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How to Sound Clever [Kindle Edition]

Hubert van den Bergh
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
Kindle Price: £6.83 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £2.16 (24%)
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Book Description

How to Sound Clever explains the etymology of 600 key words you really ought to know, but haven't had the time to look up in the dictionary. Each entry features an etymological description as well as useful example phrases so that readers can quickly see the correct context for each word. Anecdotes and witty illustrations appear throughout to make a book that is entertaining and will help the reader to boost their vocabulary. An ideal gift and a useful book for everyone have to hand when they come across a word you should know, but don't.Colin Dexter has described How to Sound Clever thus: ‘This admirable book is a wholly welcome antidote to the semi-demi-literacy of the 21st century. Go out and buy it!'

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Product Description


'This admirable book is a wholly welcome antidote to the semi-demi-literacy of the 21st century. Go out and buy it!' -- Colin Dexter

'Van den Bergh has produced a volume of words we all use, nod at and try to explain to other people - all with too little knowledge of their real meaning. It is time to claim back a semblance of literacy with this sublime lexicon.' -- The Field (December 2010)

'For the type of person who is always collecting new words from books, television programmes and even the internet, How to Sound Clever is both a vocabulary checklist and a source of fresh inspiration! An entertaining, addictive and, yes, instructive vocabulary top-up that will appeal to all amateur wordsmiths...quirky cartoons and etymological anecdotes lighten the experience somewhat, appealing to browsers and trivia buffs alike! Recommended as a desktop distraction or festive stocking filler for logophiles, How to Sound Clever has all the words you ever wanted to know, but were too lazy to look up!' --Reference Reviews

If you don t know what it means, don't use it. That's advice you might give to anyone who is linguistically limited but likes long you can just give them this book instead, which offers 600 words that sound as good as they mean, from 'abstruse'- hard to understand- to 'winnow'- to reduce the number until the best ones remain. The author was inspired to write the book after losing a business deal having misused the word 'salubrious' He thought it meant dirty. His point is that if you can't be trusted with your 'elementary units of communication' what can you be trusted with? And if you learned, say, 20 words a day, think how you might sound in a month. Euphonic? Didactic even? Or perhaps just cleverer than you did. --Katie Law, The Evening Standard

About the Author

Hubert van den Bergh has worked in the City for the past decade. A language enthusiast, he was awarded an academic scholarship from Oxford University, where he studied Modern Languages.
Follow Hubert on Twitter @soundclever.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1136 KB
  • Print Length: 225 pages
  • Publisher: A&C Black Business Information and Development (15 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408125099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408125090
  • ASIN: B004QMA292
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #104,360 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great icebreaker 14 Oct. 2010
I've always been insecure about some everyday words like `Luddite' and `egregious' and `invidious' - but the problem was I never got around to looking them up.
So I was delighted to discover this book which positively brims with all these words that were foxing me.
For example, I've read some of George Orwell's novels, but when someone described a situation as `Orwellian', I never knew exactly what this meant. It turns out the word doesn't refer to `Animal Farm' (as I thought it did) but exclusively to Orwell's novel `1984', and so `Orwellian' means `contrary to the well-being of a free society'. This is a classic case of thinking you know a word and so never looking up its exact meaning.
I did already know about 5% of the words in the book but language is such a subjective thing that I guess one book is never going to provide you with every single word you don't know.
And when I have friends over, this book inevitably gets spotted by someone and out it comes - it's a great icebreaker to pass around the table after a meal and get people to select a word and then see who knows the real meaning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book 3 May 2011
By Doog
I bought this book after reading the positive reviews on Amazon. I was a little perturbed by the some more negative appraisals but chose to take a punt. I am very pleased I did. The book is very enjoyable to pick up when a spare five minutes presents itself. I had heard of some of the words included previously but the majority of the words contained in the book were new to me. I really liked that the book also explained the origin of the words. I was concerned that the book would be a bit like reading a dictionary but the notes on word origins and the interesting, unusual nature of the words included meant that this was not the case. Prior to purchasing the book, I had considered my vocabulary to be better than average. This book has improved it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Sound Clever 24 Sept. 2010
How to Sound Clever is a celebration of the English language; after reading it, you will want to constantly dip back into the book and try out your new vocabulary. The author's enthusiasm for words is infectious, the narrative is filled with fascinating nuggets which have been painstakingly researched. The author's clever use of context, coupled with wonderful illustrations, enables the reader to see how to slip these words into conversation as well as memorise an expanding vocabulary. There is a contagious enthusiasm for the derivation of words, this book is a rich and rewarding read. Everyone should have a copy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to sound clever and negative ! 10 Dec. 2010
Excellent book to dip in and out of. Some words I already knew, but most were new and explained well, some in an amusing way and some with witty illustrations. Interestingly, a few of the words are not available in everyday dictionaries and thesuarus so I am still lacking confidence to use them. If someone reads a word you have written in a letter or essay etc and needs to find the meaning it isn't available so they might think you have made a mistake !
After using the book for a while I realised how most of the words chosen have a negative side to them, if you are looking for words to compliment or praise this is not the book for you.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Find 24 Sept. 2010
This book is a rare beast - it educates and it entertains. Words can be fascinating and we use/understand far too few of them, but most of us are too idle to open a dictionary. The author doesn't peddle in the arcane or the abstruse - he illuminates words with which we are all familiar but which we might not dare to use for fear of being ridiculed. How often do we amuse ourselves while we learn? This book cherishes not only words but its readers too.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words never sleep 24 Sept. 2010
Are you depressed by the bastardization of the English language into sloganized Grazia cliches and vacuous workplace vernacular ? Well, look no further as here is an effective cure for our verbal afflictions.
It will enable you to use our wonderful words with confidence and pride, elevate your W11 dinner party chat and generate impressed glances of admiration from across the table. 'How to' will also fascinate those that care about the origin of words and the evolution of their meaning.
Language is a constant work in progress - Mr Van den bergh is a brilliant and unvarnished guide for this eternal journey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars words 29 Oct. 2010
If you like using words to bring out the best in the way you express yourself
this book is for you.My only criticism is that more attention could have been provided to illustrate pronunciation and sentence construction with the word.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pre-Christmas pressie bed-time reading 12 Nov. 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read a review of this book, we could not wait all that time until Christmas so I bought a copy. Not only is it informative and gives you reassuringly smug feeling to confirm what you *think* you know, it's, importantly, also very humbling to find out what you actually don't!

It's an deal source to arm yourself with some Michael Caine 'Not a lot of people know this but...' tit-bits to entertain your family and friends at Christmas drinks parties - whether you'll have any afterwards is another matter!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great fun, to have a different word per day
Published 4 months ago by k
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Interesting but many words I know and some are just outlandish. You can finish the book very quickly
Published 4 months ago by James Staddon
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 7 months ago by matthew bridgwater
4.0 out of 5 stars good reference book
A good selection of words. It's just a coffee table reference book really. Fun to read. I hope to teach my daughter some words from it over the years to broaden her vocabulary.
Published 10 months ago by clara99
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was a great find. I've read many books about the use ...
This book was a great find.

I've read many books about the use of words in English, most of them are cluttered and hardly get to the point. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Paul Prifti
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good to pick up or study.
Published 11 months ago by C. M. White
5.0 out of 5 stars already reviewed
See review above. Look forward to reading Hubert va den Bergh's next book. Hope he writes a novel one day
Published 20 months ago by Mrs. Imogen M. Skirving
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Bought as a gift for my son, and he loves it. Full of fantastic, intelligent words that he is trying to put to use every day
Published on 13 Sept. 2013 by Decolady
4.0 out of 5 stars how to sound clever
I am really keen on the English language and so was intrigued by this book. It has many words that you think you know but maybe don't know their meaning. Read more
Published on 20 Jun. 2013 by babypink
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and engaging
How to Sound Clever is a jaunty romp through the groves of vocabulary, conducted with plenty of irony and wit, as the title would suggest. Read more
Published on 12 April 2013 by owl music
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