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Feb 18, 2010
This week's theme
Words with London connections

This week's words
billingsgate
Star Chamber
Fleet Street
Grub Street
bedlam

Grub Street
to Fleet Street in 5 min. Grub Street to Fleet Street
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Grub Street

PRONUNCIATION:
(grub street)

MEANING:
noun: The world of impoverished journalists and literary hacks.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Grub Street in London where such writers lived.

NOTES:
In 17th century London, Grub Street near Moorfields was the place to find impoverished writers. Even though this street was renamed Milton Street in 1830, the world of hack writers is still known as Grub Street.

The inhabitants of this now metaphorical place churn out words without any regard for their literary merit. They were often called penny-a-liners. A Grub Street writer is also called a hack writer, which is another London allusion: Hackney in East London, was the place where horses suitable for routine riding or driving were raised. The word hack, in related senses, is a short form of hackney.

As any writer would tell you, publishing is a long and slow journey, but according to Google Maps it's only five minutes from Grub Street to Fleet Street.

USAGE:
"To succeed in journalism, the late Nicholas Tomalin once wrote, you need three qualities: 'a ratlike cunning, a plausible manner, and a little literary ability'. ... There are still some aspects of the Grub Street trade that can be learnt with a little application."
Stephen Jones; Times Educational Supplement; Nightmare on Grub Street; Sep 14, 2007.

See more usage examples of Grub Street in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
No man is a hero to his valet. -Madame Cornuel, wit, society hostess (1605-1694)

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