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Have you been betrumped lately?

PUBLISHED: 11:23 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:23 22 November 2018

Pettifogging is still in the dictionary but doesn't get much use - is it time for a revival? Picture: LJM

Pettifogging is still in the dictionary but doesn't get much use - is it time for a revival? Picture: LJM


Should we revive all the archaic words that rarely get an airing or should we find a new way of using them? Lynne Mortimer considers.

The words we have loved and mostly lost − is it time they made a comeback?

Which words? Well the 600 cited by author Edward Allhusen include betrumped, pettifogging, harridan, trollop, conk and lickspittle.
Harridan − a bossy woman; trollop − a promiscuous woman. I’m not sure we need those two making a reappearance unless they go unisex. It would make a change from the more usual “masterful” and “bit of a lad” that embrace the same sort of thing... except more with approbation than censure.

The English language as we are forever being told, moves on. Only last week Oxford Dictionaries declared its word of the year was “toxic” as it relates to today’s world.

“More than ever, people have been using ‘toxic’ to describe a vast array of things, situations, concerns and events,” says the esteemed lexicographer.

The top 10 words that have been paired with toxic are: chemical, masculinity, substance, gas, environment, relationship, culture, waste, algae and air. I can’t say I have noticed toxic masculinity... must have missed that one.

The words that made the shortlist were gaslighting, incel, techlash, gammon, big dick energy (we won’t go into this one, cakeism (wanting your cake and to be able to eat it... a Brexit negotiation reference). overtouristing and orbiting. Nice to see gaslight making a comeback, that should please Mr Allhusen even though in this verb form it refers to the film Gaslight when someone is psychologically manipulated.

Gammon is an older middle-class white man whose face becomes flushed due to anger when expressing political opinions.

These are all words which have newly emerged from the zeitgeist or with a new definition. It seems to me we that have the answer in our own hands. If we want to re-engage with old, defunct words then all we have to do is find them a modern meaning.

Betrumped − that has to be an easy one. It’s original meaning is “to cheat or deceive” but Betrumped in a 2108 context could well mean to be the subject of an unsympathetic Donald Trump tweet.

Pettifogging: originally means attaching undue importance to a matter. With just a slight adjustment, we get Pettimogging − giving too much credence to the opinions of multi-millionaire politician Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Trollop: an online troll with slack grammar and spelling

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