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notable omens and totems

  • POPS (n.): privately owned public space. A place where secret rules can apply to you. You can tell them by how nice/sterile they are and by the hi-viz men lurking at the edges. ("Public" is obvs a very vague word but it is fair to gloss it here as "unfenced place with seating or grass, on a public thoroughfare, which people gravitate to in idle hours".)

  • to roget (v.): to disguise plagiarism through systematic abuse of a thesaurus. Good word game: what rogeted phrase produces "sinister buttocks"? (Actually of course, "to attempt to disguise".) The sad thing is is that this is happening in an age with good automatic paraphrasing software.

  • yellow books (maths n.): The mathematics textbooks put out by Springer Verlag; a watchword for rigour and broken ground and what you will never ever master.

  • nooch (n.): Nutritional yeast. A forced and chummy coinage by well-meaning vegans.

  • senectitude (n.): old age, senescence, dotage.

  • bobby-soxer (1940s n.): Young female pop fan, mad for Sinatra. From having to dance in her socks in the gym hall. Precursor to "teenybopper", "Belieber", etc.

  • tertium quid (science n.): a third thing. A common cause, a confounder which produces an illusory relationship between the first and second things.

  • Grotonian (n.): Pupil or alum of Groton School, a posh prep in Massachusetts.


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