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Kick the Bucket and Swing the Cat: The complete Balderdash & Piffle collection of English Words, and Their Curious Origins Paperback – 6 Nov 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (6 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846076102
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846076107
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"It was fun, instructive and will appeal to the scholarly in all of us. I see no earthly reason why it should not, as it used to say on theatre posters, run and run" (Peter Paterson Daily Mail)

"Fascinating" (The Times)

"It's the kind of show that sticks a boot up the posterior of those who claim the BBC is only interested in dumbing down pap these days" (Dominik Diamond Daily Star)

Book Description

English words and phrases, and their curious origins

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr M P Sloan on 6 Dec. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Found it a great read, just hope I do not bore my friends with , "ah, do you know where that word comes from." Also a good book if you enjoy history.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Bland on 26 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to buy copies of this for my relatives as I could not part with my own. The history of our language is fascinating, I just had to share it with fellow pedants.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
This book seems to have two purposes. The first is to explain the origins of a word or phrase, and these are often (but by no means always) surprising as their spelling or meaning changes over time.

The second, when the origin is pretty obvious, is to try to track down the first time a word or phrase appeared in written form. This of course doesn’t mean that the word may not have been used in speech long before that: over and over again I was surprised, seeming to have known a word from my youth (I will be ninety this year), how more recent the first appearance in print of some expressions is. Tracking down the first written appearance is of interest to the compilers of some dictionaries, but, I would have thought, is not particularly interesting to many readers. But there I am obviously wrong. The book is based on two television series in 2006 and 2007 called “Balderdash and Piffle”, in which viewers were asked whether they could find earlier examples than those so far given in the big Oxford English Dictionary to certain words. Some 6,000 emails were sent in! As a result the editors of the OED revised 79 of its entries, and the epilogue of this book is about these.

The text is sometimes jocose and itself playing on words.

The first chapter of Part One shows how the English language adapted (and often later altered) words from the various peoples (Angles, Vikings, Normans) who invaded Britain; then it goes on to show the contribution made by Chaucer.

The second and third chapter go into details about the compilation of dictionaries, from Dr Johnson’s to the online Oxford English dictionary. The fourth chapter tells us what modern English owes to the Bible and to Shakespeare.
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By Music Lover on 18 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A amazing bool of trivia
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. L. McGrath on 10 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a gift for a family member so although I have not personally read it they are delighted with it
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