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Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins [Hardcover]

William Morris , Mary Morris


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: HarperReference; 2nd Revised edition edition (Aug 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006015862X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060158620
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 16.1 x 23.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 777,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

A compendium of stories behind words and expressions we use every day.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As close to "The Definitive Reference" as you'll find 23 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book, but not true dictionary 17 July 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is an enjoyable read, with some phrases I have not found in other work phrase books (and I have about six such type books.) However, I think the title of the book has given this book and average rating among reviewers. Those expecting a comprehensive amount of word/phrase origins will be disappointed, but no fault of theirs, the book's title is misleading. The book's title should be something like "Interesting Word and Phrase Origins". It's also a little high-priced for what you get new, so definately get a used version.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm fascinated with this book.. 29 Nov 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the "funnest books" that I own. I keep it in the bathroom and, hence, refer to it daily. It provides a seemingly endless source of interesting facts and information, tracing the roots of words and phrases that you've been using all your life. Wonder where canape'/hors d'oeuvre or diggs/diggings or dingbat came from? How about snafu, foobar or oompah? What about stuff like "cuttin off your nose to spite your face," so you can "keep up with the Joneses?" If you take to this book like I have, you'll make it a present to your friends, as I have.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference for phrase origins 27 Aug 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Just a short comment: I own several reference books on phrase etymology. This is the best of the bunch.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Handy, but I've seen much better 29 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a budding linguist (by hobby not vocation) it's kind of fun to be able to cross-reference with other dictionaries of word origins. But if you are of limited funds or just want a better source, I'd definitely suggest you give this a miss and go for something by Ayto or Oxford.
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