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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

On the lam But you’re asking, right? On the lam has had a good life. It appeared near the end of the nineteenth century and is still common. To be on the lam is to be on the run from the police or to have ...
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Decussate You may be reminded of Dr Samuel Johnson’s famously unhelpful try at defining network in his Dictionary of 1755: “Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices ...
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Randomly chosen

Vulcan If you ask a dozen people at random about this word, it’s a safe bet that most replies will feature a pointy-eared alien. Spock’s native planet is newsworthy this week, not because of the forthcoming ...
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The next website update

The next update is due on 19 April 2014. You should then be able to read about the curious old southern English dialect term for a snail, hodmandod, and the weird British slang expression stitched up like a kipper. If you had subscribed to my newsletter, you would already have seen them, and more besides.

Recently added pages

Box of birds; Cacoethes; Supernaculum; Sugar daddy; Misanthrope; Grimoire; Brown Windsor soup; Ham; Blind Freddie; Hypnopompic; 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; Sizzle and steak; Ganderflanking; Dulcarnon; Squared away; All Sir Garnet; Conformator; Blatteroon; Case the joint; Larrikin; Feghoot.

Last updated 12 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.