Though I own probably a dozen books on origins of words and phrases, this is usually the first I turn to, and often the last. If I had to discard all but one, there is no question I would choose this one. Not only only is the sheer quantity of definitions impressive, but so is the scholarship that backs up the entries. When an authoritative etymology is not available, or there are conflicting theories, the authors are up front and tell you so. Refusing to just pass on an oft-repeated tale, the authors know enough to provide citations to support or disprove a theory of word or phrase origin. Yet not once are they dry and pedantic; they're good story-tellers as well.