Words: raft, n.

POLITICIANS DESCRIBE a motley assortment of ideas in a way that purports to suggest that real thought lies behind them. Over the years, we have heard of "a range of proposals", a "package" of them, and now the term is a "raft".

This might sound worringly like something from the Medusa or Titanic but is in fact American slang - it appears in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - linked to our 17th-century "raff of errors and superstitions", perhaps from the French for sweeping together, and surviving in Yorkshire dialect. There is a link with riff-raff.

Meanwhile, over in America, Dr Joel Berger and his wife recently donned an unconvincing moose outfit to track the animal and found "a suite of behaviours".

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