Air bridges and she-sheds offer positive vibe after lockdown

After a year when many of the new words coming into the Collins Dictionary have involved measures to ensure public safety amid the coronavirus pandemic, the words that have arrived in June may hint at how people are planning to escape from lockdown and re-establish social activities.

Some of the routes back towards normality have been well publicized in the media. One plan involves people establishing a social bubble, a small group of people who socialize together but do not meet members of other households, while for those with more ambitious plans an air bridge – an agreement to waive travel restrictions between two countries – might open up the possibility of heading overseas again.

As people start to put their lives back together, one theme that emerges from this month’s’ words is a concern with maintaining emotional wellbeing. Several of June’s new entries touch on this: self-care refers to looking after your own basic needs without relying on anyone else, and to do this effectively you may need a good headspace, which is defined as not just your state of mind, but also “the capacity to think clearly, without interference”. And where better to take care of your emotional needs than a dedicated area where you can indulge in hobbies and interests? The answer could lie in the she-shed, a place that is conceived of as the feminine equivalent of the man cave, where women can go to have a bit of me-time without being distracted by other family members.

A rather different language trend that can be seen in this month’s words is that some words that were previously listed only as nouns are now being used as verbs as well. One example of this is paywall, which previously just meant a barrier on website that locked you out of some pages unless you paid a fee. As a verb, it means to impose this barrier. Another example is vibe. As a noun, this meant “a special atmosphere”, but the word is increasingly being used as a verb meaning “to have a pleasant experience”, which is something you might achieve after travelling abroad through an air bridge, or perhaps inside your she-shed.

Written by Ian Brookes, writer and editor.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

Other Articles

Gill (Jyl) Francis 1945 – 2024

Gill Francis (she later used the spelling Jyl) was one of the pioneering team who worked on the Collins Cobuild English Dictionary (CCED), published in 1995, and led a small team that compiled the Grammar Pattern series published in 1996 and 1998. In this she was… Read More

Pizza, Pasta, Parole

The ninth of February marks World Pizza Day. A day to celebrate that quintessentially Neapolitan dish which has become, er, quintessentially everywhere, but perhaps particularly in the US, where it sometimes morphs into ‘pizza pie’, and in the UK, where it’s become part of our cosmopolitan – some might say… Read More

French word of the week: net

This series of weekly blogs takes a closer look at words from our French dictionaries. The word we're focusing on this week is the French adjective 'net'. Read More