Words: Fire-new, adj.

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The Independent Culture
ABSENT FROM all those round-ups of books of the year was Anthony Burgess's hefty, posthumous, instantly companionable volume of essays One Man's Chorus. Among them is a piece about a set - "fire-new from the printer" - of the second edition of the OED, a phrase therein recorded as last being used by Browning in 1842. It also figures in Richard III.

Oddly, this baking term has fallen from use while brand-new survives, even though branding-irons are less familiar to most of us than toast and croissants. As for spanking new, the origins are unclear, possibly an echo of the Danish spanke, to strut, while span new goes back to the 14th century, a shortening of the Old Norse for new chip. A digression to warm the great Burgess's shade.

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