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Strictly speaking

Whether you’re cis or trans is all a matter of perspective


Prefixes in English often come in complementary pairs, such as ante-/post- (antemeridian/postmeridian), in-/out- (inside/outside), et cetera. A less well-known pairing is trans- (‘across’, ‘beyond’) and cis- (‘on this side of’), as in transmontane/cismontane – referring to something situated either beyond ...

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Strictly speaking | Emoji


It’s the time of year when people start creating ‘Best of 2015’ lists and dictionaries put out their ‘Word of the Year’. The Oxford Dictionaries’ choice has caused something of a furore, as it isn’t actually a word. It’s an ...

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Strictly speaking | KELP


Kelp is an old word for seaweed, especially for the biggest in the family, the so-called giant kelp found on the Pacific coasts of America. Over the centuries, it was used in agriculture as a fertiliser, and as a pre-industrial ...

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Strictly speaking | BOOKANEER


Bookaneer looks like a modern coinage – a word invented to make reading more attractive to small children by associating it with pirates. Indeed, an episode of the popular TV show for young learners, Sesame Street, has Elmo joining the ...

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Strictly speaking | VAPE


This curious word, abbreviated from vaporise, has had a short life in science fiction, as a verb meaning “to vaporise by means of a weapon” and more generally “to destroy completely”. Either meaning would apply in the citation of the ...

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Strictly speaking | Swirling


Swirling means having a partner of a different race. The term has been around since the early 2000s, according to urbandictionary.com, and has been brought to more prominence recently by Christelyn Karazin, who has written a book about it, and ...

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Strictly speaking | LIQUID


For the physicist, liquid is the state of matter between solid and gaseous, and for nonphysicists it’s probably something to wet the whistle on a dry day. But it has long been attached to other concepts in several related verbs: ...

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The growth in popularity of cycling as a sport, and a means of commuting, has resulted in the evolution of a new species: the mamil (Middle-Aged Man In Lycra). The origin of the term is disputed. Wikipedia will inform you ...

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The evergreen pine is one of the proverbial “friends of winter” in China and Japan, and still a symbol of Christmas celebrations in the southern hemisphere. In German tradition, the persistently green needles of evergreen trees are symbolic of fidelity ...

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In this year’s Australian Open, Andy Murray was described by commentators as bageling his semi-final opponent, before being bageled himself in the final. This is not a new way of abusing your opponents by hurling bread at them. Rather, it ...

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