Shine bright like a diamond,

– Rihanna, 2012.

How do you feel about the adjective brilliant? It seems to be a bit divisive. Like the word awesome, there are those who feel that it’s cheapened by being used as a general adjective of quality, to indicate that something is very good.

I understand that point of view, and I’ve argued previously that sometimes a strong adjective is just too strong for the situation, and a nice simple adjective often works well. That being said, the sheer positivity of words like awesome and brilliant can be infectious.

And while brilliant is now firmly established as a synonym for great, this is actually a fairly recent development.

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Did you Watch Strictly at the Weekend?

No, I didn’t, sorry, I never watch it.

I’m referring here of course to popular BBC Saturday-evening dance programme Strictly Come Dancing (translated into American English as Dancing with the Stars). It’s often referred to simply as Strictly, but if you step back and think about it, isn’t that a little odd?

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How’s Trix?

Continuing a vague theme about gender in language, I want to look a little at the few gendered words we have in English.

I mentioned recently that actor/actress is still a distinction we often make. There’s waiter/waitress too. And that’s basically it.

There are some specifically female forms that have relatively recently fallen out of favour. Stewardess and manageress, for example. Generally though, we’ve been content to use gender-neutral terms.

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