word of the week – ‘stealth’ (stɛlθ).

It’s a strange time for luxury brands. Of course they want to be seen out and about as usual, but flaunting it too brazenly could be deemed bad taste in these straitened times. Hence the notion of ‘stealth wealth’, a phrase I came across for the first time this week working for (you guessed it) a luxury brand.

It’s the idea that you’re so utterly comfortable in your millionaire skin that you’re happy to draw a discreet veil over what you’re worth. With your mahogany tan and slightly grizzled sideburns, you dress down in pastel polo shirt, pressed chinos and artfully distressed deck shoes. You may eschew San Tropez, Costa Smeralda, and the other more flashy-trashy Euro hotspots, but you still find a way to quietly enjoy the finer things in life.

Above: Plane sailing... may you be stealthy, weathly and wise

Oddly, the word ‘stealth’ also cropped up on BBC2’s ‘Stargazing Live’, the astronomy programme fronted by the rather unlikely double act of pop-star-turned-professor Brian Cox and physicist-turned-comedian Dara O’Briain. Cox observed that UFO sightings suddenly changed from the traditional flying-saucer shape to triangular after the US military’s introduction of the Stealth Bomber in 1997. But I was probably more intrigued by the thought that they might actually have a Pentagon employee responsible for naming. Or perhaps they draft in the Central Naming Agency (CNA)? Whatever, hat’s off... it’s brilliant.There’s something wonderfully onomatopoeic and sneaky about the word. It’s redolent of underhandedness and skulduggery. Maybe it’s because the first five letters spell ‘steal’, and you almost seem to be telling someone to ‘shhh!’ when you say it.Well, probably time to make a stealthy exit.

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