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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

Animadvert Only a writer with an extensive vocabulary and the confidence to make use of it without sounding a prat will venture this verb. One such is the British journalist and author Will Self ...
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Vigorish Vigorish is a classic item of current American slang. It can mean either the rate of interest charged on money borrowed from a loan shark or the percentage taken by bookmakers or operators of ...
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Randomly chosen

Ducks and drakes The full saying is to play ducks and drakes and it usually means to behave irresponsibly or recklessly, to squander one’s wealth, or to heedlessly throw away something of value. To play ...
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The next website update

The next update is due on 30 August 2014. You should then be able to read about raparee, a one-time Irish irregular soldier and robber, and the story of the idiom footloose and fancy free. If you subscribed to my newsletter, you would already have seen it, and more besides.

Recently added pages

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

Last updated 23 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: 23 August 2014.