A New Devil's DictionaryA New Devil’s Dictionary aims to supply a disrespectful guide to the agenda that all too often lurks behind contemporary buzzwords, phrases or slogans. In a conventional dictionary, you will find definitions, of course, but they do not always tell you everything you could profitably learn, and probably need to know, about the ever-expanding number of loaded formulations. For example, words like “progressive,” “nativist” or “journey,” which have been hijacked for use as “virtue-signalling.” In the financial world, “incentive,” “benchmark”, “bonus,” “securitisation” or “financial engineering” imply aspects of a world where insiders relieve gullible outsiders of their money to overpay managers or overcharge customers. Politics, academe, business and journalism are constantly coming up with new forms of evasion, exaggeration, and disingenuousness. Accordingly, this lexicon for contrarians seeks to offer an Ariadne’s thread through the maze of contemporary public discourse, and to probe the reality behind the innocent verbal façade. There are in addition some possibly useful new words or phrases (e.g. “apocaholics,” “bankster,” “bunny-boiler” or “fraudit”) to which a respectable dictionary has yet to give authoritative status. Also featured are heroes and villains whose mots have enriched or impoverished our understanding over the years: they range from Theophrastus in the Ancient World to contemporary counterintuitive phrasemakers like Yogi Berra or foot-in-mouth expert Dan Quayle. Finally, there are quite a lot of jokes designed to stave off indignation fatigue in the reader; also to remind tyrants, crooks and officious jobsworths (and even ourselves) that not being taken as seriously as they take themselves is by far the most effective form of retribution for those who are trying to sell us false goods.

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