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Words: plump, v.

THE FATE of the mayor who used the word niggardly shows how it is easy to offend Americans. And, in an East Village record store, I dithered over two hefty Miles Davis CD box-sets, and said, "I'll plump for that one" - not a verb to use in front of the dietetically-challenged cashier.

Right is on my side, albeit something espoused by Mrs Thatcher. Matters of girth aside, this sense is from Low German, plumpen, an onomatopoeic verb for something that falls directly into water. (The senses can merge: to plump cushions rectifies the effect of those who plumped into them.) By extension, to plump is to vote plump - directly for one candidate, no truck with transferable votes. The PR ap- proach to the Miles dilemma would have been to buy both sets, which makes sense.