Word games

Fun programme that I forgot in last night’s list: Balderdash and Piffle. Could anyone but the BBC get away with a programme that’s an extended plug for the OED?

Most interesting word this week was nit nurse. Interesting because the word has clearly been around for as long as the nit nurses themselves (from the early 20th century) – I knew it, and the Welsh grannies the presenter talked to all knew it – but as a word coined and passed along by kids themselves, and not at all popular [that’s an understatement] with the adults it refers to. (But nonetheless the word hunters managed to find a reference over 40 years older than the OED’s previous earliest known usage.)

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4 Responses to Word games

  1. tony says:

    The first time we discovered we all had nits, was the very evening we got back from a visit to Eton, where we thought we might put Tom in for an assisted place. (We didn’t, in the end.) (And no, we probably didn’t pick up the nits there, either – that would have made the story much too perfect.) But I always felt that getting nits at all, with a hairstyle like mine, was adding insult to injury. A bit like getting piles as a side-effect of the anti-depressant medication I was taking once upon a time. Laughing at that one cured me in double quick time.

  2. Sharon says:


    (Piles as a side-effect of anti-depressants? How can that happen?)

  3. tony says:

    The culprit was amitryptiline, which can cause constipation, which can cause piles. So it was a kind of by-product of a side effect. But that’s not quite such a good story.

    But ouch is right.

  4. david tiley says:

    I think nit nurses are an Australian thing as well. Certainly the nits are.

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