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Foyle's Philavery: A Treasury of Unusual Words Hardcover – 27 Jul 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chambers; Reprint edition (27 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0550103295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0550103291
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 14.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

I happen to be one of those people who love these kinds of books, though unfortunately they frequently get lost in the mélange of frippery that is located around the checkout counter at better bookstores. Anyway, Foyle, who happens to own such a bookstore in London, has collected a fair-sized book's worth of odd and distinctive words, his favourite of which is "kakistocracy, a system of government where the rulers are the least competent, least qualified or most unprincipled citizens"--a word we ought to use more frequently. (The Morning News Book Digest)

I have found many surprises in the Philavery - I didn't know that alopecia literally means fox mange! (Roddy Lumsden's Blog, www.booksfromscotland.com)

Book Description

A treasury of unusual words

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Nov 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is great fun for those who are interested in unusual words, even though there is, I think, a slight padding out. By my reckoning at least, some ten words out of the 105 listed here beginning with the letter A are not really all that unusual. But this must be a somewhat subjective judgment. Some 73 of the words under A I had never come across, and that's a pretty good score for this beautifully produced book. Would make a lovely present for a philaveryphile!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. M. R. Parrott on 15 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a really good book, full of obscure and fascinating words. Its also fun and a useful tool in getting reluctant readers to enjoy the power of words, it has been an excellent incentive in my family just by inserting one of the words in a text message knowing that the younger elements of the family will go and look it up in the Foyles. Wouldn't be without it now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Aug 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love unusual words, and this (and its follow up Foyle's Further Philavery) is the kind of book I would expect to love. However it falls short of that for me. Some of the words are not really that unusual and an educated person would probably know, but the much bigger issue for me is that I would like to see more words which you might have a finite chance of actually using in a lifetime, rather than simply words you might only ever have a chance of using in a game of Scrabble. Examples: piki - a bread made from maize meal by the Hopi Indians of the South Western USA; galliard - a lively dance in triple time for couples, popular in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Funnily enough, Foyle says in his introduction that his mother-in-law coined the word "philavery" whilst the two of them were playing Scrabble, which is perhaps a bit of a giveaway.

I far more enjoyed the witty Superior Person's Book of Words series of books to these.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth N. Bladon on 5 Nov 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was given "Foyle's further Philavery" and "My Philavery" for my recent birthday, so I wanted this volume to complete the set. Not a book for everyone, it is a collection of less-familiar English words which might come in useful - or might not!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Katie J. Down on 17 Mar 2008
Format: Hardcover
When I saw this advertised, I felt slightly ashamed that I had no idea what a `philavery' was.... It turns out I needn't have worried: the word was invented specifically to describe this book: "Philavery /fil-a-vuh-ri/ n. an idiosyncratic collection of uncommon and pleasing words."

The book is the result of years of word collecting by the author, Christopher Foyle, chairman of the famous Foyles bookshop in London. The `uncommoness' of the words included in the volume is defined by Foyle; as such many words in the philavery are familiar to me. Indeed, he states in the introduction that the US commander of the first Gulf War described information with little value as "bovine scatology". The author admits he had to refer to a dictionary to discover the meaning of scatology, which surprised me as I would not personally consider it an unusual word. The same goes for fabiform, exsanguinate, factitious, chino and countless more. Some words, such as `halcyon', were included not because they are particularly unfamiliar, but because of their fascinating etymologies.

In all, this would make a great gift with its attractive design and quality of production. And whilst the criteria for inclusion in the philavery seems somewhat spurious, and certainly subjective, this is a 230-page book full of obscure, quirky, fun, poignant words, so even if you know some of them already, there is still plenty to delight and inform word lovers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a collection unusual words, all of them genuine, most of them not in common use but asking to be dropped into a conversation or e-mail. Readers will know some of them, but not too many I suspect. Flipping through it I discovered, for instance, that I am a ruptuary (though not a rube) and am also – appropriately enough – somewhat palinoiac. The Philavery is a “loo book”, one that you dip into when you have a minute or two rather than try to read cover to cover. It’s fascinating and it’s fun.
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