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Strictly speaking

Dinkum

Colloquial words that come from nowhere can be redeployed and radically redesigned in different times and places. Dinkum is one such, which probably originated in C19 Northern English dialects, though in Australia it’s sometimes thought to consist of two Chinese ...

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Iron Lady

The recent death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has given rise to a spate of articles about the Iron Lady’s legacy. This famous nickname was first given to her by the Soviet army magazine Red Star in 1976. ...

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Self-imaging

The word self-image is usually understood as someone’s mental construction of themself, which may or may not correspond with their looks and social behaviour.  Compare the newly-coined selfie, which is definitely a physical image of oneself, taken by oneself on ...

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MEME

The term meme, or more particularly internet meme, has become a buzzword to describe any concept or idea that spreads very quickly via the internet or social media. Examples of these can range from a catchy phrase, to a video, ...

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THE LAST HUMMER

The vehicle that looks like a railway carriage on wheels charging down the highway is a reminder of the rapid evolution of vehicle design priorities. The last Hummer rolled off the production line in 2010, its fate sealed by being ...

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Romnesia

In a speech in Virginia on October 19, Barack Obama riffed on the term Romnesia to accuse his Republican opponent of forgetfulness over previous policy statements. He wasn’t the first to use the word. The American news organisation motherjones.com carried ...

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INDEFFED

Indefinite appointments give unlimited tenure to academics, which must be one of the few positive uses of the adjective. The cut-down form – indeff, turned into the verb indeffed – carries the weight of a life-sentence for those whose editorial ...

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SKEUOMORPH

When I referred to the trash or recycle bin on our desktops in a Strictly Speaking last month (18/9), I didn’t know that this is what’s known as a skeuomorph (from the Greek skeuos “vessel, implement” + morphe “form”). The ...

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BIRTHISM

Birthism is a new word for a very old kind of bias or prejudice against others according to their birthplace. It is a thinly disguised form of chauvinism, disparaging of different nationalities, ethnicities and any other language than one’s own. ...

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