A doctrine of doctors

A doctrine of doctors

So now, when you are reporting from a medical conference, you know the correct term to package all those medics together.  They are huddling and expostulating as a ‘doctrine’.  Perhaps the collective noun refers, however, as much or more to doctors of the...
Portable, durable bread

Portable, durable bread

This twice-baked Greek bread is known for its durability, keeping for months.  The trick seems to be to know how much to soften it with water when you want to use it. Here is one recipe, and there are others of a sweet version, many of which have a strong resemblance...
Blackavized Maniots

Blackavized Maniots

Patrick Leigh Fermor’s beautifully wrought account of his travels in Mani in Greece provides a vivid portrayal of the Maniots, including the rare and almost Shakespearean word, ‘blackavized’.  That echo of a ‘visor’ conveys something of a...
A drunkenship of cobblers

A drunkenship of cobblers

What did cobblers do to be nailed with such a bad reputation?  When did you ever see a drunken cobbler? Surely they should cobble together a class action, and hobble such aspersions on their profession, particularly given the favourable light cast on any gathering of...
A temperance of cooks

A temperance of cooks

Having recently revelled in the bursting descriptions of a quaffing, boozing, drunken chef in Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan, I was surprised to see the collective noun for the profession of cook being ‘temperance’.  Perhaps Swelter is the exception...
Endzweck

Endzweck

I came across this German word in a documentary about Bach narrated by the conductor John Eliot Gardiner, author of the door-stopper Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven.  He translated it as ‘ultimate’ or ‘artistic goal’, something of an...
Glidder

Glidder

‘It was low tide, and the water ran below glidders, or steep muddy slopes.’ Williamson has a helpful habit of using unusual words and then immediately providing his definition of them.  Here he defines ‘glidder’ as a steep muddy slope, which...
Yarr

Yarr

‘Deadlock yarred through his bare teeth.’ ‘Between his teeth the hound yarred…’ A word now apparently limited to dialect, but feel free to revive it more generally.  If anyone snarls or growls at you, you can tell them to ‘Stop...
Glidden

Glidden

‘… to where the banks were glidden into mud smothered by the sea.’ An English dialect word meaning to ‘glaze over’ or cover with ice. Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus....

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