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The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins (Writers Reference) Hardcover – 15 Dec 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 948 pages
  • Publisher: Facts On File Inc; 4th Revised edition edition (15 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816069662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816069668
  • Product Dimensions: 27.9 x 22.1 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,101,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

"A feast for phrase detectives...that will enliven debates and illuminate issues." - William Safire "...diverse...highly readable...Highly recommended." - Choice"

About the Author

Robert Hendrickson is the author of more than 25 books, including The Facts On File Dictionary of American Regionalisms for Facts On File. He lives in Peconic, New York.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Sept. 1997
Format: Hardcover
Whether you are a died-in-the-wool word nut, or
just a reader intrigued by a colorful expression,
this is a work of endless fascination

Over 9,000 words and phrases are covered, from A to
Zzz, of slang, proverbs, animal and plant names,
nicknames of people, places, and things, historical
and political expressions, foreign-language terms,
literary allusions, and perhaps best of all, many
references to Classical figures and usages of our
common Western heritage.

Hendrickson regards this as a work-in-progress, and
indeed, there are omissions (smarmy, paddy wagon,
all hat and no cattle), and errors. (There certainly
was a marijuana variety called Acapulco Gold, "antsy"
was in use by the early 1960's, and this reviewer
can demonstrate conclusively that armadillos can
survive nicely north of Texas.) These are quibbles,
however, and do not detract seriously from the merit
and sheer usefulness of Hendrickson's work.

Recommended for the permanent bookshelf of lovers
of the language and students of the culture.

(The numerical rating above is a default setting
within Amazon's format. This reviewer does not
employ numerical ratings.)
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
One of the only reference books that can be read from cover to cover for pure reading pleasure. A fine read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 23 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Fine reference. 14 Sept. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Whether you are a died-in-the-wool word nut, or
just a reader intrigued by a colorful expression,
this is a work of endless fascination

Over 9,000 words and phrases are covered, from A to
Zzz, of slang, proverbs, animal and plant names,
nicknames of people, places, and things, historical
and political expressions, foreign-language terms,
literary allusions, and perhaps best of all, many
references to Classical figures and usages of our
common Western heritage.

Hendrickson regards this as a work-in-progress, and
indeed, there are omissions (smarmy, paddy wagon,
all hat and no cattle), and errors. (There certainly
was a marijuana variety called Acapulco Gold, "antsy"
was in use by the early 1960's, and this reviewer
can demonstrate conclusively that armadillos can
survive nicely north of Texas.) These are quibbles,
however, and do not detract seriously from the merit
and sheer usefulness of Hendrickson's work.

Recommended for the permanent bookshelf of lovers
of the language and students of the culture.

(The numerical rating above is a default setting
within Amazon's format. This reviewer does not
employ numerical ratings.)
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Excellent book of reference and enjoyment 2 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
One of the only reference books that can be read from cover to cover for pure reading pleasure. A fine read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Wasn't what I was looking for 28 Jan. 2013
By Homer J. Hall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was trying to find an encyclopedia of interesting phrases like, "Fell by the way side." This book doesn't have most of that kind of phrases and includes unknown or rarely used stuff that did not interest me.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not a good reference tool 31 Mar. 2008
By Heath - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is interesting if you just want to read through and learn some interesting facts about word origins. It's not been a good resource for me for looking up meanings.

I've tried to use it as I would use a dictionary. When I hear a phrase, I often wonder what it means. Just this morning I wanted to look up "anchor to the wind". I was pretty sure I wouldn't find it. I didn't. I did learn that the "ch" in the middle of the word anchor is confusing, and that it was added in error. That's interesting to know, but not helpful for learning the meaning of a phrase I've heard used.

I can't remember previous examples that I've looked up, but my impression is that most time that I try to look something up, I can't find it. I don't know of a better book to recommend as a reference, but I do know that I've been disappointed with this book for that purpose.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Intrigue! 24 July 2007
By Audrey L. Sargeant - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The intrigue arises because I cannot pick up this book without getting caught up in something on every page. It's truly fascinating and I'm reading about things that I never even knew I was interested in!
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