Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.



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.