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Words: hex, n. and v.

WHEN ENERGIES flag, far better than caffeine is a burst of Anthony Burgess's essays or memoirs. His energy!

It was the matter of a moment for him to recall Shirley Jackson's success in sticking a pin into an effigy of her publisher, Alfred Knopf, who promptly broke a leg while skiing. "There are others in that great house who could have done with the hex," said Burgess.

Mainly American, the word was first used, as a verb, in the 1830s for putting a curse on somebody - this came from German and Yiddish. It became a noun two decades later, first meaning a witch, and then, in this century, a curse. If there were signs that it was fading, it has resurfaced as hexed, applied to somebody possessed by the World Wide Web.