Words: solvent, n.

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NEVER HAS there been so pithy a evocation of contemporary Wales as the Voice Personal ad at the weekend in which a woman specified "only solvents please". Has she had embarrassing meals with Welshmen who prove short of lettuce? From the Latin for loosen, solve is both physical and metaphorical - the latter neatly defined by Johnson: "to clear; to explain; to untie an intellectual knot".

Solvent, as an adjective, is the ability to dissolve any debts. Although insolvent is a noun for the feckless, a solvent is something that newsagents do not sell to teenagers. The "tall, slim, attractive, professional, independent 33-year-old" Welshwoman revives a usage unique to Cobbett (1825): "Every insolvent blames a solvent, that will not lend him money."