CODON - a sequence of three adjacent bases on a DNA strand; a trumpet's flaring mouth; a hand-bell used to summon monks [Code-on for meaning 1; and codon - mediaeval Latin for handbell - for meanings 2 & 3] Monastery crypts may hold the codon of the original codon-ringer.
ALGOSPEAK - coded language - where sex is seggs, say - used on social media in order to sidestep moderation systems [Short for algorithm-speak]. Suicide in algospeak is unalive - as a verb - to keep platform alerts quiet.
SPHEXISH [SFEX-ish] - wasp-like; fixed in one's behaviour. [From Greek sphex, sand wasp. Coined in 1982 by US scientist and literary scholar, observing the robot-like determinism of the solitary digger wasp.] Those held hostage by their own instincts are deemed to be sphexish.
BARANI - an aerial front flip followed by a half-twist, or 180-degree turn; also called a BARANI FLIP. [Named after Italian acrobat, Alfonso Barani who performed the trick in 1881.] The barani is a dazzling staple of circus, snowboarding and trampoline routines.
TRUNNION - a cannon's mounting, allowing the weapon to pivot or adjust its elevation. [From Old French, trognon - or trunk, stump.] Without its trunnion, a cannon would only serve if the target matched the muzzle's direction and angle.
SPREZZATURA - the art of doing a difficult task with effortless grace. [Italian for 'nonchalance', a quality popularised in the 1520s by diplomat, Baldassare Castiglione, seen here in Raphael's portrait.] More recently, sprezzatura has been aligned with the carefree flow of masterful artwork.
FILEMOT [FILL-eh-mo] - dull or yellowish brown [Anglicised version of French feuillemorte - a dead leaf] Autumn is a hymn to the filemot spectrum.
CANARY TRAP - ruse designed to expose an informer, whereby suspected leaks are supplied differing information [Popularised by Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels - also called the barium meal test.] Language use as much as particular data are integral to the canary trap.
PATAGIUM - translucent membrane extending between a bat's or sugar gliders forelimbs to create the mammal's wing [From Latin: the edging of a woman's tunic.] The fruit bat would go 'splat' without its trusty patagium.
CACAFUEGO [kar-kar-FWAY-go] - braggart; volatile person prone to outburst [From Spanish, literally one who shits fire, from cagar to defecate + fuego fire.] Gordon Ramsay in the Hell's Kitchen series is a classic cacafuego.
YEALM - to prepare straw for thatching; a straw bundle ready for the cottage roof [Old English - also yelm - via gelm, or handful.] Thatchers must tamp each yealm tightly to keep a cottage rainproof.
DOLCE FAR NIENTE [doll-CHAY fah nee-ENT-ay] - the pleasure of doing nothing [Literal translation of Italian] Leisure allows for the option of active recreation, or dolce far niente.
GISH GALLOP - rhetorical device where a person swamps their opponent in uncited evidence with no regard for veracity. [Coined by anthropologist Eugenie Scott after US creationist Duane Gish] President You-Know-Who was a virtuoso of the Gish gallop.
HELLSCAPE - any infernal environment, typically the result of disaster or devastation. [Hell + scape] As global crises multiply, from climate shifts to the Crimean conflict, the Oxford Dictionary chose to register hellscape as a key intake for 2023.
ELOZABLE [eh-LOH-zah-behl] - susceptible to flattery [From French eloge - praise or eulogy] Sales staff across the industry can spot an elozable customer.
ABJAD - any writing system - such as Arabic - where only consonants, or consonantal phonemes, are depicted, leaving vowel sounds to be inferred by readers. [The word is based on the Arabic alphabet's first four letters, corresponding to a, b, j and d]. PRN, perhaps, in the abjad mode, may denote APRON, PERONI or PARANOIA.
SCORP - woodworking tool used for roughing out hollows in such items as bowls and chairs. [Etymology uncertain. Perhaps an allusion to a scorpion's upright tail.] Bush furniture artisans are scorp-reliant.
OVCHARKA [ov-CHAR-kah] - massive Russian sheepdog, weighing up to 70kg, used as guard dog for livestock and property, as well as bear-hunting [Lit. Russian: shepherd dog] With thick fur, barrel frame and powerful jaw, the Caucasian ovcharka might well be mistaken for a bear.
UTAH TEAPOT - virtual ceramic vessel helping to gauge a computer program's 3D fidelity; a Newell teapot [After Utah Uni, 1975, where Martin Newell - a computer graphics researcher - selected the utensil for its curved base and sheen.] Look twice, and you may discern a Utah teapot in many 3-D programs as a coder's in-joke.
AUXESIS [og-ZEE-sis] - rhetorical phrase of mounting intensity; hyperbole; overstatement [From Greek auxesis (growth), via auxein, to increase] To call a political opponent as "inexperienced, ill-suited, inept and irresponsible" is an example of auxesis - and alliteration.