Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other Fascinating Facts About the English Language

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9780143038122: Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do with Pigs: And Other Fascinating Facts About the English Language

A delightfully addictive compendium of fascinating word facts that does for the dictionary what Eats, Shoots, and Leaves did for the manual of style

With the easy erudition and lively wit that have won her legions of fans, Canada’s "Word Lady" reveals the entertaining histories behind 500 of the most common words and phrases in the English language. Who knew that "travel" is derived from an instrument of torture? That "tragedy" originally had something to do with goats? That "glamour" and "grammar" started out as the same word? Katherine Barber’s captivating collection is organized by season, so readers can open to Valentine’s Day to learn about the origins of "passion fruit" or flip to Thanksgiving to find out why there aren’t any turkeys in Turkey. An irresistible blend of entertainment and enlightenment, this delightful book will captivate the word lover in all of us.

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About the Author:

The editor in chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and one of the world’s leading authorities on the English language, Katherine Barber is a recipient of the 1999 Canadian Booksellers Association’s Libris Award.

From Publishers Weekly:

Editor-in-chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and celebrated word nerd Barber has put together a suitably snappy compendium of word origins. Organized by seasons, this snore-free guide to etymology presents more than 500 paragraph-long histories on everything from sports terms to teen-speak to Yiddish. Curious minds will learn that the modern definition of "bidet" comes from the 1300s French verb "bider," meaning "to trot"; the bathroom fixture in the 1750s took the name because of the straddling action one performs while using it. The word "dunce" was derived from the name of a once-revered medieval theologian, John Duns Scotus, who fell out of favor; his disciples were called "Duns men" or "Dunses" for short. And who knew that the first recorded usage of the phrase "as if" was in Frank Morris's 1903 novel The Pit (" 'Maybe he'll come up and speak to us.' 'Oh, as if,' contradicted Laura. ")? No matter what word she puts under the microscope, Barber clearly takes its history seriously, but her light, witty descriptions make each discovery a pleasure. Ideal for dinner party discussions or bathroom reading.
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