Mind your language

Why ‘great’ should be used with great caution

29 October 2022 9:00 am

Sir Keir Starmer told his party conference last month that a Labour government would within a year set up a…

What makes a ‘crisis’?

22 October 2022 9:00 am

In his picture from 1932, ‘Derrière la gare Saint-Lazare’, Henri Cartier-Bresson caught the moment when a man in a hat…

The problem with Liz Truss’s ‘growth, growth, growth’ slogan

15 October 2022 9:00 am

‘You’re easily pleased.’ said my husband when I told him how satisfying I found a chance discovery. It was about…

Why ‘pop’ is popping up everywhere

8 October 2022 9:00 am

The Guardian kindly tells us that green is a colour whose time has come: ‘A blazer or a cotton shirt…

What ‘Budget’ and ‘bilge’ have in common

1 October 2022 9:00 am

The Budget (which the revolutionary fiscal act last week was technically not) is directly connected with bilge and with one…

When did mourners stop crying and start ‘welling up’?

24 September 2022 9:00 am

‘We got a gusher!’ exclaimed my husband in his idea of the accent of a Texan oil prospector. Normally, I’m…

The chronic misuse of ‘dire’

17 September 2022 9:00 am

‘Dire?’ said my husband. ‘It’s something chronic.’ He was putting on his idea of an Estuary accent, in a manner…

The cereal ambiguity of ‘corn’

10 September 2022 9:00 am

‘Wha, wha?’ said my husband in a slack-jawed way, throwing over a copy of the Guardian, as though it was…

The changing language of ‘mental health’

3 September 2022 9:00 am

It is easy to laugh at young people asking for sympathy because ‘I’ve got mental health’. I think I heard…

Why everyone is ‘struggling’

27 August 2022 9:00 am

‘Quicksand!’ yelled my husband, flailing his arms wildly. Since he was sitting in his armchair, his dramatic representation of a…

No, Boris Johnson isn’t ‘missing in action’

20 August 2022 9:00 am

Someone in the Guardian wrote that Boris Johnson had his ‘out of office’ on, and the Chancellor was ‘missing in…

Will ‘hosepipe ban’ make it into the dictionary?

13 August 2022 9:00 am

‘Got any ’ose?’ asked my husband, falling into his Two Ronnies ‘Four Candles’ routine, in which he likes to play…

What do ‘catcalls’ have to do with cats?

6 August 2022 9:00 am

‘A law against catcalls?’ asked my husband sceptically. ‘What next, criminalising booing and hissing?’ He often gets the wrong end…

The etymological ingredients of ‘flageons’

30 July 2022 9:00 am

‘Don’t you know the answer?’ asked my husband with mock surprise, throwing over to me from his armchair a copy…

The ever-shifting language of ‘culture wars’

23 July 2022 9:00 am

‘Come on, old girl,’ said my husband as though encouraging a cow stuck in a ditch, ‘you must know.’ It…

‘Our’ by ‘our’, Boris’s resignation speech

16 July 2022 9:00 am

There was a word I didn’t understand in Boris Johnson’s resignation speech (in which he did not resign). He spoke…

‘Pinch’ has long packed a punch

9 July 2022 9:00 am

Before pinch as a verb appears in any written sources, it already formed part of surnames. Hugo Pinch was walking,…

Dominic Raab and the problem of ‘distraction’

2 July 2022 9:00 am

Dominic Raab blamed distraction forBoris Johnson’s woes when the Tories failed in two by-elections last week. ‘Hehas track records as…

Lord Geidt’s ‘odious’ remark

25 June 2022 9:00 am

Lord Geidt said in his resignationletter that he had been put in an odious position. He meant it was hateful,though…

Have we made a hash of rehash?

18 June 2022 9:00 am

My husband put one foot forward atan angle to the other and grasped his left hand with his right. ‘Occiditmiseros…

Why should Turkey be allowed to change its name?

11 June 2022 9:00 am

Turkey has told the UN it wants tobe called Türkiye. Even when it is written in capitals, it would still…

The not-so-sweet roots of ‘nice’

4 June 2022 9:00 am

‘That’s nice,’ said my husband, taking a Nice biscuit with his coffee. It was his little joke. The biscuit is…