Words: formication, n.

NOT A misprint but a remark in Kyril Bonfiglioli's posthumous novel The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery (1999). Malt whisky is rich in rare minerals, congeners and esters good for the brain. "I became aware of a prickling, formicating kind of sensation inside my skull."

Perhaps some indeed find that sex - good or bad - brings a sensation of ants crawling over the skin. From the Latin, formica, for ant, it gained currency in the 17th century (Livingstone later had a bad night owing to "the attack by the fighting battalions of a small species of formica"). But the Twenties coining of Formica as a work surface was ill-informed. "We've got Formica in the kitchen" sounds a matter for the health inspector - akin to the Nova motor-car which, in Spanish, means "won't go".