Synonyms to call one's own

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The word "dictatorial" has been Blaired around a good deal this week, indeed so much that the Labour leader's associations with the word have overtaken those of the iron lady herself. Of the 852 instances of the word "dictatorial" on our database, there are now 73 associated with "Blair", 58 with "Thatcher and only 23 with "Saddam". But will Tony Blair succeed in capturing the word for himself in the way that "doe-eyed", for example, immediately evokes one particular name, or, a few years ago, "fragrant" needed no more identification?

In order to claim a particular phrase for one's own, one should be required to capture a certain percentage of all its usages. So let's see how some phrases and their main users fare. The table below indicates the number of appearances of given words or phrases in the database, and the number where the phrase occurs in the same article as the indicated name or names.

big ears 338

big ears & Noddy 165

big ears & Charles 46

bruiser 630

bruiser & Clarke 99

bruiser & Prescott 44

crybaby 79

crybaby & Gascoigne 8

cuckold 223

cuckold & Parker Bowles 37

doe-eyed 259

doe-eyed & princess 47

fragrant 1,737

fragrant & Archer 89

incandescent with rage 135

incandescent with rage

& Major 33

toe-sucking 457

toe-sucking & Fergie 228

toe-sucking & Mellor 121

toe-sucking & Fergie

& Mellor 14

waif-like 345

waif-like & Kate Moss 83

Thus of the 630 instances of the word "bruiser", 99 occur in connection with Kenneth Clarke and 44 with John Prescott. In other words, Kenneth Clarke has a bruising 15.8 per cent of the bruiser market compared with Mr Prescott's 7.0 per cent.

Mary Archer, once the very personification of fragrance, now claims only 5.1 per cent (but our database only goes back to 1993). Similar calculations enable us to arrive at a definitive top 10 based on percentages (we exclude Noddy, who is only in the original list through association):

1. toe-sucking Fergie 49.9

2. toe-sucking Mellor 26.4

3. incandescent with rage

Major 24.4

4. waif-like Kate Moss 24.1

5. doe-eyed princess 18.1

6. cuckold Parker Bowles 16.6

7. bruiser Clarke 15.7

8. big ears Charles 13.6

9. crybaby Gascoigne 10.1

10. dictatorial Blair 8.6

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