Tuesday, December 11, 2007


exergaming noun [U] /eksgem/

the activity of playing video games that provide physical exercise

exergame noun [C]

exergamer noun [C]

“A push for new frontiers in the fitness market, an aging gamer population, and increasing rates of obesity among the young are all fueling the trend toward exergaming.
PR Web 18th August 2007

“…And the strategy that many developers are pursuing involves the new genre of exergames… hybrids between instructional workout DVDs and immersive game environments.”
Business Week 22nd November 2005

“…prolonged dancing on the dance pad results in blisters and pain in the knee joints due to the repeated stamping movements… To avoid such injuries, Dr Tan advised that exergamers should also include other conventional forms of exercise into their fitness regime, such as running or swimming.”
The Straits Times 13th March 2007

Need to lose some weight? Look no further than the nearest games console. Yes, seriously. There was a time when the world of playstations and video games was strongly associated with the lifestyle of a couch potato, a person condemned to an unhealthy diet of inactivity through mesmerizing screens. But not any more, thanks to the new trend of exergaming

The principle is simple: combine the idea of physical exercise with the compulsive stimulation of video games, and hey, presto, you can keep fit whilst having fun - or that’s the theory. And it’s proving very compelling in a society which needs to tackle obesity and other health problems associated with 21st-century lifestyle.

The games software underlying the concept, referred to as the exergame, has emerged as big business across the leading manufacturers. In 2005, Sony launched a product called Eyetoy: Kinetic, a workout game designed for its PlayStation 2 console, which incorporates exercise regimes intended to tone the body and promote cardiac health. Utilising the console’s internal clock, Eyetoy: Kinetic is a fitness programme lasting a number of weeks, and even incorporates a fitness instructor who gets angry if a player misses a date!

At the more light-hearted end of the spectrum, there is the Nintendo Wii console and Wii Sports, launched in 2006. The popularity of the Wii hinges on its novel use of the game controller, cleverly referred to as the Wiimote (a play on remote, as in remote control). Rather than just acting as a static game controller, the Wiimote can be held in a range of orientations, and functions as a tennis racket, golf club, bowling ball, baseball bat and boxing glove, among others. A forthcoming exergame product, entitled Wii Fit, will also incorporate a balance board, recording players’ weights and enabling them to practice yoga, do press-ups and even a virtual ski-jump!

Interestingly enough, the popularity of exergaming is not confined to younger generations. An up-and-coming breed of exergamers are the over-60s, who find the less strenuous exercise associated with many of these games more appropriate to their needs.

Enthusiastic exergamers of all ages should however watch out for the newly coined ailment Wii elbow, a soreness and pain in the arm joints caused by excessive Wii game play (based on the expression tennis elbow).

The expression exergaming is, of course, formed from a blend of the words exercise and gaming. Although the term itself is relatively new, the concept has been around for some time. Initial attempts to develop exergaming products date as far back as the early eighties, when for example video game manufacturer Atari developed an exercise bike that could be hooked up to one of its early games consoles.

A generic term in the same area is exertainment, referring to activities or products involving both exercise and entertainment. This follows the model of other new expressions describing dual-purpose entertainment, such as edutainment (entertainment with an educational function), charitainment (entertainment for charity fund-raising ) and infotainment (information/current affairs presented in an entertaining way).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

drive-by download

drive-by download noun [C] /dravba danld/

when programs are installed on an online computer without the user’s knowledge

drive-by downloading noun [U]

“Most users have no idea such a drive-by download has taken place, even as these Trojan horses surreptitiously log their banking passwords or other private information...”
Trading Markets 21st November 2007

Drive-by downloading has also become a huge issue, as the bad guys are now putting stuff on reputable Web sites… It's not good enough to evade dodgy Web sites anymore, as you can automatically download malware by visiting any number of good Web sites.”
ITWeb 31st October 2007

If you’re thinking of doing the majority of your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your home computer, then beware of one of the latest threats posed by cybercriminals: the drive-by download.

A drive-by download occurs when a user inadvertently allows the transfer of information onto their computer, without being asked, and often in complete ignorance that the download occurred. The type of information transferred is typically what is referred to as spyware, software that secretly gathers information about a person, or malware, malicious software which interferes with normal computer functions and can also send personal data about the user to unauthorized parties.

Drive-by downloads can occur by simply visiting a website or reading an e-mail, but are more often triggered by clicking on a deceptive pop-up window, which may look like some kind of harmless advertisement, or an error report from the user’s own computer. They are often contained in those parts of a website not controlled or maintained by the website’s owner, such as banner advertisements, or other (web) widgets, which are small programs used to display things like ads, calendars or web traffic counters.

With recent research suggesting that as many as 600,000 new bits of malware are likely to be released in a year, the risk of succumbing to drive-by downloading is a major concern for Internet users. A recent survey undertaken by Internet search company Google Inc, revealed that as many as 1 in 10 websites were acting as hosts for malware.

The expression drive-by download has been around since about 2002, though it has gained currency more recently in the context of increasing concern about escalating problems with Internet security and Internet-based identity fraud. An alternative term used in the same context is drive-by install/installation.

The core meaning of the adjective drive-by is ‘carried out from a passing vehicle’, as in a drive-by shooting, also sometimes abbreviated to simply ‘a drive-by’. The expression drive-by download therefore presumably takes inspiration from this idea of springing a criminal act on someone before they have chance to defend themselves. Drive-by downloads are similarly sometimes referred to as drive-bys.

The adjective drive-by also occurs more figuratively to describe something performed very quickly and with a lack of care. In the UK, for instance, a drive-by valuation is an assessment of the value of a house or other building by simply looking quickly at the outside of it (and is in fact often conducted from a passing car).

Monday, November 26, 2007


starchitect noun [C] /st(r)ktekt/

a very famous architect, especially one who has designed a well-known building in the recent past.

starchitecture noun [U]
a style of building design which has become particularly famous.

starchitectural adjective

starchitecturally adverb

“In these important markets, many hotel projects are large, iconic structures employing some of the world’s most famous starchitects and designer groups…”
Hospitality Net 9th October 2007

Starchitecture on Campus - Colleges and universities from Boston to Chicago are hooked on celebrity architects whose signature designs can help boost a school's reputation…”
The Boston Globe 22nd February 2004

“Now the Bilbao effect has spread slightly south to Rioja, one of the richest wine-producing areas of Spain. The starchitectural branding is being applied to some of Rioja’s oldest and most respected wineries.”
Belgrade Design Week May 2007

Do you have a favourite building? If you do, and your choice is a product of 21st-century architecture, then the chances are it was designed by a starchitect.

A blend of the words star and architect, starchitect is a recent coinage used to describe a famous architect who has been responsible for the design of an iconic 21st-century building. This is typically some kind of public building which attracts a degree of media interest, and thereby imparts a sort of celebrity status to its designer. Examples of such buildings and their respective starchitects are: the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, designed by Frank Gehry, the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, UK, designed by Daniel Libeskind, and the headquarters of Swiss Re in London (informally known as ‘the Gherkin’), designed by Lord Norman Foster.

A key characteristic of the work of starchitects is what is popularly referred to as ‘the wow factor’ - the creation of an impressive building which incorporates unique features and is highly visible within its location. Current technology and the influence of mass media in the digital age mean that the wider public get to see and appreciate such buildings a long time before they actually, if indeed ever, visit them for themselves. The buildings therefore quickly assume a kind of iconic status and turn their designers into starchitects renowned for a particular ‘signature’ design.

On the model of the words architect and architecture, the noun starchitecture is also sometimes used, along with derived adjective/adverb starchitectural/starchitecturally.

Used since around 2001, the terms starchitect and starchitecture are clever blends of star and architecture/architecture which neatly cash in on the repetition of the vowel // in the two words. The concept of starchitecture is thought to have arisen from what is referred to as the Bilbao Effect in architectural contexts. This expression refers to the aforementioned Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which opened in 1997 and was designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. Now hailed as a landmark project, the seductive architecture of the museum put the old, industrial city of Bilbao on the international cultural map. Cities on both sides of the Atlantic followed suit, inspired by the transformation of a run-down area into a magnet for tourists. The Bilbao project proved an influential example of how new architecture had the potential to revitalise cities in economic decline.

Starchitect has mildly pejorative overtones, and has also been used in a more tongue-in-cheek fashion to refer to popular celebrities who have become involved in architecture

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


wikiality also Wikiality noun [C/U] /

something which is considered to be true because the majority of people agree on it, rather than because of real facts

"Colbert praised Wikipedia for "wikiality," the reality that exists if you make something up and enough people agree with you - it becomes reality."
Newsvine.com 1st August 2006

“The world’s chimpanzee population is falling.”
“Brighton’s most frequently-ordered restaurant dish is fish and chips.”
“The M25 is carrying five times more traffic than anticipated.”

We all hear and read so-called facts like these, and nine times out of ten, unless we’re particularly prone to scepticism, we simply accept them as a reality. We wouldn’t usually stop to question their validity - let’s face it, most of us haven’t got the time! And so it seems that these ‘truths’ sit easily in our minds simply by virtue of being mentioned by enough people. But take a minute to consider this: are they reality or wikiality?

The expression wikiality has recently been coined to describe a reality that is determined by general consensus of opinion, rather than by cold, hard, facts. In other words, if enough people say something is true, then it is true.

Of course the concept underlying wikiality is nothing new. But it has been made all the more significant in an age where written information is so easily accessed and disseminated via the Internet. What’s more, people have the opportunity to modify that information through the medium of the wiki, a web page that can be edited collaboratively. Though websites like Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, are an invaluable resource for everyone, they also run the risk of giving us false information. A by-product of open access means that in principle anyone has the opportunity to make something become a ‘fact’, simply by tapping a keyboard and entering it on the relevant page.

The expression wikiality is a blend of the words wiki and reality. It was coined in July 2006 by US comedian Stephen Colbert, who featured it in his satirical news commentary programme The Colbert Report. Linking with his earlier coinage truthiness (the quality of stating facts that you believe or want to be true), Colbert threw the spotlight on Wikipedia, asserting that “… any user can change any entry, and if enough other users agree with them, it becomes true". The logical consequence is ‘truth by consensus’, or, as he calls it, wikiality. The spoof online encyclopedia wikiality.com is a parody of Wikipedia, describing itself as ‘The Encyclopedia of Truthiness’.

The word wiki, still itself very new, has proved very productive in our increasingly web-centered world. Other recent derivatives include wikification, the process of turning a website into a wiki, which has a related verb wikify, and wikinovel, a collaborative piece of fiction, whose co-writers are described as wikinovelists.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Afterparty also after-party, after party noun (also verb) [C]

A relaxed social gathering which occurs after a party, concert, or trip to a nightclub.

'Going three for eight wasn't the only thing that Mariah Carey and Kanye West had in common on Grammy night. Both also hosted the most anticipated afterparties . Revelers had to travel to a secret location in Beverly Hills and then board shuttles to get to Mariah's party .'
MTV News, 9th February 2006

'. i can honestly recommend the marriott in brighton. that's where we & our guests stayed (it also has a huge lobby bar that we afterpartied in...).'
personal weblog, 9th May 2005

One of the movie industry's most influential award ceremonies takes place on Sunday 5th March 2006 - the 78th annual Oscars, to be held at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. In the aftermath of the glitz, glamour and hype, and the inevitable speculation about the winners and the reaction to them, the media will be avidly following the afterparties, the exclusive social gatherings attended by celebrities wanting to 'chill out' after the excitement of the ceremony.

The word afterparty, also regularly occurring as an open compound after party or hyphenated after-party, is now used to describe a social gathering which occurs after a party or other potentially noisy and crowded event such as a trip to a nightclub. It has also morphed into a verb, with some evidence for forms such as afterpartying and afterpartied as illustrated in the second citation above. Afterparties usually involve people sitting down, relaxing, chatting freely and consolidating new friendships that may have begun during the main party. If the afterparty takes place in the early hours of the morning, it may go on to include breakfast.

Though afterparties can be impromptu gatherings in the homes of ordinary people, the use of the word popularised by the media refers to a pre-planned event held at a specific venue, including cocktails, entertainment and an exclusive guest list featuring high-profile celebrities.

The word afterparty first appeared in the early eighties, though has gained currency much more recently through its exposure in web-based journalism. A related term is the noun/adjective chillout (also chill-out), which emerged in the early nineties based on the phrasal verb chill out ('to spend time relaxing'). The word chillout encapsulates the quiet period after a party or other hectic event when slow, soothing music is played in a calming atmosphere. One of its most common uses is in referring to a style of soothing music, e.g. chillout music, or simply chillout. In 2002, the idea of chilling out was taken to the extreme in the new concept of a quiet party, an unconventional social gathering in which loud noise and talking are prohibited, with guests often communicating though hand-written notes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


seachanger noun [C] Australian

a person who makes a significant change in lifestyle by moving to the seaside or country

seachange noun [C] Australian
a significant change in lifestyle

'Bumper house prices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, have financed thousands of seachangers. There are now about 4 million people living in coastal areas such as the Maroochy Shire. Another million are expected in the next 15 years.'
The Sydney Morning Herald, 11th October 2004

'Are you dreaming about escaping the suburban rat race and heading to the coast? This is your opportunity to make a seachange.'
www.communicatcareers.com.au, 2005

People who are fed up with the pressures of city life often dream of making a fresh start in a country or seaside location, where the air is clean and the pace of life more relaxed. Australia has in recent years witnessed a significant trend in realizing this kind of dream, with thousands of professional people leaving cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for a more idyllic lifestyle in areas such as the Queensland coast. These types are referred to as the seachangers, people who have decided to improve their quality of life by moving to the coast or countryside.

This radical transformation in lifestyle is sometimes also described by the related countable noun seachange, often occurring as make a seachange to refer to the act of relocating. Seachange was highlighted as one of the buzzwords of Australian English in 2004, featuring in academic studies and government reports. So great has been the seachange influx that coastal communities are warning that the lifestyle which attracted people will be destroyed, ruined by overcrowding. Councils around the Australian coast have formed a National Seachange Taskforce to lobby for assistance with planning and the funding of amenities.

The words treechanger and treechange have been coined as alternatives in recent months, in response to the observation that seachange(r) is increasingly being used in the context of locations which aren't necessarily coastal, and is therefore beginning to lose its association with the actual sea.

The word seachanger originates from a popular Australian drama series called SeaChange, which features a lawyer who leaves the pressures of the city to start a new life as a magistrate in the sleepy seaside town of Pearl Bay.

The name for the series was cleverly based on the compound noun sea change , which describes a radical change in the nature of something. Sea change is often used in political contexts, referring to a significant shift in policy or opinion. The expression sea change in fact has its origins with Shakespeare, occurring in a song from The Tempest:

Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

Shakespeare meant that the sea (i.e. submersion in water) caused a transformation of the body (of Ferdinand's father). Though the original expression featured a hyphen, most modern dictionaries record sea change as an open compound (i.e. with a space, rather than a hyphen), and increasingly it's occurring as a solid compound (i.e. as one word, with no space), as reflected by Australian usage of seachange and seachanger

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


nanopublishing noun [U]

low-cost online publishing which uses techniques based on blogging (writing weblogs) to target a specific audience

nanopublisher noun [C]
nanopublished adjective

'Nanopublishing will not replace magazine publishing or mass media. It is a new opportunity. It won't make money for political punditry or for the diaries of college students. But it will work for gadgets and sex and special interests such as disease - imagine a great weblog for diabetics - because it is so cheap to publish.' The Guardian, 30th January 2003

'Nanopublisher Nick Denton is apparently making cash from his sites .'
livejournal.com, 26th November 2004

A weblog, or blog , is an online personal journal which is frequently updated and usually intended for general public consumption, often incorporating subjects of topical interest. The practice of blogging (writing weblogs), which began to emerge in the late nineties, has steadily gained in popularity during the last two or three years, with issues such as support or opposition to the war with Iraq triggering more widespread use of blogs as a platform for expression of opinions in a variety of political and social contexts (though not without potential risks, as a recent Word of The Week article on the new term dooced illustrates!).

Though weblogs have traditionally been of personal and non-commercial origin, entrepreneurs in the blogging community have more recently begun to realise that they have potential in reaching a very large audience quickly and cheaply. Blogs can be exploited for marketing, advertising and media purposes, targeting audiences with specific opinions or interests. This kind of activity has given rise to a recent neologism in online business: nanopublishing , with the noun nanopublisher coined to refer to bloggers who engage in it. There is also some evidence for a derived adjective nanopublished.

Among the first examples of nanopublishing blogs was Gizmodo, launched in August 2002 by New York based publisher Nick Denton. Gizmodo is aimed at gadget enthusiasts, with almost every gadget reviewed there linked to a purchase page on the Amazon shopping site . With minimal start-up and maintenance costs, but the potential to generate commission through links to Amazon and other retail sites , weblogs such as Gizmodo have inspired other blogging entrepreneurs to invest time and money in nanopublishing.

The word nanopublishing was coined by Jeff Jarvis, creative director of the US company Advance Publications Inc. Jarvis first used the term after being shown Gawker, a New York media gossip weblog launched by Nick Denton in December 2002. The prefix nano- is derived from the Greek word nanos , meaning 'dwarf', and is used figuratively in the word to denote the idea of 'publishing on an extremely small scale'. An alternative term incorporating the same idea is thin media.

The term weblog first came into general recognition in 1997. The original use of its shortened form blog is thought to be attributed to Californian Peter Merholz, who in May 1999 posted the following in his weblog: 'For What It's Worth: I've decided to pronounce the word "weblog" as wee-blog. Or "blog" for short.' Blog was immediately adopted as a noun, and as a verb meaning 'to write weblogs', and gained currency when later in the same year the web publishing tool Blogger was launched by Pyra Labs, a dotcom that was bought by Google in 2003. The term blogger subsequently came into general use as a reference to 'someone who writes weblogs.'

Monday, October 15, 2007


(also timesis) noun (C,U)

Tmesis is a long-established word in English which has remained relatively obscure, though it refers to the well-known creative process of splitting existing words and placing others in between. This is a productive process of word formation, often also described by theoretical linguists as infixation, but used specifically for the purpose of adding emphasis. Conventional definitions of tmesis refer to the division of compound words, like, for instance, the splitting of whatsoever in what place soever or what man soever . However, there is plenty of current evidence for tmesis occurring in not just compound words but also between morphemes (word components) with analysable meaning, as in im-bloody-possible and even purely between syllables as in abso-blooming-lutely. Abso-blooming-lutely was first famously used by the character Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw's classic play Pygmalion (1916) , but the use of tmesis has been revisited in recent years in the language of fictional characters such as David Brent in the BBC comedy series The Office, or Rachel in the UK television drama series Cold Feet, who popularised the use of fan-bloody-tastic . Modern use of tmesis is almost exclusively confined to the infixation of expletives such as blooming, bloody or worse!

The term tmesis is based on the same word in Greek, meaning 'cutting', and developed from the Greek verb temnein, 'to cut'. An often quoted original example of tmesis is the splitting of the word however in Shakespeare's Richard II:
'If on the first, how heinous e'er it be, To win thy after-love I pardon thee.'

Tmesis normally occurs in words that have three or more syllables, and the infixed word generally occurs before the syllable which bears the stress, hence fan-bloody-tastic rather than fantas-bloody-tic.