Leigh & Woodhouse: Mark my words

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The Independent Online

Accredited "Simply select from our list of accredited hospitals"; "the resort offers delegates a choice of accredited hotels". In these contexts, the qualifier accredited tends to indicate little more than a very limited range of choice.

Black hole Alistair Darling has located a black hole in Conservative spending plans (he used exactly the same wording for similar discoveries made during the 2001 and 2005 election campaigns). All the Chancellor means is that the figures may not quite add up, but he naturally gravitates to a term which is, in more than one way, astronomical.

Camelot obsession Chris Huhne's depiction of Menzies Campbell as "the victim of a Camelot obsession" has been interpreted as a thinly veiled attack on Nick Clegg (veils in these cases are invariably thin). This allusion to the "court" of President Kennedy was possibly too archaic for some young Lib Dems, who could be excused for thinking their leader had resigned because of a scratchcard addiction.

Equation "With Mallett and Jones out of the equation, the Welsh Rugby Union has begun the process of drawing up a shortlist of candidates to replace Jenkins". The phrase usually crops up in places where there is scant evidence of any mathematical calculation.

Good-natured "Both sides were enjoying good-natured rivalry in bars across Paris." Reporters soaking up the atmosphere before a big game of rugby always head for watering holes where armies of rival supporters will be seen indulging in good-natured banter. The picture is designed to contrast with the shameful scenes that can mar football, even if they are, of course, the actions of a tiny minority.

Messy "It is evident that the Mills-McCartney divorce has become increasingly messy." Unless it can possibly be described as amicable, a divorce will always be characterised as messy. As well as indicating legal and emotional convolutions, the adjective is neatly suggestive of dirty washing and slung mud.

Out of our hands "It is out of our hands, but it is not over." Even if Steve McClaren's phrase would seem better suited to rugby players, it is obligatory in football parlance as soon as a team's fortunes depend on someone doing them a favour. No less predictable, if paradoxical, was McClaren's insistence that he was not even thinking about quitting.