EDitorial ± 22-Apr-2003

Your New Favourite Word

There's nothing like a good book. Except a good film, or possibly a new album from The Divine Comedy. Of course, I'm being facetious, a word which here means... well, you do know, don't you? We've each of us got a body of words that we use, our own vocabulary. Cue some words from the founder of The Tatler:

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body
— Sir Richard Steele, 1710

There I was today, browsing the odd non-work-related page on the web. Flicking through a fascinating piece in Wired magazine about Google search terms, I came across my new favourite word:

Or to put it another way, a gewgaw

This is a Yiddish term meaning trinket or knick-knack, and is now applied in particular to promotional merchandise. In other words, "tat" (sorry to tell it like it is, Martin). We shouldn't forget that ebay is built on such items, thankfully. Pronunciation-wise, by the way, it seems to rhyme with the only Greta Garbo film in Barry Norman's 100 top films of the century.

Robert Robinson says: "And the next word is":

1930s blend of agitatsiya and propaganda

Sandwiched between "aggro" and "Angewism" in my Brewer's Twentieth Century Phrase & Fable, it's short for agitation propaganda. Can't recall how I encountered this portmanteau word, but it's stuck with me for years. Sounds like an essential component of a Bell Huey, don't you think? Hey, Dr Romano, watch out for that agitprop!

At college one of the departmental lecturers, a very cool and clever guy who tried to teach us LISP, was named Dr Ajit Narayanan. Each time I saw his first name, I thought of Russian politics.

And finally for now:

...of Nineveh from distant Ophir...

Beats most other words hands-down. You'd need the only "q" plus a blank tile to play it in Scrabble, and "avers" would already need to be on the board. Not terribly likely.

I think it means facing outwards in all directions. Reminds me of the four-faced clock that used to adorn the Safe Harbour pub on Meredith Road, the one that was demolished to make way for an Aldi store.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

Words for another time:

  1. anomie
  2. bucolic
  3. vituperative

Be seeing you!