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The big chill

The term "chilling" seems to be invariably used by journalists whenever they hope that something they are reporting will create fear in the reader. Sometimes it leads to absurdity. Yesterday's Independent had a piece about global warming, saying that it was going to be worse than forecast and was likely to be at least 6 degrees. This was said to be "chilling". If it were, we'd have nothing to worry about.

As the poet and critic F.L. Lucas wrote more than 50 years ago, "Really dead metaphors, like really dead nettles, cannot sting; but often the metaphors are only half dead; and these need careful handling."

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