The UK, according to the latest polling, is now chiefly a Remain country. At the opposite end of Brexit spectrum, this week a handful of prominent Leavers performed a swift volte-face and decided to throw their full support behind Prime Minister Theresa May’s contentious Brexit deal.

All that makes the obscure but eminently useful word mentimutation a prime candidate for our inaugural Word of the Week.

Coined in 1650, by English-American pamphleteer Nathaniel Ward, mentimutation is built from the same Latin root as words like mental and mentality (namely Latin mens, ‘mind’), attached somewhat inelegantly to the noun mutation – here used in its earliest and weakest sense of merely ‘a change’ or ‘an alteration’.

Happily, Ward had the foresight not only to coin the mentimutation but also rementimutation (which we can presume refers to a repeated or renewed change of mind), as well as the criminally underused adjective versipellous (meaning ‘changeable’, or ‘having a form that appears to change often’).

And given how swiftly at least one prominent ERGer has abandoned his newly found admiration for Mrs May’s deal, either one of those could have made an equally appropriate choice this week too.

New to Byline Times? Find out more about us


A new type of newspaper – independent, fearless, outside the system. Fund a better media.

Don’t miss a story…

Our leading investigations include: empire & the culture warBrexit, crony contractsRussian interferencethe Coronavirus pandemicdemocracy in danger, and the crisis in British journalism. We also introduce new voices of colour in Our Lives Matter.

More stories filed under Culture

Putin at War: Claiming De-Nazification, Reviving Antisemitism

, 11 May 2022
The Russian President’s Victory Day Speech and his Foreign Minister’s comments suggest of a fully-fledged antisemitic ideology is rearing its head in Russia

Barriers, Ignorance... And More Barriers: The Every Day Experiences of Disabled People

, 29 April 2022
Society and politicians need to wake-up to the fact that disability is a normal part of the human condition that can impact us all, says Penny Pepper

The Upside Down: Where Is the Man? The Many Lives of Pontius Pilate

, 14 April 2022
John Mitchinson explores the enduring fascination with the man who was asked to send Jesus to his death

More from the Byline Family