Mind your language

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…

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…

Whipsmart: a new cliché that’s beginning to smart

24 October 2015 9:00 am

A friend of my husband’s asked me to explain why the usually impeccable critic Francine Stock had recently used the…

Can politicians say ‘crusade’ again? David Cameron thinks so

17 October 2015 8:00 am

One thing grabbed my attention from David Cameron’s speech, long ago in the middle of last week. ‘We need a…

The weird truth about the word ‘normal’

10 October 2015 9:00 am

‘Is Nicky Morgan too “normal” to be the next prime minister?’ asked someone in the Daily Telegraph. That would make…

I was wrong to criticise using ‘critique’ as a verb

3 October 2015 8:00 am

I lost my husband on the way from Malabar. He is easily lost. We had been talking about the verb…

The remarkable discovery of Roger Fuckebythenavele

26 September 2015 8:00 am

A great discovery has been made by Dr Paul Booth, a fellow of Keele University. It is a 14th-century example…

A lesson in graceful Twitter style – from a resigning shadow minister

19 September 2015 8:00 am

‘Tweeting’s like text messaging, isn’t it?’ said my husband confidently, though not, as usual, from any knowledge of the matter.…

Why would Jeremy Corbyn want to be credible when he can be incredible?

12 September 2015 9:00 am

In a wonderfully dry manual of theology on my husband’s bookshelves, written in Latin and printed in Naples in the…

Think ‘migrant’ is an insult? ‘Refugee’ can be too

5 September 2015 9:00 am

Al Jazeera, the Qatari broadcaster, is going to use refugee instead of migrant in its English output. ‘The umbrella term…

Saints still beat Game of Thrones for baby-naming – but maybe not Mohammed

29 August 2015 9:00 am

We reached peak Charlie in 2012, when 5,571 baby boys were given the name. There were only 4,642 last year.…

‘Asexual’ used to mean something even creepier than ‘Edward Heath’

22 August 2015 9:00 am

There was a time when my husband, who often addresses the television, would habitually react to Edward Heath’s appearance on…

Why Liz Kendall isn't close to qualifying as 'Taliban New Labour'

15 August 2015 9:00 am

Toxic virus or Taleban: it’s funny how the mild-mannered Liz Kendall has attracted for her Blairite associations the most violently…

Where ‘big ask’ came from, and why it still sounds barbaric

8 August 2015 9:00 am

‘That’s unnecessarily crude,’ said my husband, turning momentarily from the television and improving the shining minute by setting the whisky…

Why I hate ‘I love that…’

1 August 2015 9:00 am

I had never heard the Country (Red Dirt) singer Wade Bowen before, although his latest album Hold my Beer (Vol 1)…

Pluto’s moon Charon is secretly a Charlene

25 July 2015 9:00 am

‘What about the moon Tracey?’ asked my husband facetiously when an astronomer on the wireless, talking of Pluto’s moon Charon,…

Mind your language: Bugs, bugs, bugs

18 July 2015 9:00 am

If my husband were an insect it might well be a bug — a squat creature imbibing nutriment in liquid form.…

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…

How a prayer became business speak

4 July 2015 9:00 am

No doubt you, too, have had the feeling, upon glancing at an article in a paper picked up in a…

On the cusp: a cliche with a hidden astrological side

27 June 2015 9:00 am

‘A stalker who dressed a pillow “mannequin” in his ex’s nurse’s uniform, then sent her a picture, has been told…

What kind of life-form boasts that it can ‘speak human’?

20 June 2015 9:00 am

The next Labour leader will have to be able to speak human, said a piece in the Observer. This, it…

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…

The rise and rise of the brain fade

6 June 2015 9:00 am

‘Aa-aah,’ groaned my husband, ‘we fade to grey.’ He had never been much of a Young Romantic, even when Visage…

The real contest at Eurovision: worst lyric

30 May 2015 9:00 am

Like a reluctantly remembered nightmare, last week’s Eurovision Song Contest already seems very distant. But, in the manner of the…

Mind your language: Heritage this and heritage that

23 May 2015 9:00 am

Benidorm has applied for World Heritage status. To achieve this, says Unesco, a site must have ‘outstanding universal value’ in…