Language Lovers

Furlough: a military word on civvy street

Furlough has featured heavily in UK media recently. So much so, that on BBC Radio 4’s Money Box on 28 March, an expert commented: “…this word ‘furlough’ that we’ve…none of us have ever used before and we’re now using repeatedly…” And here’s the UK Chancellor: “Employers will… Read More

Happiness is…

What is happiness? Answers vary according to which religion or creed you cleave to. For an Epicurean it might be ataraxia, a state of supreme calmness. For Stoics, it might be virtue. For Miss Crawford in Mansfield Park,… Read More

Green is Good

Over the last few years, the language of increasing global temperatures has been — well, heating up. In the early years of the 21st century, a group of Republican political advisers in the US recommended using the term “climate change” because it sounded less frightening than “… Read More

Of pandemics and epidemics

The World Health Organization has just used the word ‘pandemic’ to describe the spread of the coronavirus across the globe, prompting a spike in searches for the word on the Collins Dictionary website. The dictionary definition of a pandemic is ‘an… Read More

What is #love anyway?

Every year on the fourteenth of February the world celebrates the idea of love. If you look up ‘love’ in Collins English Dictionary, you will find the word defined as ‘an intense emotion of affection, warmth, fondness, and regard towards a person or thing’. But love also… Read More

Are Brexiety and flextensions finally behind us?

As the clock struck 11pm on 31 January 2020, Brexit became a reality and Brexiteers (supporters or architects of the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union) held celebratory parties across the UK. Remainers gathered too, brandishing placards mourning Britain’s departure and reaffirming their… Read More

What put the corona in the coronavirus?

If you had never heard of a coronavirus before this year, you certainly will have now. As alarm increases about the spread of a new strain of this virus around the world, some people have been wondering about the significance of the word ‘… Read More

How the Truth Got Cancelled

For many observers, the 2010s were the decade of fake news. In 2016, Donald Trump appeared to use the word ‘bigly’, which soon caught on as a humorously intensifying adverb, even though it turned out that Trump himself had actually said ‘big league’. And ‘bigly’ itself is attested as an… Read More