The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
Gustave Flaubert

Thursday 4 July 2013


An expression the omission of which from my Dictionary was noted by the IPKat in his review of it. The word had recently cropped up in the Patents County Court, in Yell Ltd v Giboin & Ors [2011] EWPCC 9 (04 April 2011) (though the reviewer should I think have pointed out that this was after publication, making it difficult to accommodate). Although conceptually perhaps not dissimilar to 'nerd' (qv) and 'android' it arose in a quite different context, being introduced by a party rather than by the judge. It was applied by the first defendant (who represented himself and the other two defendants) to a witness of the claimants, no doubt hoping that HHJ Birss QC would discount the evidence of that witness, who having moved to Australia was not available to be cross-examined. The judge helpfully explained:
For those without the benefit of a Scottish education, a numpty is a derogatory expression referring to an ignorant stupid person.
Perhaps an alternative definition would be the sort of person who looks up 'numpty' in a dictionary. As I just did, in the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang, so I have disproved that possibility. Although as the meaning of the word no doubt includes an author who imagines that a friendly reviewer will necessarily find something positive to say about his work, perhaps I have actually proved nothing.

Lest you thought, dear reader, that 'numpty' might also be an appropriate word for someone who sets up a website at and uses the words YELLOW PAGES and the walking fingers logo (both registered trade marks of the claimants) and hopes to get away with it, let me direct you to the report of the Yell case mentioned above, where the defence focused on the fact that the defendants' activities were not carried out in the UK.

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