The scratch and sniff lexicon

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The Independent Online

A new phrase has recently entered the English language: "chip'n'pin".

A new phrase has recently entered the English language: "chip'n'pin".

It's all about defeating card fraud.

The chip is on your debit card; the pin number is in your brain. You give the debit card to the salesperson, and you key in its pin number, or PIN number, if you like capitals, so that nobody but you can see what you are doing (except of course the salesperson, who has stationed a large mirror behind you and is watching your every digit, but that's another story).

What interests me in this is that although it is such a new procedure, the name for it follows a very old English formula. "Chip'n'pin" sounds familiar already because it joins all those other near-rhyming partnerships like "pick'n' mix", "rock'n'roll", "belt and braces", "bibs and bobs", and so on, which regularly enter the language as apprentice duos and quickly became as established a pairing as "Morecambe and Wise" or "Marks & Spencer".

For those among you who are studying English as a second language, or who already speak it as a first language but without much confidence, here is a check-list of some of the other important dual phrases in English, with their up-to-date meaning.

Pitch and toss Elementary game played by cross-Channel ferries, in which the object is to make the passengers feel so sick they wish they'd never embarked, or at least that they's never eaten all that food.

Pitch and putt Materials used by 18th-century sailors to seal joints in leaking ship's timbers.

Nip and tuck Slang for "food and drink". "Tuck" is an old word for "food", while "nip" is slang for a small drink.

Spin and rinse. Scornful description of the way in which politicians are prepared for public consumption. First, the spin, in which their cover story is prepared. Then the rinse, in which the public buys the cover story. It does not always work. David Blunkett was spun but not rinsed.

Mix and match Gloomy reflection of the way life never really pans out. If you mix things, you can't match them, and vice versa.

Butt and Ben Flowerpot men (Scotland only).

Hit and run Either a kind of traffic accident or a variant of cricket.

Spick and span Comic Scandinavian duo.

Pots and pans As in the nursery rhyme, "Pots and pans/ May ruin my flans/ So, what the hell, let's pop out and get a pre-cooked flan from the supermarket and put it in the oven when we get back."

Chalk and cheese Proverbial way of describing two things that are almost indistinguishable, as in: "I think we should take this Vignotte back to the cheese shop. Eating it is like munching your way through the South Downs."

Bob and weave Two different kinds of toupées favoured by gentlemen in showbusiness.

Pittenweem Two small mining villages in Scotland.

Chippendale Naked furniture.

Surf and turf A cricket ground under water.

Scratch'n'sniff Unpleasant personal habits.

Ducking and diving Just two of the many activities banned in British swimming pools ...

Chop and change Henry VIII's marital policy.

Bowing and scraping The art of Nigel Kennedy

Trick or treat Term used in bridge about card played by your partner, which might either win the trick or be so laughably ill-judged as to be enjoyable in its own right.

Boom and bust Spending all your budget on armaments.

Send SAE and blank cheque for full list - "wax and wane", "drink and drive", "Bang and Olufsen", etc etc