Wednesday, 30 December 2009

13 Howlers from 2009

a cloud-clapped kingdom A cloud-capped kingdom would also be nonsensical – the cloud-capped towers (as Shakespeare wrote) are so tall they’re wearing clouds as hats.

a woman over 25 blithe to the rigours of botox Observer Nov 22 09 Blithe means happy. What are they trying to say? Innocent of botox? Why the “rigours of” botox?

ambient for atmospheric "What an ambient shot!" Ambient means surrounding. If you say something’s “atmospheric” you mean it calls up ideas and feelings of mystery or menace or the uncanny.

astronaughts for astronauts (Web)

caper for figure "cut a similarly impressive caper" Daily Telegraph Nov 09 To cut a caper is to perform a tricky and acrobatic dance step.

claque for clique David Aaronovitch Nov 09 A claque is a gang of hired applauders; a clique is a small, exclusive, self-interested group.

cut to the quick for cut to the chase Let us cut to the quick here. Times Oct 30 09 In early silent movies, you didn’t want to bore your audience, so you cut to the chase (car chase, cowboys on horseback etc). “Cut to the chase” means “come to the point”. If you cut someone to the quick it’s like cutting through the bark to the living tree (quick means “alive”).

pink elephant for elephant It’s not good to have a pink elephant in the room. Web The writer is confused between “the elephant in the room” that nobody mentions and “pink elephants” seen by sufferers from delirium tremens.

slipshod for roughshod It’s sad that they’re going to run slipshod over this lovely road. Person quoted in the Times Oct 27 09 If you ride roughshod over something, you’re trampling over them on a horse with heavy iron shoes. Somebody slipshod is wearing only backless slippers on their feet and is forced to shuffle about. A slipshod approach is sloppy and ill-thought-out.

slather for slaver “slather like kids in a sweetie shop” Times Sept 09 09 Beasts slaver over their prey (they have no manners); you slather paint onto a wall.

smited for slighted, dappy for daffy Andrew Billen, Times Nov 21 09

virtual circle for virtuous A virtual circle would be almost a circle; a virtuous circle is the opposite of a vicious circle, which is a feedback loop of bad consequences.
wolverine for wolfish "I just like to write about pervert killers with wolverine teeth". James Ellroy, Nov 09 A wolverine is a large weasel relative that lives in the Arctic Circle.

And more here, here, here, here and here.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Buzz Words for 2009 II

House sales have fallen off a cliff.

At the beginning of the year, people were keen on the word “constrained” to mean “confined” or “restricted” – or almost anything.

everything is
broken, not just society

swerve for avoid

uplift in value

hinterland was popular in April

boobs have become a rack

convulse is used to mean practically anything Rural communities are being convulsed by arguments for and against wind power. Guardian May 7, 2004 Are they really having fits over these arguments?

capacity building

Woot! (It means "want one of those")

People have stopped using major at last.

talking trash (This seems to mean making your opponent feel bad. How attractive is that?)


whippits = inhaling nitrous oxide

glurge = ghastly inspirational emails about alleged miracles happening to ordinary people

scrobble = assemble a playlist on a social music site

larp = playing a role-playing game in ordinary life (Live Action Role Playing)

astroturf – opposite of grassroots? Or is it cosmetic greenery?

huge – for big, vast, large, high, massive, enormous

decolletage for bust

workies for interns

modern day for modern or present day

Buzz Words of 2011 here and here.
Complete Buzz Words of 2010 here.
Buzz Words of 2009 here.
Buzz Words of 2009 Part Two here.

Whatever happened to....? 2

boil in the bag


of people who took “patent medicines” ie over-the-counter aspirin
Corocraft jewellery (now turning up on the Antiques Roadshow)
cream cakes


holographic keyboards projected on the desktop

lime marmalade

men smoking pipes – thank God they’ve gone
the new maths

panic about radiation emitted by "VDUs"
PDAs you had to poke with a stylus

recipes for something bake or medley
rollup keyboards sherbet pips Silver Shred

working remotely
(it was going to be called "telecottaging" or "telecommuting")
texter's thumb
wacky sandwich fillings like cream cheese and dates, apple and brie or banana and bacon

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Tips for London Visitors

1. Buy a London A-Z or go to an Internet café and look up your destination on London is BIG.

2. Ask for "where Lion King is playing" not the XYZ Theatre. Central London is full of theatres, and Londoners don't know all their names.

3. Dress appropriately to blend in. London's a working city, so that means soberly - no shorts, baseball caps, or matching safari outfits.

4. Avoid faux Irish pubs and hunt down a real traditional pub, like the Lemon Tree in Covent Garden and the Red Lion in Crown Passage between Pall Mall and King Street in Central London.

5. On the tube (that's the metro or underground rail system), obey signs on escalators (moving staircases) telling you to "stand on the right". The left "lane" is for people on the move.

6. Get off the tourist trail, away from the tacky, downmarket, overpriced food outlets (tepid pizza, greasy chicken). Turn down a side street and look for a little café.

7. Avoid souvenir shops which have been selling the same policeman dolls for 40 years - unless it's raining and you need an umbrella. Who cares if it says "I HEART LONDON"?

8. The best way to see London is from the top of a double decker. The topless tour buses will point out the sights for you, or you can just get on a double-decker bus and go upstairs. On a short trip you shouldn't get too lost!

9. River trips are also good. They'll give you useful information among the corny jokes.

10. That bridge with the towers is Tower Bridge, not London Bridge. The original London Bridge was built by the Romans, but the present one is less than 50 years old and not much to look at.

11. Enjoy! Londoners are friendly, and it's one of the most diverse cities in the world. Whether you want a steak and chips in Garfunkels or a Lebanese feast in Soho, there's a restaurant for you.