As a professional quiz writer this book has become my first choice for reference. If you like me have ever wondered where the meaning of certain words come from then this book is a must. Clear and concise, you will not be disappointed.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great For Word-Clearing31 Aug. 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
Since buying this book I use it continually to get a real conceptual understanding. Its derivations are vastly better than most dictionaries and written in simple English with almost no symbols. Yesterday I used it to clear the derivation of "manifest" as in "manifestation of the misunderstood word" and the room brightened up. Some other really good derivations were "mandarin" and "daughter". Recommend it thoroughly as a study and word-clearing tool. ARC, Simon
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A veritable lexicon of delicious words14 Feb. 2010
Judy K. Polhemus
- Published on Amazon.com
In boxing books from two bookcases in my guest bedroom, I am re-discovering books I haven't used in ages, then recovering from the discovery enough to write reviews of these almost-forgotten gems. Up first is "Arcade Dictionary of Word Origins: The Histories of More Than 8000 English-Language Words" by John Ayto.
I love etymologies! In fact, I loved the ancient mysteries and histories of words so much that I was willing to haul all my etymology books from home to school where I would teach a unit on word histories in my senior English classes. Even if those young people on-the-verge-of-becoming-adults didn't love etymologies, too, that was OK with me, as long as they understood our human connectedness in language development.
Our language, English, in fact, is a conglomeration of three distinct languages: Latin, French, and German, or the language of the Roman Catholic Church, the Norman (French/Viking/Latin) Conquest of England, and the immigration of Old Germanic peoples--Angles, Jutes, and Saxons from the Denmark and North Germanic area of Europe. Ayton's explanation of the contributions of each people and language in creating the English language is worth the price of the book.
But, of course, the real reason for the book is its etymologies and my reason for obtaining it. I also must note that I rarely bought a reference book that I didn't use in my teaching. I would gather enough from my personal library and the school library to distribute to students, usually two per book, for a hands-on lesson in word histories.
At random here are a few curiosities: "caviare"--origin is Turkish from "khavyar'; it spread from Turkish to a number of European languages, including Italian "caviale" and the French "caviar"; the oddity is that although the word refers to a Russian delicacy, the Russian word is "ikra."
"otter"--or water-animal; originally "udros" or Indo-European, source also of "hudra" or water-snake with the best example of Hydra, or the many-headed Hydra killed by Hercules. Remember this also referred to water. In German the descendant word was "otraz" which became "otter."
"prophylactic" comes from the Greek "prophulaktikos"--literally meant "keep guard in front of a place or "take precautions against." Most amusing.
Closer to my life's work as an English teacher is "prose"-- its etymology refers to a "straight-forward discourse" and comes from the Old French "prose" from Latin "prosa." Now there's one that is straight-forward!