10 English expressions I found in the news recently

1. jump ship

In a number of U.S. cities and states, new laws are being passed to raise the minimum wage (minimum salary). However, this makes more experienced employees feel that it’s not fair that new workers already get paid a lot – so some companies are offering extra benefits, fearing that their veteran workers might otherwise jump ship.

The expression jump ship means to leave a job/company or a project/activity suddenly, especially when there are difficulties with the situation and you have better opportunities elsewhere.

Also, the expression veteran workers refers to workers who have experience. The word “veteran” is often used for people who have previous military experience; however, it can also be used more broadly for anyone with extensive experience in a job or activity.

2. decline to (do something)

The company GM is now testing a self-driving taxi. GM made a statement that electric cars blend perfectly with automated technology, although it declined to give specifics about the project.

If you decline to do something, it means you politely refuse to do it. You say you won’t do it, but in a nice way (not a rude way).

The word decline is also used when you say “no” to an invitation – for example, if someone invites you to dinner but you decline, it means you politely say “no.”

3. hamper / ramp up

There are some major fires in oil-producing regions of Canada, and damage to infrastructure could hamper efforts to ramp up output.

The phrasal verb ramp up means to increase the amount, volume, or speed of something. So in this sentence, Canada wants to ramp up (increase) oil output (output = what a factory/process produces) – however, the damage from the fires could hamper this effort. The verb hamper means to prevent progress.

4. cease-fire / deadlock

In Syria, there’s a cease-fire so that negotiations can take place – but right now there’s a diplomatic deadlock.

cease-fire is an agreement to stop active fighting. This can also be called a truce. 

They stopped fighting in Syria so that they could try to negotiate a peace agreement. Unfortunately, there’s a deadlock – this means the negotiations are completely stopped because both sides are holding firm in their positions and don’t want to change anything to be agreeable to the other side.

5. step down / divert

Brazil’s Speaker of the House had to step down because he diverted funds from Brazil’s state oil company into his own private accounts.

If you step down, it means you leave a position of leadership or authority.

This person diverted money – the verb divert means to turn something in a different direction from the direction it is going.

6. bent on (doing something)

There are some new regulations that make it more difficult for e-cigarettes to get approved for sale in the U.S. – the Food & Drug Administration seems bent on blocking an advance in public health.

If you are bent on doing something, it means you are very firm in your purpose; you are determined to do it and it is not easy for other people to convince you to change your mind.

7. pushback

Pharmaceutical companies face pushback when they raise the prices of drugs.

The word pushback refers to opposition or resistance, especially to a new policy.

8. in the wake of

Many people are posting YouTube videos of Prince in the wake of his death.

The expression in the wake of refers to the time after a significant event has occurred.

9. steer clear of / embrace

In the upcoming U.S. elections, other Republican politicians have to decide whether to steer clear of Donald Trump or embrace him as an ally.

To steer clear of something/someone means to avoid it because it is dangerous/bad for you.

To embrace something/someone means to accept it and support it eagerly.

10. boom / peak

There was a boom in running over the past two decades, but it hit its peak in 2013 and now the number of runners is going down.

In this context, a boom is a sudden increase (especially an increase in popularity). The peak is the highest point.

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