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About this site

The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or change their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least some part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, the background to words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

This is the archive of pieces that have appeared in the free newsletter. Weekly issues include much more than appears here, including comment by readers, serendipitous encounters with unfamiliar language, and tongue-in-cheek tut-tuttings at errors perpetrated by sloppy writers.

New this week

Raparee This might look like one of the many words ending in -ee for a person affected in some manner by the action of the associated verb, such as employee, inductee, internee ...
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Footloose and fancy free I’ve found one story which claims that it’s from the foremost member of a prison chain gang in the American south, who had one ankle left free so he could move ...
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Randomly chosen

Sesquipedalian We owe this word to the Roman writer Horace, who wrote in his Ars Poetica (The Art of Poetry): “Proicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba” (“He throws aside his paint pots and his words ...
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The next website update

The next update is due on 6 September 2014. You should then be able to read about the very rare word jentacular, and the difference between furthest and farthest. If you subscribed to my newsletter, you would already have seen it, and more besides.

Recently added pages

Animadvert; Vigorish; Corybantic; Going spare; Epilimnion; Nail; Lucubration; Blooper; Bounding main; Precrastination; File; Logocidal; Bat an eyelid; Closet versus Cupboard; Gyre; Skeleton in the closet; Nuciform; Colporteur; Red rag to a bull; Hail fellow well met; Kith; Busman’s holiday; Opusculum; Marthambles; London to a brick; Nipcheese; Flammable; Odd; Stitched up like a kipper; Bug letter; Hodmandod; On the lam; Decussate; Cacoethes; Supernaculum.

Last updated 30 Aug. 2014.

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World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 30 August 2014.