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Words: mucilaginous, adj.

IN A gettable quiz one would not posit a link between the author of Urne-Buriall and such movies as Blood Simple and Fargo. Ethan Coen, their co-director, has now published a volume of stories, its Dylanesque title Gates of Eden. Some are good, and all show a penchant for words that would be swiftly slung out at a script conference. Even the toniest multiplex must contain many ears puzzled by mucilaginous.

It was first used by Sir Thomas Browne in Pseudodoxica Epidemica (1646) to mean slimy, and the OED's last instance is an 1884 volume about diseases of the nose and throat. Coen, however, uses it adroitly of a plate of beef stroganoff. Perhaps, at lunchtime today, more promising pupils will use it to test their teachers in school canteens.