Words

IF ONE were in the business of setting competitions, it would be corking to ask for plausible sentences in which - no oversight - every word meant its opposite. Quite plausible sentences. Handy would be pristine, which can be used of, say, an excavated pot or one from B & Q.

From the Latin for original or early, it was also spelt pristinate or pristinary, first used by Sir Thomas Elyot in that elegant manual The Boke Named The Governour (1531): "the pristinate authoritie and majestie of a kyng". Anne Boleyn used it three years later, and was soon a victim of such authoritie.

By extension, this was - in America this century - made to refer to objects as well as conditions and, by the Fifties, it had corrupted into the sense of factory-fresh.

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