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nanobreak also nano break

noun [countable]

a very short holiday which involves staying away from home for one night

'The number of people booking nano breaks has jumped 29 per cent in the past year, with some even prepared to travel as far as Moscow and Abu Dhabi for a one-night stay.'

Metro 2009

'… leading booking site Hotels.com has seen a significant rise in searches for last minute short breaks – or nanobreaks – to many popular European destinations as cash-strapped British holidaymakers fight for the right for summer sun.'

HotelNewsNow.com 17th August 2009

You don't want to bust your Yuletide budget, but as Christmas approaches you really feel the need to take a bit of time out before all that frantic festive activity kicks in. The solution? How about a nanobreak – the perfect window of opportunity to recharge your batteries without using up too much time or cash.

people often tend to see holidays as a right, rather than a luxury, so trimming them down to the bare minimum is one way to satisfy the determination to go away without spending too much money

If a minibreak is a short holiday for two or three days, a nanobreak goes one step further, condensing the holiday concept into one overnight stay. Though nanobreaks are usually taken closer to home, today's culture of regular and inexpensive air travel means that they might even be taken abroad, with destinations such as Venice, Rome and Marrakesh proving popular with British travellers, for example. Within the UK, the most popular locations for nanobreaks include Brighton, Bournemouth, Edinburgh and London.

The rise in popularity of nanobreaks is thought to be largely down to the economic climate. It seems that people often tend to see holidays as a right, rather than a luxury, so trimming them down to the bare minimum is one way to satisfy the determination to go away without spending too much money. A nanobreak is therefore yet another addition to the growing collection of economical ways to 'get away from it all', which in recent years has included the staycation (a holiday in which you stay at home and visit places near to where you live), the daycation (a day trip) and the paliday (a holiday staying with friends or family). Another recent development on the same theme is the minimoon, a blend of words minibreak and honeymoon used to describe a short, inexpensive honeymoon. It seems that financial pressures on newlyweds have led to a growing trend of short breaks as opposed to the conventional two weeks, though a minimoon is still more likely to be taken abroad.

On a related theme, it appears that we are now even feeling the need to take a breather from online as well as real-world interaction. Our growing fixation with social networking and all things electronic have respectively spawned the terms Twittercation, describing time out from microblogging on Twitter, and digital detox, a period of going 'cold turkey' on electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers, MP3 players etc. Hmmm, now there's a thought … Maybe I'll go for the nanobreak instead!

Background – nanobreak

The word nanobreak first hit the spotlight a couple of years ago in the context of research undertaken by Hotels.com, an online company specializing in reservations for hotels and other kinds of holiday accommodation. It's modelled on the earlier term minibreak, which also of course provides inspiration for the new expression minimoon.

The combining form mini- is a shortened form of the word miniature. The prefix nano- was first introduced in the late 1940s and is derived from the Greek word nanos meaning 'dwarf'. Nano- was initially restricted to use in scientific contexts and units of measurement (i.e. it denotes 'a billionth', e.g. nanosecond, nanometre), but over time has acquired a popular figurative sense of 'extremely small'.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 12th December 2011.

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