Bulk up

To 'bulk up' is to get stronger by getting bigger

Today's story: Layoffs
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Bulk up

JR, pay attention: This expression is for you. To “bulk up” is to get bigger, to get stronger, by adding to something. “Bulk” is about size—bulk up is about getting bigger.

A bodybuilder, or a podcast producer, will bulk up by adding muscle and getting stronger. You might hear someone say, “I’m trying to bulk up.” So that person is eating a high-calorie diet and doing some intense weight training. If a person bulks up, the person is adding muscle and getting stronger.

But that’s not how you heard it in today’s lesson. No, I said that big technology industry companies bulked up during the pandemic . What that means is, those companies hired a lot of people. They got stronger by adding to their workforce.

“Amazon bulked up during the pandemic” means that Amazon added a lot of employees during the pandemic. But now, what happened? They realized that they bulked up a little too much. They added too many people. So they had to lay off a lot of workers.

If you don’t give any more context, a company that “bulks up” is adding employees. But a company can also bulk up a product or a line of products.

Disney launched a streaming service called Disney+. The main advantage is, it has a great library. Disney has a huge history of films to offer, from Disney’s own history. Apple TV, not so much. Apple TV created some good new shows, but a few good new shows are not enough to keep subscribers. So Apple is trying to bulk up its library. Apple is trying to make its library—the number of shows available—Apple is trying to bulk up its library by creating lots of new shows, and buying the rights to old ones. They’re bulking up their library: they’re making it stronger by making it bigger.

When you think of the biggest, most influential technology companies today, what do you think of? You might say “Microsoft,” but you might not say that first, or second or even third. But time was, Microsoft was the company to beat in the tech industry. That was in the 1990s. Then, they totally missed the social media and mobile revolution. Today , smartphones running “Windows Phone” operating system have a vice grip on 0.4 percent of the global smartphone market.

Microsoft does not want to miss the next tech wave. So Microsoft is bulking up its capabilities in artificial intelligence, or AI. Microsoft recently invested in OpenAI, the company behind the new ChatGPT bot. They are adding these capabilities, making their AI offerings stronger. So they are bulking up in artificial intelligence.

JR’s song of the week

How about a song of the week? It’s electronic music this week. The song is called “Burning Hour” by the English duo Jadu Heart. When the song was released, the band said, “We all perform rituals to keep our hearts above water.” So today’s song of the week is “Burning Hour” by Jadu Heart.

See you next time!

And that brings us to the end of today’s Plain English. Congratulations on finishing another one. Whether you’re listening with us in February 2023, or if you’re far, far in the future catching up on old episodes—great work, and I hope you learned something today.

If you’d like to learn even more about today’s topic, then check out the full lesson at PlainEnglish.com/547. We’ll be back on Monday with even more. See you then!

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Story: Layoffs