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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Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
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Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn