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Travelling branches of public libraries have existed since at least 1905, when Mary Titcomb, a Maryland librarian, used a horse-drawn wagon as a library on wheels. The coinage of the word bookmobile to refer to these mobile libraries, however, […]

streetcar (‘a shell’)

In 1950, the novelist Raymond Chandler wrote in a letter to Hamish Hamilton: ‘Doesn’t he [i.e. Eric Partridge, the author of many slang dictionaries] overlook some of the most commonly used words of soldier-slang? E.g…”street cars” or “tram cars” for heavy long range shells.’ […]

Zeppelins in a cloud

Zeppelins, which were widely used for reconnaissance and bombing in the First World War, must have captured the imagination of soldiers, and one of the more colourful phrases originating in the war is ‘Zeppelins (or Zepps) in a cloud’ […]


Perhaps it is fitting that mystery surrounds the appearance of the word ‘paranormal’, but can you help us solve it? […]