Words: churchyard, adj.

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The Independent Online
JOHN BUCHAN'S output yields 427 OED citations. Small beer beside 1,350 from Ulysses, but he, too, had a dextrous way with language, for which he has only recently won credit. This account of the valet to the ill-fated Scudder is worthy of Waugh: "he was a whining fellow with a churchyard face, and half-a-crown went far to console him". More than sullen, churchyard concisely suggests stubble, pockmarks and wrinkles, and was first used as a metaphorical adjective in the 17th century, as in the doom-laden churchyard cough.

Keats wrote of "a poor weak, palsy-stricken, churchyard thing", but the OED has it petering out around 1880. Buchan's 1915 instance should spur a revival - a change from the usual tag of dour for Robin Cook and Lee Evans.

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