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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

Hodmandod A traditional English riddle runs “Though not a cow I have horns; / Though not an ass I carry a pack-saddle; / And wherever I go I leave silver behind me.” The answer, in a curious little ...
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Stitched up like a kipper I have to confess to twitching whenever anybody mentions kippers. A few years ago, I did a radio piece for an American radio programme on another kipper-related expression ...
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Randomly chosen

Glebe This came to mind when passing a field in the town where I live, which lies opposite the church; a house beside it, Glebe Cottage, was centuries ago the vicarage. In England, the glebe was historically ...
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The next website update

The next update is due on 26 April 2014. You should then be able to read about the utter oddness of the word odd, and investigate the term bug letter that derives from a century-old urban legend. If you had subscribed to my newsletter, you would already have seen them, and more besides.

Recently added pages

On the lam; Decussate; Box of birds; Cacoethes; Supernaculum; Sugar daddy; Misanthrope; Grimoire; Brown Windsor soup; Ham; Hypnopompic; Blind Freddie; Fawn; Haymaker; Whet one’s appetite; Turdiform; Gibbous; Nummits and crummits; Apotropaic; Give the mitten; Chloephobia; Prolegomenon; Snake oil; Gifable; MINT; Rhine; Wheeling and dealing; Ganderflanking; Sizzle and steak; Dulcarnon; Squared away; All Sir Garnet; Conformator; Blatteroon.

Last updated 19 April 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: 14 December 2013.