From Susie Dent’s fascinating new book on ‘modern tribes’
The lexicographer and etymologist Susie Dent is well-known in the UK thanks to her role as the resident word expert and adjudicator on the long-running Channel 4 quiz show Countdown (the very first programme broadcast on the channel in 1982; Susie Dent joined the show in 1992). Dent is also the author of a series of popular books on the English language. Dent’s Modern Tribes: The Secret Languages of Britain is her latest book, and we were fortunate enough to be recipients of a review copy. The book is a treasure-trove of unusual jargon and colourful slang from various trades, clubs, sports, social groups, and walks of life – everything from an old publican’s friendly nickname for a habitual drinker (that’s a tosspot) to the theatrical term for an actor who performs in an exaggerated, hammy manner (that’ll be a scenery-chewer). Dent has been scouring old dictionaries of slang and other historical sources for such memorable linguistic zingers.