How weird that the day after my last post I should stumble upon a news story in The Guardian Science blog about an Australian scientist who has successfully challenged the Oxford English Dictionary over its definition of the word ‘siphon’.
It seems while preparing an article on siphoning Dr Stephen Hughes, a physics lecturer at Queensland University of Technology, realised that the dictionary definition was wrong as it stated that atmospheric pressure rather than gravity forces liquid through a siphon tube. When Dr Hughes pointed this out to the OED, they admitted that he was the first person to point out the error (the entry dates from 1911) and will now be revising the text using some of his ‘helpful comments’ in the next edition.
What’s so lovely about this is that the word siphon appears in a well-known piece of Australian slang. To ‘siphon the python’ means to urinate.