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Words: otto, n.

SUCH IS the fascination of the events and narrative structure of the new Spanish movie Lovers of the Arctic Circle that the mind wanders only briefly to speculate about the name of one of these palindromic lovers: Otto (she is Ana).

As a name, it has various Teutonic forms akin to the Old English ead, meaning rich (hence the Goodie fellow's surname Oddie - nothing to do with his looks), but it is also a term to denote a four-stroke engine, invented by a 19th- century German, Nikolaus August Otto - a name rich in irony, for those petrol fumes are a far cry from otto: that is, a fragrant essence, generally something pleasant, in particular roses. It is a variant upon attar, from the Persian, but the OED cites otto first, by a margin of 160 years.