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Q. What are they A. An antiautonym is one of a pair of words which mean the same thing, although one word looks as if it should be the opposite of the other. A. As distinct from A. An01:00 Thu 21st Feb 2002

Talking turkey (or are we )

Q. So, the turkey. What's the mystery A. To answer your question with a question, where, given the name, do you think turkeys might have originated Q. Turkey A. Wrong. Q. Obviously. Somewhere01:00 Fri 15th Feb 2002


Q. A. Also spelled Han'gul, Hankul (Great Script) is the indigenous alphabet of the Korean Peninsula. (For you completists out there it's also called Onmun, or Vernacular Script.) Q. But aren't01:00 Fri 15th Feb 2002

Anglo-Indian: Indian words in English

Q. What, like naan and chicken tikka masala A. Not exactly, although, it must be said, a large number of words from the Indian subcontinent relating to dishes at your local balti- or tandoori-house01:00 Fri 15th Feb 2002

What's new for 2002: the Collins Gem English Dictionary

The Collins Gem English Dictionary is 100 years old in 2002, but despite its age it's never out of date. To mark this anniversary Collins have published a centenary edition, which includes a new01:00 Sun 10th Feb 2002

Old wives' tales

Q. That is tales told by old wives and not old tales told by wives isn't it A. Yes (check out the apostrophe) - though there's nothing to say that wives don't tell old tales. The traditional01:00 Mon 04th Feb 2002


Q. Meaning A. The Latin words finis terre mean 'the end of the earth' or 'land's end'. Q. And A. Cabo de Finisterre - Cape Finisterre - is the name of a length of the Galician coast in the01:00 Mon 04th Feb 2002

Ghost ship: The Mary Celeste

Q. Hasn't the wreck of the Mary Celeste recently been found A. In summer 2001 the author Clive Cussler, a veteran wreck-finder, announced that he had found the remains of the Mary Celeste, one of01:00 Fri 01st Feb 2002

Very superstitious

Q. So what's triskaidekaphobia, then A. Quite simply, triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number thirteen. Triskaideka is the Classical Greek for thirteen, plus -phobia. As we all know, thirteen is01:00 Thu 31st Jan 2002

Go greased lightin'...

Q. ...You're burning up the quarter mile A. Etc. Grease was one of the biggest hits of stage and screen of the 1970s - and it still won't go away. Even if you hated the film, you can probably still01:00 Thu 24th Jan 2002

Giga-numbers: what's big in zeros

Q. An obvious place to start, but what exactly is a billion these days A. That depends where you're from. In the UK a billion was traditionally 1 million million, but in recent years it has been01:00 Thu 24th Jan 2002

Unemployment link to ink shock

Q. Why is this such a burning question, then A. Because the word ink, via the Old French enque (Modern French encre) and the Late Latin encaustum, can be traced back to the Greek egkauston, which01:00 Wed 23rd Jan 2002

'That's not what I meant': Contronyms

Q. Contro-what A. Nyms, as in the suffix meaning 'name', found in other words such as synonym, antonym, eponym, anonymous, etc. Q. So A. A contronym is a word which is its own opposite. These are01:00 Sun 20th Jan 2002

What we need is a great big melting-pot...

Q. ...Big enough to take the world and all it's got A. Exactly. Blue Mink's 1969 hymn to racial harmony was a huge hit at a time when on the one hand people were being encouraged as never before to01:00 Fri 18th Jan 2002

Barbi-tonsoribus: Something for the weekend, sir

Q. Nothing to do with Barbie and Ken, then A. Nope. As the title suggests, this is something to do with hairdressing. Barbie and Ken are not being implicated in this old profession. Q. So, a01:00 Fri 18th Jan 2002

Life begins at four-X: Forty

Q. So, what's with forty A. That old saw about life beginning at forty is just one of the many examples of the use of two-score in English. However, most instances of forty have more to do with the01:00 Sat 12th Jan 2002


Q. What's an 'ism' A. The suffix -ism made its way into English from the French -isme, itself derived from the Latin -ismus, and it's used to denote a characteristic, a tendency or a syndrome.01:00 Fri 11th Jan 2002

Lost words

As languages evolve so the meanings of words change, and many common or everyday modern words may well have started out with meanings far removed from their present ones. While there are those01:00 Fri 11th Jan 2002


Q. What is it A. Metaphorically a will-o'-the-wisp is an elusive or delusive goal or spurious hope, but its literal meaning is the same as ignis fatuus. Q. What on earth is ignis fatuus A. It's01:00 Sun 06th Jan 2002

We are not amused

Q. Did Queen Victoria ever say that A. The apocryphal tale goes that a certain groom-in-waiting named Alexander Grantham Yorke was caught by the monarch in mid-imitation of her and she allegedly01:00 Sat 05th Jan 2002

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