Notion



Notions make up a highly specialised form of slang used by pupils at Winchester College. An individual slang word or expression is known as a notion. The number of notions officially in use declines each year, with around 200 notions currently included in the official Notions book sent to New Men. Some of the same words are used at other schools, in particular Eton and Charterhouse (e.g. both schools use “div”, though with extended meanings), though there they are not referred to as “notions”. A Wykehamist may however speak (e.g.) of “an Eton notion” or “an Oxford notion” in describing the vocabulary or traditions of another institution. Notion also has a broader definition as “a manner or tradition peculiar to Winchester College”. Hence the activity Morning Hills, when the whole school gets up early in the morning to meet on the top of St. Catherine’s Hill, a nearby hill belonging to the college, can also be referred to as a notion. A personal notion is a personal right or privilege. For example, it is a “notion” of the Prefect of Hall (head boy) to be carried into class in bed. An academic notion is one with no significance except as a question to be asked at notions examinā. A bad notion is a solecism: either a non-notional mode of speech or action where a notion is expected, or an attempt at a notion that misfires. A purported notion not accepted as historically authentic may be described as spurious. More modern and ephemeral forms of school slang, mostly taking the form of modification of vowels for ironic effect, are also sometimes referred to as “notions”.

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He has written for Den of Geek, Fortean Times, IT PRO, PC Pro, ALPHR, and many other technology sites. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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