The Cabinet of Calm: Words for Worrying Times

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle enjoys a new lexicon of useful words for troubled times

We live in strange and worrying times. If hindsight, as Billy Wilder once said, is always 20:20, then our own hindsight on 2020 will surely be dominated by widespread unrest, a global pandemic, and that word previous associated more with prisons and areas of lawlessness: ‘lockdown’. There are several words which have come to the fore in 2020, not least the (already outdated-sounding) ‘COVID-19’, to say nothing of the (already exceedingly annoying) ‘new normal’ and (wildly inaccurate) ‘social distancing’. Perhaps word-historians of the future will write whole books on ‘the language of 2020’.

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