Dot Wordsworth

Language

The link between spick and span, spanking and spoon

Whatever spick and span reminds us of, it is as an idiom with a cheery meaning of its own

By Dot Wordsworth

Language

The language of lounging around

I was put in mind of lounging by video conferencing, which allows conferees to attend to their visible top half while wearing lounge pants below

By Dot Wordsworth

Language

The dirty truth about ‘wash-up’

In 1920s American slang ‘wash up’ meant to finish something or somebody

By Dot Wordsworth

Language

What’s the difference between ‘gifting’ and ‘giving’?

I started at the word gifting like a horse shying at a plastic bag caught in the hedge. Why didn’t I like it?

By Dot Wordsworth

Language

Do the England team play football, footer, footie – or soccer?

Association football became soccer in the 1880s, at first sometimes written socker

By Dot Wordsworth

Language

Critical thinking: the difference between ‘critique’ and ‘criticize’

Once upon a time, the art of criticism had the name critick in Englis

By Dot Wordsworth

Language

The hijacking of the Scots language

Scots has been used as a spoken and a literary language

By 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

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