This word, usually used as a noun, has moved from the area of music to general usage in the last few years.  It describes moving smoothly from one part or section to another.


The musical is so well constructed that one song segues into another with the audience barely noticing.

It has been adopted in other circumstances.

The debate segued from a discussion on rape to an analysis of gender politics overall.


The main living room segues into a bigger community space, suitable for as a games room or a large study space for the children.

 The pronunciation is “seg-way”, and there has also been some attempts to spell it in this way, given that the Italian original could be tricky for some.  It can also be used as a noun “ the/ a segue”.

I can’t help feeling that it is the sort of word you use to show off, unless you belong to a culture that might use it frequently and outside musicians I have a hard time thinking who they might be.  Nonetheless, it is now a commonly employed word, especially in the US. Maybe we can say it is bringing some color into the language.


By the way, the word “Segway” is the brand name for a two wheel scooter!



Ratchet up

Ratchet is not a word I recall having in my vocabulary a few years ago.  I probably knew that a ratchet was a sort of wheel with teeth or tool that was used to tighten slowly or increase pressure.


Now ratchet up seems to be very much in vogue.

After the Manchester bombing police are ratcheting up security.

It means to increase bit by bit by small regular amounts. Sounds a bit like torture!

The opposition is ratcheting up the pressure on the President over the loans scandal.

Of course, it reminds us of Nurse Ratched, in the acclaimed film One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, who was the stereotype of a mean wicked psychiatric nurse.


Have you been ratcheting up your spending on goodies this year?


The Sandman


Let’s look this time not at sandboys but at the sandman. Traditionally, the sandman is a figure that comes to sprinkle dust into children’s eyes to bring on sleep and dreams. He appears in various folklores and was used by Hans Christian Andersen in his tales. More recently there has been a very successful comic book by Neil Gaiman with the usual spin-offs.

I don’t know if people still refer to him to persuade children to sleep. I can’t say I was ever convinced.

Children, lights out and eyes closed or the Sandman will get you!

Songs include Enter Sandman by Metallica and the catchy Mr Sandman sung by various artists including Bette Midler and Emmylou Harris.


A movie based on the comic books has been in development for some years and seems to be plagued with delays and problems.

Drop a record

In the days of vinyl records you’d drop one and risked it breaking.  The meaning was literal and the common one of something falling.

There has been quite a bit of fuss in New Zealand lately as our international pop star Lorde has been dropping singles. One a week to date.  In the past, she would have been releasing them which was media talk for making them available to the market.

Several times The Beatles released two singles in the same week and had numerous songs in the chart at once.

Which is a pretty strange use as well. Releasing them from what? Captivity?


Lorde dropped her second single from the upcoming album yesterday, when Liability was posted on Youtube.

Makes it sound like a hen laying eggs onto the straw of the chicken pen.  I wonder how many singles she plans to drop this time around!  And miracle of miracles, male artists can do it too!




I recently came across a new word to describe the reaction of the lower class white voter in the United States who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump as a whitelash. Political commentators say that it was a reaction to eight years of rule by an Afro-American, who they feel has not done very much for them.


This type of sharp reaction against someone or some action is commonly called a backlash.

 After declaring Itself a nuclear-free zone in the eighties and questioning the presence of nuclear weapons on foreign warships, there was a considerable backlash against New Zealand from the US military, who cut most military ties with their ally.

The new word connects the ideas of race and repercussion very well. The opposite would presumably be a blacklash.  This word doesn’t exist but sounds perfectly feasible.

The huge gains by Trump in low-income white areas, long neglected by politicians, is regarded as a whitelash.

 Another colour word in the news is blackface.


This word refers to the dark-coloured make-up worn by white actors who are pretending to be black people. It derives from the vaudeville era in the United States when white singers and actors would sing songs from the period of slavery. It continued through to the 60’s and 70’s until people finally realised it was really rather racist. As a child I remember seeing a British TV series, The Black and White Minstrel Show with blackfaced actors crooning away to blonde maidens. It seemed so anachronistic as well as racist.

Now British TV has been forced to can a series featuring a white actor, joseph Fiennes, playing Michael Jackson following protests from the singer’s family. Although in the clip I saw, Fiennes still appeared white (as was Michael by the end), journalists have labeled it a case of blackfacing.