Sunday, 22nd February 2015

by Joshua Gaskell

I’m receiving more and more emails which, apropos of nothing, refer to a particular set of out-of-context objects and concepts. I set out the OED meanings of these here, in an attempt to find a connection and solve the puzzle:

  • ‘The secret language or jargon used by gipsies, thieves, professional beggars, etc.’
  • A ‘place of torment for the wicked after death’.
  • ‘The inherited instinctive impulses of the individual’.
  • ‘A misfortune, a calamity, a disaster’.
  • ‘A slight structure built for shelter or storage’.
  • ‘The hard outside covering of an animal, a fruit, etc.’
  • ‘A pit dug in the ground to obtain a supply of spring water’.
  • ‘A short or quick movement.’
  • ‘Habitual or customary usage, custom, habit.’

The only thing I can think of is that people are increasingly emailing from their smartphones as opposed to their computers. But how would this explain the explosion of interest in cant, hell, the id, ills, sheds, shells, wells, weves, and wonts?