sipping champagne, and partying the night away at post-match celebrations. Though WAG (also often decapitalised to Wag) hit the spotlight with the partners of the England footballers, there is now some evidence to show it being used to refer to the partners of other famous players (with spouses referred to as Euro WAGs), a trend galvanised during recent coverage of Euro 2008. It is also increasingly being used to describe the partners of other kinds of sportsmen (e.g. cricketers - CWAGs), the only criterion being that their menfolk earn a salary of jaw-dropping size.Redressing the gender balance, a less frequently used spin-off term is HAB (also Hab), an acronym of Husband and Boyfriend, which is used to refer to the partners of highly-paid sportswomen, especially tennis players. Another related spin-off likely to bubble up in the UK media during coming weeks is WOW, an acronym of Wives of Wimbledon, which is pronounced /wa/ (like the exclamation "Wow!") and refers to the female partners of top-ranking players taking part in the Wimbledon tennis championships.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


bacn noun [U]

impersonal e-mail messages that you have chosen to receive, especially automatic notifications and newsletters

‘It’s not spam, it’s bacn … New friend notifications on Facebook, weekly events newsletters … the list goes on. As web-based services have come to permeate our lives, so too have automated email updates come to permeate our inboxes.’
Financial Times 23rd August 2007

“Customer service announcement”, “Your latest bill has arrived”, “Your thought for the week beginning …” Any of us who regularly use e-mail will be familiar with message headers like these. This is the e-mail that pops into your inbox and makes you think: ‘Yep, must take a look at that some time, but not right now.’ Often we’ll deliberately spirit these messages away into a folder where they become less visible, secure in the knowledge that they’re there to go back to when we’ve got a few minutes to spare. This is e-mail that’s not unwanted, but not high priority - this is bacn.

Pronounced like bacon, the term bacn has begun to be used as an uncountable noun referring to a ‘middle’ category of e-mail: messages which are wanted, but not needed. This is e-mail that you have consciously opted to receive, so it’s not the same as spam (unwanted e-mail). However, bacn is characteristically less important to you than other kinds of message, and provides information that you can usually put off reading, often for some time, without causing any major problems. Typical examples of bacn are bill-payment receipts, newsletters from your favourite shops and websites, Google® alerts, and friend requests from social networking sites like Facebook®.

With most Internet-based activities requiring some kind of e-mail reference, whether it’s managing bills and accounts, online shopping, social networking or subscription to any website of personal interest, the potential for bacn to clog up our inboxes is huge. Solutions for managing bacn are becoming increasingly necessary, from good old-fashioned discipline through to sophisticated e-mail filtering. A dedicated website has been set up to raise awareness of the problem and discuss potential solutions.

The term bacn was coined in August 2007, at PodCamp Pittsburgh. (The expression PodCamp is now used in the online community to refer to an informal conference which connects people, both amateur and professional, who are interested in blogging, podcasting, social networking or other kinds of emerging media.)

Bacn was chosen because it extends the rather curious meat metaphor which began with the expression spam. A blend of spiced and ham, spam originally referred to a brand of tinned meat which people were forced to eat during World War II when ‘real’ meat was in short supply. Nowadays, however, spam's primary use is in reference to unsolicited e-mail. From spam came ham, which by analogy refers to legitimate e-mail messages (continuing the idea of ‘real’ meat as opposed to ‘fake’).

Bacn is therefore something which comes somewhere between spam and ham. On the same theme, meatloaf sometimes refers to unsolicited e-mail (jokes, anecdotes etc.) forwarded to a large number of people by an individual, rather than a commercial source. (The analogy here is of meatloaf as something ‘homemade’, rather than manufactured by a company.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


googleable also Googleable adjective

producing a number of search results if entered into the Google® Internet search engine.

googleability also Googleability noun [U]
a measure of how easy it is to find information about a person using an Internet search engine, especially Google

‘Are you Googleable? … If the world’s favourite search engine can’t find you, neither can your clients.’
RealBusiness 5th September 2007

‘The difference in Googleability between a person with the name “Mary Smith” and a person with my name [Donna Steinbraker] makes me wonder whether Googleability might one day affect how parents name their children. If Mary Smith had been named, instead, Upanishad Smith, she’d be more Googleable.’
International Herald Tribune 4th December 200

John Smith or Zephaniah Calshari? Jane Green or Jacinda Merryweather? How unusual is your name? A decade or so ago, the relevance of this question didn’t go much beyond considering how difficult it would be to find you in the telephone directory, but in the 21st century, its significance takes on a whole new dimension. How might a repository of information as vast as the World Wide Web affect your anonymity? Are you instantly identifiable, or sharing the virtual world with countless namesakes? In other words – how googleable are you?

The adjective googleable describes words which deliver a number of results when entered as search terms in an Internet search engine such as Google. Of course, search terms are often proper nouns, names of both organisations and individuals, so the adjective googleable, and its related noun googleability, are more often associated with people. A person's or organisation’s googleability, or how googleable they are, is therefore a measure of how easily identifiable they are in the virtual universe, based on the number of results their name returns when entered in an Internet search.

Googleability can be a positive or negative trait depending on your point of view. For those individuals who want to preserve their anonymity but happen to have a particularly unusual name, googleability is a nightmare scenario. For people or organisations who want to be recognised across the globe, googleability is very good news, a quality to be sought after.

Recent research suggests that googleability is something that will influence 21st century children from the day they are born, since a growing number of parents are considering it when choosing their child’s name. Parents concerned with keeping their child’s anonymity are increasingly choosing more common names, whilst those who want their child to be instantly recognizable in a Google search are opting for something very unusual.

The adjective googleable and related noun googleability are recent derivatives of the new verb to google. Google entered the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb in 2006, and it's defined in the new edition of the Macmillan English Dictionary as ‘to search for something on the Internet using the Google® search engine’.

Other common derivatives are the uncountable noun Googling, which refers to the activity of using Google, and the countable noun Googler, describing a person who googles. On the theme of googleability, another term which has recently popped up is ungoogleable, used as both an adjective and a countable noun to describe a person or thing which produces no results when googled.

Google is a registered trademark of Google Inc

Saturday, April 5, 2008


facebook also Facebook verb

1 to communicate with someone by using the Facebook® website
2 to search for information about someone by using the Facebook® website

“Noticing her healthy hair in a picture the other day, I Facebooked her a compliment.”
The Pitt News, Pittsburgh University  1st December 2005

“My curiosity about Lloyd became overwhelming, and within five minutes I had facebooked him and found out where he lived on campus.”
Daily Free Press, Boston University  15th November 2005

There’s a new verb emanating from the online universe. Taking inspiration from Google, now not just the name of a search engine but also a genuine ‘doing word’, the social networking site Facebook has given us the new expression ‘to facebook’ - a full-blown transitive verb with inflections facebooks, facebooked, and facebooking.

To facebook someone is to contact them through the social networking site Facebook. It therefore commonly pops up in examples such as “That guy I met last night facebooked me this morning” and “I facebooked her about meeting for lunch”. As the example at the beginning of the article shows, it can also be used ditransitively (with both a direct and an indirect object), so we get examples like “I facebooked him a message about that.”

As well as meaning to simply contact someone via Facebook, facebook the verb can also be used to describe the activity of finding out information about someone by using Facebook, as illustrated in the following citation:

“Isabel Owen '06, for example, learned that her current employer Facebooked her before hiring her.”
Wisconsin Alumni Association Dispatches  Summer 2006

It is therefore a kind of synonym for google the verb, though unlike google, which has almost become a generic description for web searching, regardless of the particular search engine used, facebook usually refers specifically to the Facebook website as a mechanism for finding out about someone.

In December 2007, it was reported that facebook the verb and Facebook, the trademarked noun referring to the popular social networking site, had been added to the latest edition of the Collins English Dictionary (see ‘Further Reading’ below).

is a social networking website which was launched in February 2004 and founded by Mark Zuckerberg, an American IT entrepreneur and Harvard graduate. Facebook looks something like a giant online scrapbook, where friends can exchange messages and photos and opt to join one or more participating networks, such as those based around schools, places of employment or geographical location. Initially, its membership was restricted to Harvard students, but from September 2006 it opened its doors to anyone, and with more than 60 million members, Facebook now represents one of the world’s most visited websites.

The name Facebook comes from the related noun facebook (also sometimes freshman facebook), which refers in American English to a printed booklet of college members that is given to students at the start of the academic year so that they can identify one another.

Other notable additions to the English lexicon prompted by Facebook are new senses for the words poke and pimp. Poke, used on the site as both a transitive verb and a noun (i.e. send someone a poke) is a mechanism for getting someone’s attention, a kind of virtual nudge. ‘Poking’ can sometimes have sexual overtones, with the consequence that it is cropping up more widely as a new innuendo. The new sense of pimp, on the other hand, has no such connotations. To pimp your Facebook profile is simply to make it look more attractive by adding photos, graphics, music, etc.

Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

open skies

open skies also open-skies adjective

relating to an agreement in which aircraft can fly between two countries without any restrictions

“From this month the European Union's open skies agreement comes into force, which means any European-based airline will be able to fly from any city within the EU to any city within the United States, and vice versa.”
The Independent 1st March 2008

“The newest open-skies agreement with Australia will provide more initial consumer benefits than the recent deal with Europe.”
Smarter Travel 28th February 2008

Heathrow Airport is the busiest international airport in the world. From March 27th 2008, its capacity is further increased, following the Queen's official opening of Terminal 5, a £4.3 billion state-of-the-art facility representing one of the UK’s biggest-ever building projects. The new terminal is a timely opportunity to exploit a recently-established agreement in relation to air traffic, an agreement described by the compound adjective open skies.

An open skies agreement (also regularly hyphenated as open-skies) is an agreement between two nations which basically permits unrestricted air travel between them. The term open skies, though existing for some time, came into mainstream recognition in March 2007, when a transatlantic open skies agreement was established between the European Union and the United States, permitting any American or European airline to operate services to and from any European or American location.

In force from March 30th 2008, the deal therefore eases restrictions on travel between Europe and the US, potentially offering many new routes and cheaper fares for transatlantic travellers. The agreement also permits US airlines to fly between two EU destinations, and allows EU airlines to travel between the United States and non-EU countries like Switzerland.

In response to the EU-US open skies agreement, British Airways has set up a namesake subsidiary OpenSkies, which will for the first time offer direct services between the US and mainland Europe. Flights from New York to Brussels and Paris are expected to start operating in June 2008.

The expression open skies dates back to the late seventies, when the United States began pursuing air service agreements with other countries. By 1982, it had signed twenty-three such agreements with smaller nations, and in 1992 a significant step was taken when, despite objections from the European Union, the Netherlands signed the first open skies agreement with the US.

Such agreements are often described as bilateral (involving two countries) or multilateral (involving three or more countries). An alternative term embracing the same concepts as open skies is the expression open aviation area.

An unfamiliar term which often crops up in the same context is the word cabotage. Although originally referring to the transportation of goods or people between two places within the same country (the word is based on French caboter, meaning ‘to sail along a coast’), cabotage is now often used to refer to a country’s exclusive right to control the air traffic within its borders.

Further reading
The Transatlantic price war
BBC News 21st February 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

rabbit hopper

rabbit hopping also rabbit-hopping noun [U] /rbthp/

a sport in which rabbits jump over a set of obstacles and are judged on their speed and ability

rabbit hopper noun [C]

“In Europe, competitive rabbit-hopping demonstrations have attracted a respectable following …”
The Denver Post 3rd March 2008

Rabbit hoppers stress that just about any rabbit will do when it comes to selecting a bunny for competitive jumping. The sport, they say, is more about the fun of the experience for the rabbits and the owners than winning a trophy.”
National Geographic News 29th March 2002

Easter time – it annually conjures up images of newly-hatched chicks, spring daffodils, and rabbits hopping across the fields … But for some people, a bunny isn’t just a proverbial source of Easter goodies or a sedentary pet munching carrots in a hutch. No, a rabbit is a sporting companion, trained to excel in its innate capacity to jump – yes, believe it or not, there’s a competitive sport known as rabbit hopping.

Rabbit hopping, also called rabbit jumping and rabbit show jumping, is a novelty sport in which domestic rabbits are trained to leap over obstacles. A rabbit hopping course bears a strong resemblance to a show jumping arena, except the competitors are rabbits rather than horses, guided by their owners (known as rabbit hoppers) as they leap over appropriately ‘rabbit-sized’ fences.

Popularized in Europe but also now hopping up (sorry, couldn’t resist) in the United States, rabbit hopping competitions can attract as many as 200 entrants. As well as completing a straight or curved course, entrants also compete for the highest and longest jumps. The current ‘world record holders’ are Danish rabbits Yabo and Tøsen, respectively clocking a massive 3 metres for the long jump and 99.5 cm for the high jump.

Though rabbits are natural-born hoppers, proponents of the sport claim that it requires a great deal of training and practice. Bunnies in training need to get used to wearing a special harness and to walking on a variety of surfaces.

Any kind of rabbit can take part in the sport, though some breeds make better hoppers than others. Long-haired rabbits for example are less likely to perform well because they quickly ‘overheat’.

Before you take your own dear bunny to the nearest rabbit hopping event, remember that overweight bunnies may have limited hopping ability. If your pet rabbit likes to leap on and off the furniture, you have a good agility candidate. If he prefers to sit on your lap and watch the TV … well, maybe hopping is not his forte!