Words: ripping, adj.

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The Independent Culture
ON A Brighton bus one teenager told another that her shoes were ripping. Modern footwear being what it is, one assumed that this was poor stitching; but, no, current argot has revived a 19th-century word deemed arch by the OED.

Meanwhile, the educationalist Alec Greville-Sims reports hearing some male pupils describe a girl as horny. How did they know, he wondered, until learning that nowadays horny can mean to provoke horniness. He was heartened, however, that his shirt was thought groovy - but, no, that now means stuck in a groove.

Not in any dictionary is a word remembered by the essayist Joseph Epstein from his youth, when, evocatively, acne was called tweed. Any pupil who gets this in circulation can be let off homework for a week.

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