3 words that have sent me to the dictionary lately

Of the three words that have sent me to the dictionary recently – two of them are from Times columns by superdish Giles Coren, who I recently started following on Twitter. These days it really doesn’t happen all that often that I don’t already know a word. This is probably a bad thing. No-one can know every word, and so none of the reading I routinely do takes me out of my vocabulary comfort zone.

1 – Vexillology

This word cropped up on a CV of the ultimately successful candidate for a job for which I was on the interview panel. It means the study of flags.

2 – Rapine

From a Coren column about barcodes. It seems to be a synonym for pillage, making the phrase “rape and pillage” tautologous.

3 – Subfusc

Like Rapine, it’s from another Coren column, this one about lawyers. And like rapine, it’s a word that first drew my eye because it looks a bit like a typo. It means dark or dingy, and my initial googling suggests it might also be Oxford argot for drab formal wear. That certainly makes sense in context.


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