New Year, new words

2016 is sure to throw up new words and phrases. Some will enrich the language; others will die if they don’t prove useful.

I came across a delightful word, new to me, at an exhibition at the British Museum called “Celts, art and identity”: findspot. It means just what you’d expect – the place where an object was dug up. In the case of the Celts the findspot was an important part of the story of all those beautiful things, because they weren’t found only in Britain, Ireland and France; but also in central Germany and as far afield as Spain and Turkey.

I doubt that findspot will be much used outside the world of archaeology, but in a way I hope it stays there, where its meaning is clear and it is really useful. It shouldn’t suffer the fate of so many words that are taken out of their original context and used by people who want to sound important. What does “greater granularity” mean, for example, when referring to data in a report? Doesn’t it just mean “more detail”?

If you enjoy hearing about new words and phrases, The Wall Street Journal has an entertaining section called Word on the Street.

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