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Words: Coenobitic, adj.

ONE WONDERS what the great stylist Evelyn Waugh would have made of the prose style favoured by his biographer, a prolix academic Martin Stannard little blessed with humour. He might, however, have looked approvingly upon his penchant for cenobitic, which, from Latin and Greek, and generally spelled coenobitic, means to have the nature of a monastic community: distinct, that is, from the anchorite, who lives in solitude.

For all the caricatures of Waugh as some eccentric loner forever sloping off to the Taunton cinema, it is an important distinction: he throve upon selected company. Rather than regard him as a squire, a preposterous notion, one could revive the 18th-century variant, a coenobiarch - and practise rolling it off the tongue.