Etymology

The Spanish village that thought it was called ‘Kill Jews’

11 July 2015 9:00 am

A village has changed its name because it seemed offensive. But I think the villagers were under a misapprehension. The…

Trigger warning: this is an article about the word ‘trigger’

13 June 2015 9:00 am

A notion is going about that, just as readers of film reviews receive spoiler alerts, so readers of anything should…

Should ‘suicide’ mean pig-killing?

8 November 2014 9:00 am

There was a marvellous man in Shakespeare’s day known as John Smyth the Sebaptist. ‘In an act so deeply shocking…

How Ebola got its name

25 October 2014 9:00 am

It should perhaps be called Yambuku fever, since that was the village in Zaire (as it was then, now the…

The fascinating history of dullness

11 October 2014 9:00 am

At least I’ve got my husband’s Christmas present sorted out: the Dull Men of Great Britain calendar. It is no…

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…

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…

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…

Dot Wordsworth: Is M&S really 'Magic & Sparkle'?

16 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Believe in Magic & Sparkle,’ says the Marks & Spencer television Christmas advertisement. The phrase is meant to suggest the…