Are you ‘kwl’ or ‘cool’? Lucy Mangan looks at your word submissions from the last fortnight

News reaches me – via contributor kaiwaiipanda – that if you are under a certain age, you do not write “cool” in your texts. It is apparently only cool to write “kwl”.

I m old, fthr tm.

It is possible that they have sound reasons for this otherwise inexcusable behaviour, namely trying to avoid the “iHunch” (courtesy of contributor Tommy) – the stoop you develop from hunching over your phone for too many hours of your life. But I suspect not. So let us embark on our fortnightly celebration of new submissions to the Collins online dictionary with renewed zeal. We are clearly the last line of defence between total semantic and orthographic annihilation.

It is fitting, therefore, that two (new) contributors have contributed two words about words to our latest batch of goodies. WHamilton gives us “hypophora” – a figure of speech in a question is posed and (unlike the case of its rhetorical cousin) answered by the speaker – and WordWorkLesley supplies “caesura”, an intentional pause (usually halfway-ish) in a line of poetry that corresponds with what you’d do naturally in speech rather than according to metric rules to give the piece shape and rhythm. It’s the break after “To be or not to be”, for example, or between Pope’s assertions that while to err is human, to forgive is divine.

And let us grab our full complement of letters and revel in someone’s brainwave and tikitaka’s submission (possibly they are one and the same thing, in which case – double kudos, tikitaka!) “aibophobia” which means “fear of palindromes” and pleased me greatly.

Tikitaka also gives us “metagrobologist”, meaning someone who does, studies, collects or creates puzzles – maybe mechanical puzzles only, since this is what the online magazine for aficionados themetagrobologist.co.uk seems to concentrate on, but I cannot be sure. This seems like an area ripe for internecine warfare and nomenclatural splintering, with fans of Rubik’s Cube, devoted anagrammers and dedicated logic puzzlers all staking out their own territories – not realising that the cruciverbalists long ago staked out the moral high ground and have been looking down on them ever since.

And let us reach far back in time, when men were men, women were women, vowels were present and we had need of words such as “winnet”, contributed by davidtodd, who tells me that it is the name of a securing device on a ship’s pilot ladder. A ‘pilot ladder’ itself is a special form of rope ladder used on cargo ships, whose decks are usually so far above the waterline than a lowered ladder is generally the only way anyone can get aboard or disembark at sea.

Unfortunately, I am professionally bound to tell you that in the darker corners of the internet “winnet” is also regional British term for any bits of poo that adhere to the hairy bumhole of an even hairier mammal. Synonyms include “clagnuts”, “clinkers” and – my particular favourite – “shittles.” Put that in your smartphone and text it.

C u in 2 wks.

Other Articles

Words matter: thoughts on language and Black History Month

The work of historians is increasingly emphasising something that many in the Black community have known for a long time: the profound influence of Africa and the Caribbean on British culture. Last month, I began a PhD and my research is focused on mahogany in English country houses. Chippendale cabinets… Read More

Blah-blah-blah… 6 unusual words when you’re lost for words

The climate emergency continues to be an urgent challenge for the planet, with a whole wave of new words entering the dictionary to describe its impact and influence, from single-use and plogging to climate strike. Last week, Greta… Read More

Celebrate National Poetry Day

This year’s annual National Poetry Day, the thirty-eighth, falls on Thursday 7 October. National Poetry Day (NPD) was founded in 1994 by an arts charity – the Forward Arts Foundation – and has gone from strength to strength, boosting, inter alia, sales of poetry: the graph… Read More