Phrase of the day: second wind

I spent last week at the annual IATEFL conference, which this year was held in Glasgow. I’ve been speaking at the conference for almost twenty years now, and it’s always an amazing experience. You get to meet loads and loads of people who do basically the same kind of job as you do; you get to catch up with old friends – and make plenty of new ones; you get to find out what’s going on in your field . . . . and, of course, there’s loads of after-hours socialising. Now, most of this takes place in restaurants and bars and it can go on well into the night! Sometimes you even find yourself out with someone who’s in possession of a corporate credit card which gets put behind the bar, meaning there are free drinks all night.

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There’s a lot of shop talk – talk about work, which could possibly be boring for others not in the same line of business – and plenty of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing that usually involves people touting their wares and looking for work or else trying to poach people from other companies – to persuade them to leave their present job and join your team instead, especially using secret and maybe even not entirely honest methods! Anyway, by about midnight most people have had enough and decide to call it a day. The pubs close, and the sensible people head home to get some sleep ahead of another long day, leaving the hardcore to go on somewhere and drink themselves stupid.

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On more than one occasion last week, in late-night dive bars I ran into people who I thought had already gone home. When I questioned them as to what they were still doing out on the town, they’d smile guiltily and claim they’d found second wind. Often, this wind seems to have been delivered in the form of a shot of tequila or vodka!

If you find – or get – (a) second wind, you find new strength or energy to continue something that’s an effort! You find the strength to keep going! The phrase seems to come from long-distance runners, the kinds of people who do marathons and who often report finding themselves dead on their feet, totally out of breath and on the verge of giving up when they suddenly find the strength to press on at the same level of performance, but with slightly less effort.

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It’s not only runners and drinkers who can get second wind, though. In the wake of the Westminster government’s push for a hard Brexit, which will force the UK out of the EU single market, the desire for a second independence referendum has found a second wind up in Scotland, as became very clear last week. Sometimes products start off selling quite well, then experience a dip in sales before getting second wind and going on to sell better than ever. And, of course, the phrase itself gives newspaper headline writers something to play with, so recently I read that wind farms have got a second wind – there’s renewed enthusiasm and government support for the idea of using wind farms to generate electricity.

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Unfortunately, since returning home, I’ve not personally managed to find any second wind at all. In fact, the opposite seems to be true as I’ve spent much of this week trying to get over a cold and just simply recovering! I guess I’ve only myself to blame!

Want to learn more with Lexical Lab? Take our ENGLISH BOOST course this summer.

  • Can you think of a time when you suddenly got second wind? What were you doing?
  • Can you think of any products that suddenly experienced a second wind? Why?
  • Do you ever go to conferences? To speak or just to attend? What do you like most about them?
  • Does your line of work involve much after-hours socialising?
  • Do you know anyone who’s been poached by another company? What happened?
  • Can you think of a time when you had only yourself to blame for how you felt?
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