ARTICLES

Alongside books, I write for Mental Floss, occasional blogs and articles for the likes of BuzzFeed, The Independent and HuffPost Books, and all the etymological blogposts, quizzes and newsletters for my own Haggard Hawks blog. You can find details of my most recent online articles here—just click to read the article in full, or else click through to the ARCHIVE section above to see a list of all my online work to date. 

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Dollar Words: The Logophile Game That Has Math Geeks Hooked

10 July 2018, Mental Floss

One thing that people who like wordplay enjoy messing around with is the numerical value of the letters of the alphabet. And it’s there that maths geeks and language geeks come together, on the quest for so-called “dollar”words—words whose letters, when transformed into their respective numbers, add up to 100. Turkey, tattooed and thirty are all dollar words—but the quest for numerical perfection doesn’t end there...  

25 Strange Wedding Gifts Given to Royals

8 May 2018, Mental Floss

Commissioned to celebrate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, this list covers 25 royal couples from throughout history—from Harry’s brother and sister-in-law to the biblical King Solomon. No kitchen appliances and honeymoon cash here: these historical royal gifts include the likes of three leopards, a sugarwork model of the groom, half a ton of cheese, an operetta, and the entire Judean town of Gezer...

11 Things That Are Forbidden In The British Parliament

9 April 2018, Mental Floss

t’s not permitted to give a speech in the UK Parliament in any language except English unless absolutely necessary (despite the fact that from 1916–22, Britain had a native Welsh speaker as its Prime Minister). That’s not the only things forbidden inside the Houses of Parliament, however; you can add names, armour, the reigning monarch, and calling someone a “guttersnipe” to that list...

17 Hilarious Definitions From Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary

5 April 2018, Mental Floss

It took roughly eight years for Samuel Johnson and his staff of six helpers to complete his Dictionary of the English Language, which was published 263 years ago, on 15 April 1755. The work soon established itself as one of the most important dictionaries in the history of the English language—and thanks to Johnson’s characteristic caustic wit, some of its definitions are well worth investigating... 

18 Words To Welcome Spring

5 March 2018, Mental Floss

If there’s only one reason to remember the feast day of St Winwaloe on March 3, it’s that his mother was named “Gwen the Three-Breasted”. Or that he’s the patron saint of priapism, a condition that leaves men with permanent painful erections. Or, perhaps, it’s that he gave his name to the old dialect expression

winnol-weather—a period of stormy or wintry weather around his feast day, on March 3... 

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© Paul Anthony Jones 2014-18