Dot Wordsworth

Does 'autonomy' mean anything any more?

26 July 2014 9:00 am

My husband is constantly amused by talk of patient autonomy — for people who want to have a limb lopped…

Origins of the toe-rag

19 July 2014 9:00 am

‘I am glad to say that I have never seen a toe-rag,’ said my husband, assuming, as unconvincingly as one…

Just how old-fashioned is Labour's 'cost of living' campaign?

12 July 2014 9:00 am

Labour’s appeal to the cost of living has a rather old-fashioned feel to it: as if the whole nation still…

Diffuse, defuse and the damnably confused

5 July 2014 9:00 am

It’s funny how people hardly know what they are saying. I read recently of diplomats going to Riyadh ‘to diffuse…

The bloody battle for the name Isis

28 June 2014 9:00 am

‘This’ll make you laugh,’ said my husband, looking up from the Daily Telegraph. For once he was right. It was…

Terrorists still can't 'execute' anyone

21 June 2014 9:00 am

During the sudden advances of ISIS in Iraq, one visual image stood for their brutality. As the Daily Mail reported…

Why would a Danish queen say 'basta'?

14 June 2014 8:00 am

My husband heard me in the kitchen exclaim: ‘What would I do without you?’ He curiously imagined I was referring…

Square meals didn't start in Nelson's navy – but you could get one in a gold-rush town

7 June 2014 9:00 am

I never dare go with my husband to any restaurant that uses square plates or he will play up the…

The sinister new meaning of ‘support’

31 May 2014 9:00 am

When I asked my husband why paramedical professions were given to remaking the language in strange ways, he replied in…

‘Basta’ must be the Queen’s English — a Queen used it

24 May 2014 9:00 am

My chickens do not usually come home to roost so rapidly. Only a fortnight ago I wrote that ‘some people use…

How DO you pronounce 'Marylebone'? 

17 May 2014 9:00 am

‘Take a trip to Marylebone station,’ chanted my husband. ‘Do not pass Go. Do not collect £200.’ I had been…

What the French now mean when they say ‘bugger’

10 May 2014 9:00 am

The French for tête-à-tête is one-to-one now, according to a new survey of English invaders by Alexandre des Isnards. Actually,…

Why –y? The evolution of a suffix

3 May 2014 9:00 am

Hitler was ‘dark, shouty, moustachioed’ in Churchill’s eyes, or rather, that was Jonathan Rose’s view of how Churchill saw Hitler,…

Dot Wordsworth: What is an astel?

26 April 2014 9:00 am

Dear old Ian Hislop was pottering around North Petherton, Somerset, on television, to talk about the Alfred Jewel, found nearby…

What's in a universe?

19 April 2014 9:00 am

‘So there are lots of universes besides ours,’ the ancient atomists concluded, in the brief account by Peter Jones (Ancient…

Ping – a silly word with a heroic history

12 April 2014 9:00 am

In the search for the remains of flight MH370, a pulse signal was detected beneath the ocean. The BBC called…

Why did we ever spell jail gaol?

5 April 2014 9:00 am

‘Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect £200.’ said the Community Chest card…

When did we stop ‘tossing’ coins?

29 March 2014 9:00 am

What kind of scientists do school inspectors not need to be? ‘Inspectors don’t need to be rocket scientists.’ For what…

When Google can't help you

22 March 2014 9:00 am

‘Ask your telephone,’ said my husband satirically when I made an innocent enquiry on a point of fact. My telephone…

How 'de-escalate' escalated

15 March 2014 9:00 am

‘What we want to see,’ David Cameron said last week, ‘is a de-escalation.’ Or, as the Tanaiste of Ireland put…

Very bad poems on the Underground

8 March 2014 9:00 am

My husband was surprised by quite a bit when we travelled by Underground in London the other day. Although he…

Why does everything suddenly need 'resilience'?

1 March 2014 9:00 am

They were talking on the wireless about Brazilians in the flooded areas, or so I thought. Once the kettle had…

When Scotland goes, will England return?

22 February 2014 9:00 am

Who, my husband asked, expects every man will do his duty? He was responding to the interesting and important question…

A learned poet's mystifying mistakes

15 February 2014 9:00 am

I enjoy Poetry Please, but was shouting mildly at the wireless the other day when a northern woman poet was…

Lumpen’s journey from Marxism to nonsense

8 February 2014 9:00 am

A publisher, Kevin Mayhew, has written to The Tablet, which is not a computer journal but a weekly magazine of…