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Feb 15, 2010
This week's theme
Words with London connections

This week's words
billingsgate
Star Chamber
Fleet Street
Grub Street
bedlam

Billingsgate Market
Billingsgate Market
(Illustration: Augustus Charles Pugin & Thomas Rowlandson, c.1810)

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Hello from London! I'm spending a week here in the English capital.

London may no longer be the epicenter of the English tongue -- there are many Englishes today: American English, Indian English, Canadian English, South African English, and so on. But as the cradle of the English language, many words in its vocabulary owe their origins to places in London.

This week, I'll take you on a tour of five places around London that have become words.

(Also see, another report from London)

billingsgate

PRONUNCIATION:
(BIL-ingz-gayt, -git)

MEANING:
noun: Vulgar, abusive language.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Billingsgate fish market in London, once notorious for the foul language of its fishmongers. A related word is fishwife, a synonym for a vulgar-tongued woman.

USAGE:
"Kitty Warren is articulate when needed but when threatened or challenged, guttersnipe dialect and billingsgate dominate."
Ted Hadley; Shaw Play Masterfully Tackles Taboo Topics; Buffalo News (New York); Jul 25, 2008.

See more usage examples of billingsgate in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I have lived in this world just long enough to look carefully the second time into things that I am most certain of the first time. -Josh Billings, columnist and humorist (1818-1885)

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