Majorism has roots in Europe

MAJORISM, the Prime Minister will be pleased to hear, has its linguistic roots in Europe, writes David Lister.

Of readers' definitions of the word, shortly to appear in the dictionary, one of the most damning comes from Bruce Jerram, south London, who cites the 1933 Oxford English Dictionary to show that John Major cannot claim to have bequeathed the word. It already exists, derived from the teachings of a 16th-century German:

'Majorism. (f. Major plus ism. Opinions held by George Major (1502-74), a German Protestant, who maintained that good works are necessary for salvation. 1857 Pusey Doctr. Real Presence (1869): At the conference of Worms AD 1577 Flacius wrote to Christiern King of Denmark: 'another maintains Majorism on the necessity of works to salvation'.'

Using this as his model, Mr Jerram offers two definitions of the contemporary phenomenon. 1. 'Majorism. The opinions held by John Major (1943 - ), an English Pragmatist, who maintained that suffering is necessary for economic salvation. 1991 Major J. Interv. Mass Med. 'If it isn't hurting it isn't working'.'

2. Majorism. (f adj. Lat. major (magus/master) equals great plus sb Lat. risum equals laugh). A minor 'ism' endorsing the principle of power through transparency after John Major kept office in spite of everything. 1992 Lamont N. Interv. Black. Wed. 'This is force majeur.'

READERS are invited to devise a better definition of 'Majorism ' than the Oxford dictionary has offered. The best answer, in no more than 20 words, will win a weekend for two in Maastricht. Entries may be sent on a postcard or by fax; they should be marked 'MAJORISM'. Postcards to The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Faxes to 071-956 1435. Entries should arrive by 1 September.

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