Language

Although its use goes back 500 years, we could do with less ‘wow!’ factor

30 July 2016 9:00 am

Veronica has become quite an addict of Twitter, just as the rest of the young are forsaking it. ‘It’s easy…

Words the Oxford English Dictionary struggles to define

23 July 2016 9:00 am

What is a bee? ‘A well-known insect,’ says the Oxford English Dictionary, passing the buck rather. Similarly, an ash is…

Do you know the meaning of Burchfield’s eight hard words?

25 June 2016 8:00 am

I was humiliated in trying to make out the meaning of eight hard words. See how you do: claustration, edulcoration,…

Tuscany farmhouse,morning, frost, winter, mist,Italy.

Addlands: where the new nature writing meets the novel

18 June 2016 9:00 am

There have been a number of attempts to graft the style of the so-called new nature writing onto the novel:…

Harry Tate

The surprising history of ‘How’s your father’

11 June 2016 9:00 am

‘Very funny, I don’t think,’ said my husband when I mentioned Harry Tate, although Tate died in 1940 and even…

darkside

Word of the week: 'concept'

28 May 2016 9:00 am

‘It was nothing special, but it was a pub,’ said my husband, looking up from his copy of Bar magazine…

Are exclamation marks still vulgar? Yes!

21 May 2016 9:00 am

‘Like eating in the street,’ said my husband. Astonishing! He’d said something not only coherent in itself but also connected…

The true meaning of Sadiq Khan’s claims to virtue

14 May 2016 9:00 am

The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he wanted ‘the most transparent, honest and accessible administration London has ever…

The dirty jokes that tell us how Shakespeare spoke

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Sir John Harington told a story in 1596 about a lady at court asking her gentlewoman to inquire which Mr…

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the shifting meaning of ‘illegitimate’

16 April 2016 9:00 am

‘The Archbishop of Canterbury has discovered he is the illegitimate son of Sir Winston Churchill’s last private secretary,’ Charles Moore…

(Photo: Getty)

Mind your language: From body fluids to ‘gender fluid’

2 April 2016 9:00 am

Benjamin Franklin thought that an excess of electric fluid gave rise to positive electricity, and a deficiency of the fluid…

Britain to have ‘special status’ in the EU? Careful what you wish for…

27 February 2016 9:00 am

‘Special status?’ said my husband. ‘You mean like executioners, butchers and undertakers in Japan?’ I hadn’t suggested that, but had…

Does creaky voice make you a female yuppie – or an updated Vicki Pollard?

20 February 2016 9:00 am

My husband, not surprisingly, finds it extremely annoying. It, in this instance, is the use by women of creaky voice.…

Beware of misusing ‘be aware’

13 February 2016 9:00 am

My husband pointed with his stick, which he carries not to steady himself but to cudgel pedestrians out of his…

2014 LACMA Art + Film Gala Honoring Barbara Kruger And Quentin Tarantino Presented By Gucci - Red Carpet

How ‘Not even a thing’ became a thing

6 February 2016 9:00 am

Last summer Kim Kardashian, who already had a daughter called North (surname West), announced that she was expecting a boy.…

Are we at peak ‘peak’ yet?

30 January 2016 9:00 am

Near Victoria Station in London they began to build a tower-block advertised as ‘The Peak’. I expected it to resemble…

The words The Spectator gave the world

9 January 2016 9:00 am

When the much missed Frank Johnson (1943–2006), once editor of The Spectator, wrote in 1980 that ‘the peculiar need for…

Mind your language . . . on commit

5 December 2015 9:00 am

My husband struck out with his stick at an advertisement in the street that said: ‘Commit to winter.’ He doesn’t…

(Photo: Getty)

Worry less about what to call Isis, and more about how to fight them

28 November 2015 9:00 am

We should worry less about what to call Isis, and more about how to fight them

(Photo: Getty)

The rise of the man bun, the Mancan and man boobs

28 November 2015 9:00 am

‘Ha, ha, ha,’ said my husband, as though he had learnt to laugh by reading Twitter. ‘Now they’ve got falsies.’ He…

Is ‘female’ still an insult?

14 November 2015 9:00 am

‘More deadly than the male,’ said my husband archly. He was knowingly quoting Kipling, though I don’t know why he…

How we ended up ‘cisgender’

7 November 2015 9:00 am

‘That’s not how you spell “system”,’ said my husband triumphantly, pointing with his whisky glass at a placard inveighing against…

HiRes

Barry Humphries’s diary: My war with ‘Wow!’

29 October 2015 9:00 am

I’m counting ‘Wows!’ Suddenly everyone is using this irritating expletive expressing incredulity, amazement and nothing at all. I’ve heard it…

Should we just stop using ‘fulsome’?

29 October 2015 9:00 am

It’s funny that two much misused words end in —some: fulsome and noisome. Noisome is the less often used at…

virtue

I invented ‘virtue signalling’. Now it’s taking over the world

10 October 2015 9:00 am

I invented the term ‘virtue signalling’ in The Spectator. Now it seems to be taking over the world