Mea Culpa: heavy animals trampling parts of north London

In an article about the changing electorate in outer London, we referred to Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency, Chingford and Woodford Green, as “once Lord Tebbit’s stamping ground”. I think I prefer “stamping ground” to the more predictable “stomping ground”.

Having consulted the Word Detective website, “stamping ground” was the original usage, first recorded in 1821, to refer to places where larger animals would gather and trample the vegetation. “Stomping ground”, an American variation, appeared in 1854. But as “stamp” rather than “stomp” is the usual British English, there is no reason we shouldn’t use it instead.

In parentheses: We used a lot of brackets in an article about the campaign to keep a medieval walrus-tusk ivory sculpture in the UK. As Roger Thetford pointed out, there were four pairs in this single sentence: “The available evidence suggests that the sculpture (prior to the Reformation, part of a spectacular series of scenes from Christ’s passion) was probably housed, for much of the Middle Ages, in one of the chantry chapels (or other locations) inside the parish church (now a cathedral) in the Yorkshire town of Wakefield, or perhaps even in one of Wakefield’s four independent chantry chapels (only one of which still exists).”

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