Word play

Apart from strange or repulsive associations - think phlegm, pimple and moist - what other reasons drive us to dislike certain words?

Appearance: To some eyes, cooperative looks bulky, in desperate need of a separating hyphen.

Pronunciation: Ointment, with its opening "oi" sound, might make a speaker feel like an oinking pig - the sound is awkward and guttural to make.

Form: Diminutives, aka baby talk like daddy, jammies, bye-bye, make adults (and precocious teens) uncomfortable.


Overuse: Literally and awesome have become meaningless fluff or crutch terms we use to stall for time or emphasise a point or idea. ("Pretty much everything that isn't terrible is awesome in America now," complains writer David Sedaris in his memoir Calypso.)

Hyper-popularity: Buzzwords and catchy slang - bromance, AF, basic, lit, and so many more - tend to exasperate after they've been in circulation for a while, though they are often reincarnated as objects for ironic appropriation. (FOMO, or "fear of missing out", a once-beloved millennial term, now has a tongue-in-cheek counterpart: JOMO, or "joy of missing out".)

(Via Oxford Blog)

Embarrassing historical injuries

Andrea writes: "I came across a large garden rake at my cousin's house and wondered: if I stood on it would it actually hit me in the face like it does on the Roadrunner cartoons. Obviously It did. Hurt like a b**** and had a blood nose for two hours - and 38 years on, my parents still laugh till they cry about it."

Capsicum ready to rave

Last word

A reader writes: "The late lamented John Clarke, in the early days of his Fred Dagg persona, had a sketch where he was in the bath wearing his wellies and hat and the off-camera interviewer asked him what being a New Zealander meant. One of his replies:

'Being instantly able to spot a Z in a newspaper page.' My memory of the show and indeed the sketch may be a bit hazy but I can remember him saying that clearly, as it's something I have always been able to do, and have always thought this true!"

A side of bread...

Gyles Brandreth asked for a roll ..." I seem to have been offered a roll in the hay!" (From a movement devoted to food being served on plates, not pieces of slate, shovels or , We Want Plates)

Video pick

In October this year recreational marijuana will become legal in Canada. That doesn't mean driving while stoned will be legal. We know how they test for alcohol, but how would you test for how high someone is?

Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at ana.samways@nzherald.co.nz