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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

Epicaricacy Occasionally, I come across a word that’s so rare and mysterious that it’s a struggle to find out anything about it. This one turned up in an article in the Observer on 10 August by Lauren ...
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Hide one’s light under a bushel For once I can give you chapter and verse for the origin, literal chapter and verse as it happens, since it’s from the Bible: “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under ...
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Randomly chosen

Gist There are three senses of gist in the Oxford English Dictionary. We’re not concerned with its obsolete sense of a right of pasture for cattle (from Anglo-Norman agister, to pasture animals) nor its ...
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The next website update

The next update is due on 20 September 2014. You should then be able to read about purple birth, porphyrogeniture, and discover the story behind the idiom to set one’s cap at. If you subscribed to my newsletter, you would already have seen it, and more besides.

Recently added pages

Furthest and farthest; Jentacular; Raparee; Footloose and fancy free; Animadvert; Vigorish; Corybantic; Going spare; Epilimnion; Nail; Lucubration; Blooper; Bounding main; Precrastination; File; Logocidal; Bat an eyelid; Gyre; Skeleton in the closet; Closet versus Cupboard; Nuciform; Colporteur; Red rag to a bull; Hail fellow well met; Kith; Busman’s holiday; London to a brick; Opusculum; Marthambles; Nipcheese; Flammable; Odd; Bug letter.

Last updated 13 Sep. 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: 13 September 2014.