Top 81 Susie Dent Quotes

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“Booze’ was once a popular term in the slang or ‘cant’ of the criminal underworld, which may explain its rebellious overtones today.”

― Susie Dent

“Can I get a mochaccino?’: a statement that, for many, is worse than any number of nails down a blackboard. Not on account of the coffee – most of us drink Ventis aplenty these days – rather it’s the ‘can I get?’ – three words that regularly top the list of British bugbears.”

― Susie Dent

“In all my years in ‘Countdown’s’ Dictionary Corner, the subject most guaranteed to rankle with our viewers is the presence of Americanisms in the dictionary.”

― Susie Dent

“I love American English, not least because a lot of it was ours to begin with. Indeed, many Americanisms can be found in the works of William Shakespeare.”

― Susie Dent

“From the start, English has happily absorbed words from every tongue it’s encountered.”

― Susie Dent

“The enduring image I will keep of Jane Goodall is of her emotional goodbye to a chimp she had rescued and nurtured, on the day of the animal’s release.”

― Susie Dent

“Above all, Jane Goodall continues to teach us that, as humans, we are no more entitled to our glorious planet than the chimps she so lovingly protects.”

― Susie Dent

“I was fascinated by the shape of words even before I knew what they meant.”

― Susie Dent

“I’m not a brazen extrovert, but I’m not as blushing or demure as people might think.”

― Susie Dent

“The one thing – apart from assumptions about German – that I have to challenge frequently is people assuming that lexicographers are fierce protectors of the language when in fact our job is not to put a lid on it.”

― Susie Dent

“German has always felt the language that I come back to. It’s given a very hard time by most people for being ugly and guttural. In fact, it’s one of the most melodic, lyrical languages around. And German literature is amazing. It’s just a treasury for me.”

― Susie Dent

“The word ‘eavesdropper’ originally referred to people who, under the pretence of taking in some fresh air, would stand under the ‘eavesdrip’ of their house – from which the collected raindrops would fall – in the hopes of catching any juicy tid-bits of information that might come their way from their neighbour’s property.”

― Susie Dent

“According to my parents, I’ve always liked to tune into the conversations of others. But rather than hope for a snippet of salacious gossip, it has always been the words themselves that I wanted to understand.”

― Susie Dent

“What I’ve discovered is that from football fans to undertakers, secret agents to marble-players and politicians, we all are part of at least one tribe. By tribes, I’m talking anthropologically; these groups are determined less by genes and more by the work they do or the passions they pursue.”

― Susie Dent

“The earliest dictionaries were collections of criminal slang, swapped amongst ne’er-do-wells as a means of evading the authorities or indeed any outsider who might threaten the trade.”

― Susie Dent

“Bizarrely, our English word ‘sturdy’ may go back to the Latin turdus, thrush. Anyone described as ‘sturdy’ in the 1200s was wilfully reckless and possibly as immovable as a sozzled bird.”

― Susie Dent

“The notion of ‘Queen’s English’ is usually applied to our pronunciation.”

― Susie Dent

“In the middle of the 20th century, aspirations to sound ‘proper’ were passionately pursued. Dictionaries as late as the Seventies include many pronunciations that could cut the proverbial glass.”

― Susie Dent

“English has always been a mongrel tongue, snapping up words from every continent its speakers encountered.”

― Susie Dent

“Probably my favourite winter-word of all. Apricity is the warmth of the sun on a chilly day.”

― Susie Dent

“Glogg is a Scandinavian mulled wine, sweetened with honey, almonds, raisins and spices. Its name suits its purpose so beautifully.”

― Susie Dent

“When eyeliner was introduced in the Twenties by Max Factor, a pioneer of Hollywood film cosmetics who began selling to the public, even the word ‘makeup’ was a revelation.”

― Susie Dent

“In the 1900s, bleaching lotions and skin-lighteners were a female imperative no matter what her colour, often carrying suggestive names like ‘Fair-Plex Ointment’ and ‘Black-No-More.’ The tiniest touch of rouge was allowed, but only if applied with great subtlety.”

― Susie Dent

“In the earliest days, make-up and moralising were intertwined. The ‘cosmetic slops and washes’ of the 17th and 18th centuries aimed to smooth complexions and revive a woman’s ‘bloom’ – but their critics were never far behind.”

― Susie Dent

“There is an art to eavesdropping, but I think to some extent we are all guilty of picking up those little odds and ends that can be quite intriguing if you analyse them.”

― Susie Dent

“I’ve been obsessed with words since I was a little girl, and I am fortunate that each week as resident word expert on ‘Countdown’ I am ideally placed to quiz my guests in dictionary corner about the words and phrases they use.”

― Susie Dent

“We are surrounded by hundreds of ‘tribes,’ each speaking their own distinct slanguage of colourful words, jokes and phrases that together form an idiosyncratic phrasebook, years in the making.”

― Susie Dent

“The battle between server and servee is as ancient as it is well disguised, and it follows, therefore, that waiters have developed a private lingo that allows them to mock, complain, or simply entertain themselves.”

― Susie Dent

“The best time to catch tribal jargon is when it’s not looking.”

― Susie Dent

“I don’t intentionally eavesdrop. I’m not looking for salacious gossip, I’m just looking for vocabulary items.”

― Susie Dent

“I really was the nerd in the car that read vocabulary books. If we were going on day trips, I would quite like to have just stayed in the car with my German and French vocab books. It’s embarrassing to admit to it now.”

― Susie Dent

“Britain’s fascination with its changing language is renowned.”

― Susie Dent

“Unlike our neighbours on the mainland of Europe, we have resisted creating an academy to legislate over proper English. We each have our linguistic bugbear, but few of us would want to freeze our mother tongue.”

― Susie Dent

“One of the joys of language is its constant evolution, and a lexicographer’s job is both to track new words and to reassess those from the past.”

― Susie Dent

“The character of our language defines us, and dictionaries say as much about us as about the way we speak.”

― Susie Dent

“No one expects the tone of an election to be mild-mannered, least of all a presidential one.”

― Susie Dent

“Super Tuesday is the day on which most states hold their primaries. Its darker partner is Dirty Tricks Thursday: the Thursday before an election when candidates release scandalous stories to garner bad publicity for their opponent: the timing means the accused will have little time to refute the allegations.”

― Susie Dent

“Political boundaries in their most physical terms can make or break an election. The manipulation of electoral districts can make them either ‘blue-hot’ or ‘red-hot’ depending on the level of intensity felt in either camp to such shifting ground.”

― Susie Dent

“As dialect began to be collected in the late 19th century, such words as Yorkshire’s ‘gobslotch’ emerged, revealing the burgeoning association between gluttony and stupidity.”

― Susie Dent

“For the Anglo-Saxons, food determined a person’s position in society.”

― Susie Dent

“For the Anglo-Saxons, meat was the main meal of the day, which revolved around ‘before-meat’ and ‘after-meat.’ But it has ended up as the metaphor for the most basic: ‘meat and potatoes’ is as far from sassy – from ‘sauce’ – as you can get.”

― Susie Dent

“Youthquake’ wasn’t an entirely predictable choice for Oxford’s Word of 2017. It hasn’t been on the lips of an entire nation, nor is it new. But it amply fulfilled the criteria Oxford requires for selection.”

― Susie Dent

“English may be the fastest moving language in the world, but there are plenty of concepts, sensations and everyday occurrences which lack a pithy word to describe them. Take the clunkiness of ‘the day before yesterday’ and ‘the day after tomorrow’: German provides single words for both.”

― Susie Dent

“Most crime novels offer a curious kind of escape, to places that jag the nerves and worry the mind. Their rides of suspense give a good thrill, but it’s rarely a comfortable one.”

― Susie Dent

“In South Korea, some 20 million people share just five surnames. Every one of Denmark’s top 20 surnames ends in ‘-sen,’ meaning ‘son of,’ a pattern that is replicated across Scandinavia. British surnames have never favoured such neatness, and we can be grateful for that.”

― Susie Dent

“The term ‘psychological thriller’ is an elastic one these days, tagged liberally on to any story of suspense that explores motivations while keeping blood and chainsaws to a minimum.”

― Susie Dent

“In many cases, the line between a thriller and a crime novel has become too blurred to be useful.”

― Susie Dent

“Among the best of Hitchcock’s own psychological thrillers is ‘Spellbound,’ whose story unusually wrapped the subject of psychoanalysis around a murder mystery.”

― Susie Dent

“We all know that little words or phrases can mean a lot, yet so few of us know just what to say. Phrases, such as ‘chin up,’ or ‘it could be worse,’ usually have the opposite effect; they feel tired and impersonal, even dismissive.”

― Susie Dent

“I love both garlic and onions, and this word pithily captures the rich tastes of both.”

― Susie Dent

“Why use salty when you can have brackish? It carries a sense of part-water, part-salt, too, just like the sea.”

― Susie Dent

“Claggy is often seen as a negative word, yet for me it describes perfectly that full-mouthed feel of a treacle tart of banoffee pie.”

― Susie Dent

“Friable isn’t often used of food, yet its meaning lends itself perfectly to pastry and crumbly biscuits.”

― Susie Dent

“Quite often people ask me ‘Is there a word for… ‘ and go on to highlight a gap in our language that we need to fill.”

― Susie Dent

“I’m a big believer in change and embrace the fact that English is probably the fastest-moving language in the world.”

― Susie Dent

“I like to introduce a few lost gems when I can to fellow word-lovers, and would genuinely love some of them to make a comeback.”

― Susie Dent

“New words can spread like wildfire thanks to social media – you only have to look at ‘mansplaining’ and ‘milkshake duck’ to see language evolution at work – so why not old ones too?”

― Susie Dent

“I’ve been collecting linguistic oddities for years and years, ever since I was small. I’ve got loads of notebooks where I’ve jotted down things I couldn’t make sense of.”

― Susie Dent

“Footballers, managers, pundits and fans make up possibly the biggest tribe of them all, especially in this country. Whatever is said by pundits is echoed across sofas and in pubs all over the nation.”

― Susie Dent

“If you eat foie gras, I would really urge you to look at the practice that goes in to producing it. It is totally barbaric and involves force-feeding on the most horrific scale imaginable.”

― Susie Dent

“Every sport, every profession, every group united by a single passion draws on a lexicon that is uniquely theirs, and theirs for a reason.”

― Susie Dent

“I’ve been a worrier for as long as I can remember.”

― Susie Dent

“When I was growing up, I worried that people would dismiss me as a boring swot because I always had my nose in a vocabulary book – usually in French or German.”

― Susie Dent

“My work, my love of words, became my refuge, both when I was working on bilingual dictionaries for Oxford University Press and then via my involvement with ‘Countdown’ – and now ‘Catsdown,’ as I call it.”

― Susie Dent

“I’m a work in progress. I’ve started doing spin classes, which always clears my head.”

― Susie Dent

“Slang moves on so fast that most new words disappear soon after they are coined. But there is always something that sticks behind.”

― Susie Dent

“The extraordinary thing about new words is that probably only about one per cent of them are new. Most are old words revived and adapted.”

― Susie Dent

“Slang has always moved this way. From Cockney rhyming slang to codes swapped among highwaymen, they’re tribal badges of identity, bonding mechanisms designed to distinguish the initiated, and to keep strangers out.”

― Susie Dent

“If a term becomes too popular, its irritant value is ramped up. The impulse is then to replace it with something else.”

― Susie Dent

“I work with the Oxford Dictionary databases, which sounds really boring, but they’re actually fascinating as they show you how current words are being used.”

― Susie Dent

“One of the things I noticed is that if you look up the word ambition you will see that when it’s applied to women, it’s almost always negative. If a woman is ambitious she’s cutthroat, she’s seen as more unpleasant. Whereas when its attached to a man it’s far less negative.”

― Susie Dent

“If we want to change the nuance of a particular word we have to change that ourselves.”

― Susie Dent

“Language is essentially tribal, so jargon can actually be a really good thing because it unites people.”

― Susie Dent

“New words travel from one variety of English to another and at a rapidly increasing rate, thanks to the way language is exchanged today over e-mail, chat rooms, TV, etc.”

― Susie Dent

“Slang has different functions: many of the words we use are playful and a lot are tribal – we speak the same way as the groups we are part of. A great deal are also euphemistic, so it’s no surprise that a third of us are perplexed by their meanings and origins.”

― Susie Dent

“Almost half the adult population finds discussing the subject of money difficult. Slang words help us to navigate these conversations by making us feel more comfortable and confident.”

― Susie Dent

“Linguistic supersizing is on the increase, and it may show the influence of advertising-speak and corporate jargon on language, in which everything needs to be hyped to get noticed. It means that some of our greatest words are losing their power.”

― Susie Dent

“I remember as a child of five or six lying in the bath marvelling at the different languages displayed on the shampoo bottles around me. From that moment on it was always words not numbers that held a fascination for me.”

― Susie Dent

“I can do some of the number puzzles.”

― Susie Dent

“I’m an Arsenal fan and an even bigger Arsene fan.”

― Susie Dent

“As a nation we love our dialects, and there is a lot of regional variance in the names for different foods – barmcake, bap or bun anyone?”

― Susie Dent
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