Carve out

'Carve out' means to make space for something or someone

Today's story: Nearshoring
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Carve out

“Carve out.”

This is a phrasal verb that means, to make some space for yourself, or for something. It comes from the word “carve.” “Carve” means to cut something up with a knife. So if you roast a turkey, you carve it after it comes out of the oven. You can carve a block of wood with a knife, to make a wooden sculpture.

But “carve out” is used metaphorically, and it means to make space. A great way to use this is with time,especially in a business setting.

“Let’s carve out some time to talk about the new project.” That means, “let’s make some time,” let’s make the space out of our schedules. We’re not going to use a knife, but we are going to take our schedules and separate some time.

“I’m too busy answering e-mails. I can’t carve out any time for long-term planning.” “I can’t carve out any time” means, I can’t make any time, I can’t find it, my schedule is too busy.

You can carve out a role for yourself. In a lot of jobs, there’s a job description. You do what’s written in the job description. But in other jobs, it’s more flexible. In some jobs, you can decide exactly how you make an impact. If you have a job like that, you can say that you’re carving out a role for yourself: you decide how you get to make an impact. You decide your place.

This happens in sports, too. Not every player is a superstar; not everyone has the same skills. A player that’s good at one specific thing might carve out a role for himself on the team. That means, he might find some space for himself, find a role for himself. The key is, he makes the space, he makes the role, based on his skills.

A basketball player might be really good at making three-point baskets. That’s not something a team needs during the whole game. But a player can carve out a role for himself and be the guy they put in the game when they need some three-point scoring. In this case, it’s about the player making space for himself on the team: hey, I have these skills, you need them sometimes, let me be the one to fill this space on the team. That’s carving a role.

A business can carve out a market. When a business carves out a market, the business usually makes or takes some small part of the market for itself. Here’s an example. Snack bars are popular, but the biggest brands are full of artificial ingredients and they’re not very healthy. So a company called Kind decided to carve out a market in healthier, tastier snack bars.

This is perfect. The company said: there’s demand for healthy food; there’s demand for snack bars. We’re going to make some space for ourselves in this market. And our space is going to be healthy, great-tasting snack bars. Kind carved out a market for itself. It made space for itself.

A “niche” is a specialized segment of a market. A company can carve out a niche for itself. That means, a company can say: here is one small, specialized part of the market, and we are going to be the experts in that.

Have you ever wanted to eat aQR code ? Probably not. But as you learned in Lesson 610, there are edible QR code labels. They go on rounds of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese . And since they are a food product, anything that goes on them must be edible—and so this company carved out a niche for itself, making those edible QR code labels.

Countries and regions can carve out space or a role for themselves, too. Turkey has carved out a role as an intermediary between Russia and the West. After Russia invaded Ukraine, few countries wanted to talk to Russia directly. But Turkey carved out a role for itself as an intermediary between Russia and other countries.

Romania hascarved out a niche for itself in semiconductor manufacturing . Europe has traditionally bought semiconductors from the U.S. or China. But recently, Romania has carved out a niche for itself, making semiconductors in eastern Europe. The country invested in the industry and now it has this specialty.

See you next time!

And that is all for us here at Plain English. We have carved out a niche for ourselves here, as the best place for you to upgrade your English if you like following current events. And many of you listen to the audios in the car, as you do errands, at home. But if you haven’t yet been to the web site, I’m telling you, you’re missing out. Check out PlainEnglish.com to join, unlock some great content. There are three membership levels and one of them is absolutely free.

So check that out at PlainEnglish.com. We’ll be back on Thursday with a new episode, right on schedule. See you then.

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Story: Nearshoring