Papers are easily embarrassed, like dogs made to wear fancy dress

17 August 2017 | by Christopher Howse



An incidental pleasure of looking up a word in the Oxford English Dictionary (last printed in 20 volumes) is to find an entry not updated for more than a century. Such is the case with lubricious, unrevised since 1903.

It had been used last week by Edward Lucas in The Times, and it struck me as a word now unusual in newspapers. What surprised me next was that the OED said that it meant the same as lubricous “in various senses”, which was not much help, as I had never come across lubricous and would have taken it for a misprint if I had. Its “various senses” began with the literally oily, as with “the skin of the cephalopods”.


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