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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 discussion by readers, serendipitous encounters with unfamiliar language, and tongue-in-cheek tut-tuttings at errors perpetrated by sloppy writers.

New this week

Logicidal Taking a line through suicidal, genocidal and dozens of words of similar form, we know this must mean the killing of something. The Greek logos can mean a word, as in logophile, a lover of ...
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File They are words with different origins and forms that just happen to be said and spelled the same. English has many such, called homonyms, because its words derive from many different ...
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Randomly chosen

Pusillanimous If you are pusillanimous, you have a small soul or weak spirit, one with few reserves of strength with which to resist the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The implications are of ...
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The next website update

The next update is due on 26 July 2014. You should then be able find out what the bounding main is and why it bounds. If you subscribed to my newsletter, you would already have seen it, and more besides.

Recently added pages

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; Bug letter; Stitched up like a kipper; Hodmandod; On the lam; Decussate; Cacoethes; Supernaculum; Box of birds; Misanthrope; Sugar daddy; Brown Windsor soup; Hypnopompic; Ham; Blind Freddie; Fawn; Grimoire; Haymaker; Turdiform; Nummits and crummits; Whet one’s appetite.

Last updated 19 July 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: 17 July 2014.