Well driven? Only phone if the driver is all over the road

The fact that `le car' actually means `the bus' in French doesn't worry English ad `creatives'
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The Independent Culture
TODAY WE bring you another instalment in our ongoing glossary of the Nineties, listing words and phrases that have acquired new meanings in this glittering decade.

Access: Once this was a noun meaning entry. Then it became the name of a credit card. Now it is a verb meaning "to go in", as "source" has become a verb meaning "to get out". So nowadays instead of saying: "I think I'll go into the cellar and get out a bottle of wine," you say "I think I'll access the cellar and source some wine."

Arts: New word for "skills". We tend to talk less about "circus skills", more about "circus arts".

Centre: A centre is a place on the outskirts of a town or in the middle of nowhere, usually devoted to leisure, health or arts.

CEO (chief executive officer): A man in charge of a company who is so insecure that he has to have three words in his title, all meaning roughly the same thing. Conference centre: A hotel that's found a use for a neglected ballroom or dining-hall - at last.

Convenience food: A kind of pre-cooked food suitable for throwing into the nearest convenience.

Core values: a meaningless phrase that is often found in "mission statements" (qv).

Creative: Name given to the department of a company where the truth is taken and bent until it fits company policy.

Culture: Name given to conversation in the canteen, as in "the culture of football is basically laddish" or "the police force is governed by a culture of cheating". "Culture" used to refer to acquired wisdom, and now means the opposite.

Cf philosophy, which used to mean the search for truth, and now means a footballing strategy, as in: "My philosophy has always been to score goals, entertain and get a knighthood."

Digital: Adjective of "foxglove".

Discount: A financial privilege offered by manufacturers to supermarkets, who don't need it, but not to small shops, who do. Dumbing down: Believing that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? represents a high point in the evolution of television.

Elitism: Not owning a TV set.

To engage with: Not to be disgusted by.

Face-painting: Only new folk art of the 20th century. If face-painting takes place in the vicinity of a bouncy castle, it is then called a school fayre.

Fayre: Word used by people who would normally call it a "fete", but can't remember where the accent goes on "fete".

Feng shui: Ancient Chinese art of locating the wallet of the gullible and removing money.

Flawed: Word used by book reviewers either of a bad book by someone they like, or a good book by someone they hate.

Jurassic: Meaning, as old as the rocks in Colorado's Jura mountains. It is never used in this sense. In fact, it is never used in any sense. It is just used.

Le: A French word which advertisers think can be added to any English word to make it seem French - le crunch, le shuttle, le car etc. The fact that "le car" actually means "the bus" in French is not the sort of thing that is likely to worry an English advertiser.

Obverse: Means the opposite of "reverse". Heads is obverse, tails is reverse. Nevertheless, more and more people are using "obverse" to mean "reverse". So much for education.

New: Word meaning "old-fashioned", as in New Man, New Romantics, New Age etc. Mission statement: Manifesto that's meaningless; the phrase "core values" occurs a lot in it.

Partner: A fellow doubles tennis player to whom one does not have to be married.

Polygonous: A new word that was invented by the Radio Times last week to mean "having several spouses", as in "polygonously married".

Saturation bombing: A technique used by the Americans to ensure that they hit the enemy as well as their own troops.

Shuttle: Any vehicle going regularly from any point in the known world to any other point is nowadays called a shuttle.

Synergy: A vague feeling of optimism that if everything works, failure may be averted.

Well driven? Often on the backs of lorries and vans these days, one sees a sign saying: "Well Driven? Phone 01249..." They don't want you to phone up if the vehicle is well driven, only if the driver is drunkenly going down the wrong side of a motorway. Thus, "well driven" in fact means "badly driven".

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