By ERIN MCKEAN
Rousing or Repugnant?
"Our guiding principle in respect of the 'Y-word' [yid] is based on the point of law itself—the distinguishing factor is the intent with which it is used, i.e., if it is used with the deliberate intention to cause offense. [Our fans] do not use the term to others to cause any offense, they use it as a chant among themselves."
Jesse Sheidlower, author of "The F-Word," says that the use of a single letter to refer to taboo word was well-established in English by the 1920s, and the use of the suffix "-word" to highlight a taboo term was in common use by the 1980s. One printable example given is "T-word" for "taxes."
Thailand's main political parties have found some unusual common ground by restoring elections for a group of local leaders who would rather have nothing to do with the ballot box—the village chiefs and local leaders known as kamnans.
Kamnan is sometimes translated as "commune head," "subdistrict headman" or "borough chief." They're usually in charge of a district called a tambon, or "township."
Don't Get Hiss-terical
If you suffer from a crippling case of ophidiophobia and then go spend your life in Ireland, it's easy to imagine you've gotten over your fear of snakes.
Ophidiophobia comes from Greek roots meaning "serpent" and "fear." Herpetophobia is a more general word that includes the fear of other reptiles as well as snakes.
Similarly, Sweet Tooth will subsidize passably right-thinking British writers under the guise of a grant from a fake foundation. Serena's "gull," as she guiltily thinks of him, is Tom Haley, an undiscovered novelist...
Gull, used to mean someone easily fooled, may come from the "fledgling bird" sense of the word and has been in use in English since the late 1500s.—Ms. McKean is a lexicographer and the founder of Wordnik, an online dictionary focusing on how words are used today.