<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-K3L4M3" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">

Mind your language

Do we wrestle coronavirus to the floor – or the ground?

16 May 2020

9:00 AM

16 May 2020

9:00 AM

In the game of ‘U’ and ‘Non-U’, begun by Alan S.C. Ross (1907-80) and popularised in Nancy Mitford’s volume Noblesse Oblige, some words embody upper-class usage (U), and some definitely do not. To the Non-U toilet and serviette might be added floorin the sense of the ground outdoors.

Did Boris Johnson succumb to Non-U usage in remarks about coronavirus? ‘If this virus were a physical assailant, an unexpected and invisible mugger,’ he said, ‘then this is the moment when we have begun together to wrestle it to the floor.’

Already a subscriber? Log in

Subscribe for just $2 a week

Try a month of The Spectator Australia absolutely free and without commitment. Not only that but – if you choose to continue – you’ll pay just $2 a week for your first year.

  • Unlimited access to spectator.com.au and app
  • The weekly edition on the Spectator Australia app
  • Spectator podcasts and newsletters
  • Full access to spectator.co.uk

Unlock this article


You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first month for free, then just $2 a week for the remainder of your first year.


Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator Australia readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in