Wednesday 29 November 2017


According to my dictionary, to bedew means to cover with dew or sprinkle with drops of water. That part seems fair enough, but it goes on to state that poets can also use the word to mean sprinkle with tears.

Does it seem fair to you that a poet's characters' cheek may be be bedewed with tears but mine may not?

No, I didn't think so. Oh well, sometimes life isn't fair, so I'll confine all my bedewing to that involving unsalted water.

Wednesday 22 November 2017


To conflate is to blend or fuse together two sets of information – usually texts. When Rosemary J Kind and I worked on our joint book, she conflated her contribution with mine. The resulting conflation is From Story Idea to Reader.

Wednesday 15 November 2017


To miaul is to cry like a cat, or to mew. I have no idea, other than the spelling, how it differes from miaow. Do you know?

Bagpuss doesn't miaul, he snores.

Wednesday 8 November 2017


A contranym (or contronym or even autoantonym if you prefer) is a word for which there are two opposite or contradictory meanings.

As examples–

 'Left' can mean remaining or departed. When the girls left the room, the boys were left behind.

'Trim' can either mean adding or removing something. I trim my hat with flowers, but trim the hedge with shears. 

'Refrain' is either to stop or repeat depending on the context. I might sing the refrain, or refrain from singing. (If you're nearby, you'll prefer the latter.)

Can you think of more examples?