The top ten: Words that ought to be used more often
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 28 July 2013
One of my friends has a habit of announcing, out of the blue, his word of the day. Once it was poltroon. This prompted me to think of all those words that ought to be rescued from the penumbra of obscurity. After all, I spend so much of my time railing against cliché, surely I ought to offer up some words that are not familiar enough.
1. Stramash Scots: uproar. Nominated by Nathan Goode.
2. Seldom GM Allard. Long-declining, especially since 1950. Feels similar to "splendid", nominated by Rick Toomer, although that declined most sharply after 1920.
3. Inchoate Graham Kenyon.
4. Badinage Nominated by "Bolly Knickers", which is a form of it, I suppose.
5. Insouciance Thanks to Fiona Richmond.
6. Putative A surprisingly new word, becoming popular in the 1970s, according to Google.From Terry Kirby.
7. Thrice Via Craig Nicholson and Ellen. It must be the sound, because "trice" was also nominated (by Amy Gray).
8. Boondoggle "An unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulent project." Also a verb. Nominated by Tim Oliver and Stian Westlake.
9. Mellifluous From the Latin for honey and flow. "It's so onomatopoeic," says Jessica Elgot.
10. Peripatetic With thanks to Niall Paterson.
Next week: Political heckles.
Coming soon: Unsung villains: historical figures who don't get nearly as bad a press as they should. Send your suggestions (by Tuesday 6 August), and ideas for future Top 10s, to email@example.com
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