Friday 9 April 2010


A taximeter cabriolet sped over the tar Macadam towards the zoological gardens where it swerved to avoid a perambulator and hit a mobile vulgus of musicians in periwigs who were unable to play their pianofortes and violoncellos for the next fourteen nights, much to the disappointment of their fanatics.

The cutting of a word is called clipping. An imaginary prize for the best sentence with forgotten topiary.

He never saw it coming

Update: It turns out that syncope is only the removal of a word's internal parts. Title changed.


  1. I've always thought of syncope as the loss of one or two phonemes, like "e'en" for "even". Shortening a word to one of its parts, like "bus" for "omnibus", is clipping.

  2. My OED proclaims you utterly right. My fault for trusting to the interweb. Yesterday I would have called it an abbreviation, but the chap who suggested the post to me last night insisted there was a clever term for it, and it's always bothered me that abbreviation is such a long word.

  3. Spooked by an auto on the prom, his pants caught in the wheel of his bike causing his cello to slip into a bed of golden mums outside the varsity dorm.

  4. Delightful, clever and informative. I'm not about to try and do better than you, though.

  5. And what about apheresis?

    (Which is the answer to 19 across in today's Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword.)

  6. The French seem particularly fond of clipping. I remember reading a French vocabulary book which referred to it as "guillotining", but I think this was a joke; the correct term appears to be "apocope"...although I am ready to be corected by those with superior knowledge of grammar and French.

    Very often the abbreviated word will have an "o" added to the end - like "intello" for intellectual, "apero" for aperitif, "ecolo" for ecologist and so on. The President's surname, having an "o" in the middle already, lends itself very easily to this practice - hence "Sarko".

    Here is a list of common apocopes:

  7. I am leaving out accents, obviously - there ought to be acute accents over the "e"s in "apero" and "ecolo", but I can't work out how to type them into the comment box...

  8. Actually, 19 across was 'etherises'. 1 down showed me the error of my ways.

  9. Mrs Malaprop the "alt gr" key, which ought to be just to the right of the space bar, gives you the accented é.

    Moptop, your sentence is splendid, so much so that you have clearly awed potential rivals into submission. Due to my busy schedule of versification, ritual washing etc I haven't had a chance to do the crossword for several days now and the jumbo I leave well alone as it would only feed my addiction. For the record my two favourite clues are:

    Eggs on toast (6)


    Unsuitable material for prison building, in general (9)

  10. As a thank you, a lovely article about crosswords.