Words: Square, n. and adj.

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The Independent Culture
DUKE ELLINGTON, who would have been 100 today, fitted over a century's work into 75 years. A passion for wordplay animates "Blutopia" and "Clusterphobia" - and check out his preamble to The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse.

Of his Shakespeare suite Such Sweet Thunder, he noted, "Nobody knows what a square is - it's just that nobody wants to be one". From the Latin quadra, it has turned many a circle. Duke's sense re-emerged in the Forties, probably (not mentioned by the OED) from the conducting gesture for a regular, four-beat rhythm - as in the old proverb about not being a man to break a square and Ben Jonson's "all their square pretext of gravity / A mere vain glory". Meanwhile, Ellington's "Subtle Slough" should become the town's anthem.