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Page last updated at 05:40 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 06:40 UK
The power of words

Verbal dexterity

Children are to be given lessons in speaking "formally" following concerns that their language skills are deficient. Most adults know about 50,000 words, experts say. Test yourself on our vocabulary quiz...


1.) Governing body

Nomocracy is a government based on...

Parthenon in Athens
  1. The rule of law
  2. The rule of numbers
  3. The rule of a king or queen

2.) Propulsion? Compulsion?

If you coerce someone you are...

Hand on mouth
  1. trying to kiss or cuddle them
  2. trying to compel or restrain them
  3. fining them

3.) The O word

She found herself * between the two options.

  1. ossifying
  2. oscillating
  3. opalescent

4.) Which country?

English has borrowed words from many different languages. Where does the word pikau come from?

  1. Canada
  2. India
  3. New Zealand

5.) Four letter word

The word scut means...

  1. get out of here
  2. the short tail of animals such as a deer and rabbit
  3. a unit of currency, just less than a shilling

6.) It's all Greek to me

Which of these words has its roots in Greek?

Scrabble tiles
  1. spine
  2. abyss
  3. habit


  1. The rule of law. The word comes from the Greek nomos meaning law or custom.
  2. Compelling or restraining. A coercimeter is an instrument used for measurement of coercive force.
  3. Oscillating comes from the Latin oscillare - to swing.
  4. From New Zealand, pikau means a pack, knapsack or rucksack, from the Maori.
  5. Collins English Dictionary says a scut (the short tail of an animal) is probably of Scandinavian origin.
  6. Spine is from the Latin spina, meaning thorn or backbone. Habit is from the Latin habitus, meaning custom. Abyss comes from the Greek abussos, meaning bottomless.

Your Score

0 - 1 : Tongue tied

2 - 4 : Smooth talker

5 - 6 : Gift of the gab

The words in the mental cupboard
Tuesday, 28 April 2009, 10:42 GMT |  Magazine
The man who reads dictionaries
Tuesday, 7 October 2008, 23:03 GMT |  Magazine


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