Allusionist 10: Election Lexicon


On the eve of the 2015 General Election in the UK, join me for a jaunt through the etymology of election-related words.

Find out why casting a vote should be more like basketball, how debating could descend into fisticuffs, and why polling is hairy.


  • Producer Matt and I went out in a high wind with a megaphone to record at the place for shouting about politics through a megaphone: Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. Here's a brief history of Speakers' Corner, where people have been blowing high wind through megaphones for more than a century.
  • For those who insist upon continuing to do their campaigning indoors, here's a potted history of lobbying in the US.
  • I only briefly mentioned the origins of the Tories' name: it has a very knotty history. Read more about that here.
  • Swingometer fans! Thanks to the BBC, here're some archive videos and pictures of swingometers through history.
  • Here is the transcript of this episode.


This episode is sponsored by Tasting Room. To order the Tasting Room starter pack of wine samples for the special price of $6.95, visit Unfortunately this offer is only open to listeners in the USA, so we Brits will have to find some other booze to get us through the election.

You've got until 15th May to voice your opinions about podcasts (and be in with a chance to win posh Tivoli headphones) in the Radiotopia listener survey. Fill it out at; thanks very much if you've already done so.

See you in a fortnight, unless etymologocracy wins the day and I'm too drunk on power to make this show.

- HZ


So goddamn windy that day. The campaign trail is more challenging than I had expected.

The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.