Dot Wordsworth

The Latin ‘ictus’

Ictus can as easily be applied to the stress on a syllable in poetry

By Dot Wordsworth

Many people have fallen upon petrichor as a favorite word

But how is it pronounced?

By Dot Wordsworth

What’s so great about ‘super’?

As a label of approval, it dates only from the 1950s

By Dot Wordsworth

How ‘ACAB’ links David Bowie and BLM

In graffiti form it is sometimes rendered 1312, from the place of the letters in the alphabet

By Dot Wordsworth

Is it exotic to vibrate?

Only in 1993 did the Oxford English Dictionary catch up with a newer meaning of vibrant that suggested ‘vitality or the exotic’

By Dot Wordsworth

The meaning of artichoke

Artichoke came into English in the 16th century from words already obscure in their derivation

By Dot Wordsworth

The concrete truth about ‘Formica’

Mica was an electrical insulator — the original purpose of Formica

By Dot Wordsworth

Where did ‘decuman’ come from?

Ovid and Lucan used decumanus, he found, of a wave, but not absolutely, as a noun

By Dot Wordsworth

The unfortunate misuse of ‘fortuitous’

An airplane crashing into your house would be fortuitous, but not, from most points of view, fortunate

By Dot Wordsworth

Ask Jeeves: who first came out with ‘What ho’?

In 1899, the music-hall song ‘What ho! She bumps!’, with words by Harry Castling, was a hit

By Dot Wordsworth

The word of the year (whether we like it or not)

There is no vaccine against a word, but I hope coronavirus will be in less demand in 2021

By Dot Wordsworth

The strange language of this year

We have become distanced strangers fearful of a handshake or a kiss

By Dot Wordsworth

Starting out in cyber

I am annoyed by the use of cyber as a noun

By Dot Wordsworth


Is Billie Eilish really in shock over James Bond?

‘Shock’, from the French ‘choque’, began as the word for a collision of armies

By Dot Wordsworth

Why must we ‘live with’ coronavirus?

Living with is a phrasal verb first applied, in the 17th century, to spouses

By Dot Wordsworth

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