Arts and Entertainment

'One of its most notable contributors was in Broadmoor'

Say it with flowers: A new book revives the Victorian trend for bestowing meanings on our blooms

We may take our blooms as we see – or smell – them, but the Victorians devoted whole dictionaries to revealing their secret meanings.

The Blagger's Guide To...Samuel Johnson

Ten pages of quotes, but none about oranges

DJ Taylor: Class war, Chav-aliers and Roundheads

Generalisations about society no longer work, boundaries are blurred on morals too, and what about A C Grayling's hair?

Myspace is the thang, innit? Yes, if you want to win at Scrabble

Myspace, on a triple word score would bag you 98 points, perhaps even enough to win a game in a single turn, and, as of now, it is also legal.

Ian Hamilton Finlay, Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Poetry and philosophy are etched into the mind by the dour head gardener of the avant-garde

A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson, Dr Johnson's House, London

For this particular stop on its nation-wide tour, A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson – an evening of pure, civilised delight, directed by Max Stafford-Clark for his Out of Joint Company – becomes seriously site-specific. The audience is seated up in the attic of the beautiful Georgian house in Gough Square (off Fleet Street) where the great man of letters lived while compiling his monumental Dictionary.

The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel, By David Levithan<br />Kama Sutra, By Vatsyayana, trans. AND Haksar<br />The Art of Love by Ovid, trans. Tom Payne

Last week I chaired an event at the French Institute during which Alain de Botton talked, with all his graceful erudition, about Stendhal's treatise On Love. For de Botton, that hopeless old romantic's wander through passion's rare peaks and frequent troughs adds up to a sort of autobiographical novel rather than a systematic theory of desire and disappointment. Lytton Strachey, he reminded us, thought that Stendhal combined the emotionalism of a 12-year-old girl with the rigour of a high-court judge. It's the quasi-legalistic side of his approach to amour that sometimes comes to the fore in the arch recipes and formulae of On Love.

The Dictionary of Media and Communications, By Daniel Chandler &amp; Rod Munday

This book is a useful corrective to the assumption that media studies is an easy option. The entry on "relevance theory" informs us it is "a theory of pragmatics based on the principle... it is a necessary condition for communication that all utterances are presumed to be related to contextual assumptions."

Internet social sites 'encourage wrong spelling'

Internet chatrooms and social networking sites are encouraging children to spell words incorrectly, new research suggests.

My Afternoons With Margueritte (15)

Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus

Could you make an eight-letter word out of F I D E T C A S H?

This year's 'Countdown' star did &ndash; and gave the show a conundrum

'Obeisant' spells Scrabble triumph for transsexual

Casual players of Scrabble, take heart. Even in yesterday’s final of the national championships, the two opponents were unafraid to adorn the board with words more usually suited to the playground.

Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins, Edited by Julia Cresswell

The words we use everyday are so familiar that they almost seem natural phenomena like grass and rocks. Of course, they were man-made. Packed with pithy explanations of their often distant and unlikely origins, this book is as engrossing (from the Latin grossus meaning large, which also gave us grocer, originally someone who sold things in large quantities) as it is enlightening. Take sabotage. It sounds vaguely French, especially in the personalised form of saboteur, but did you know that it derives from sabot, French for clog? It comes from the destruction of machinery by clog-wearing workers in the 19th century.

Book Of A Lifetime: Oxford English Dictionary

I wonder if I could cheat and go for a genre rather than an individual book? Maybe the literary editor will be too busy to notice. It has to be a dictionary: any dictionary. From as early as I can remember, I've been fascinated by dictionaries. All those senses. All those words. And in alpha order too. Oh, the holy joy of it! [Ed: I've noticed.]

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Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture