Oxford £8.99 (159pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
What Made the Crocodile Cry?, By Susie Dent
Friday 08 January 2010
In last week's New Yorker, a long article on US pop group Vampire Weekend included a quote from their breakthrough song, "Oxford Comma" though the writer failed to say what this was.
For enlightenment, we can now turn to the latest work by Countdown lexicographer Susie Dent. The Oxford comma is inserted before "and" in a list: "superfluous, pedantic, and fussy".
Dent's lively canter round the more curious corners of English roams from contranyms (words with two contradictory meanings, like sanction meaning both approve and boycott). Discussing meretricious ("alluring by false show"), she mentions Gore Vidal's reply when Richard Adams used the word to describe his work: "Well, meretricious to you and a happy new year."
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Catwoman comes out as bisexual
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
Grace Dent on TV: Mary Portas: Secret Shopper delves into a grim cornucopia of retail wrongness
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts