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Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas: Popular Expressions - What They Mean and Where We Got Them

Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas: Popular Expressions - What They Mean and Where We Got Them [Kindle Edition]

Judy Parkinson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £5.99
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Product Description


If you'd like to know the origins of some of our most baffling phrases, take a look at this (Daily Express)

Provides a wealth of fascinating facts about the meaning and origin of phrases we use every day... With every page guaranteed to entertain and inform, this is really is the bee's knees when it comes to the perfect gift! (Lancashire Evening Post)

Reveals the origins and meanings of some of the most popular and obscure sayings we use today (Daily Mirror)

Product Description

How on earth did 'with bells on' come to express enthusiasm? Why is good health compared to a small stringed instrument? ('As fit as a fiddle.') And what do pickles have to do with quandaries? Let's not beat about the bush: despite the fact that we have all used these phrases at one time or another, and even enjoyed expressing them, they are in truth - when you take a moment to consider them - completely senseless and utterly fantastical. We all know what somebody means when they use these phrases due to our common knowledge of them, but it wouldn't be surprising if, when asked to explain them, you found that the cat had got your tongue, or you simply clammed up! "Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas" provides us with the meanings to these well-worn and much-loved phrases by putting these linguistic quirks in context, and explaining how and why they were first used.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 796 KB
  • Print Length: 193 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1782430113
  • Publisher: Michael O' Mara Books (17 Feb 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004OA63N0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #95,402 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Judy Parkinson is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller 'I before E (Except after C)', which has been featured everywhere from the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme to questions asked on University Challenge. She is also the author of 'Remember, Remember the Fifth of November: The History of Britain in Bite-sized Chunks' and 'Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas: Popular Expressions - What They Mean and Where We Got Them'. Judy has appeared on national radio and across the media talking about her books.

Judy has worked as a journalist, and has interviewed many public figures about their school days for the Times Educational Supplement and the Daily Telegraph. She lives in London and also works as a television producer making educational documentaries for Teachers TV. She has produced numerous music videos and television commercials.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at the English language 23 Jan 2011
My sister gave me this pretty little book for Christmas, which was great because it's not the type of book I would usually think about buying for myself. The title might leave you wondering exactly what this book is about, but the subtitle helps to explain: Popular Expressions - What They Mean and Where We Got Them.

The book looks at some of the well-known phrases and proverbs which appear in the English language and explains what they mean and how they originated. Do you know what 'to shoot the moon' means, for example, or why we give someone 'the third degree'? Why do we 'steal someone else's thunder' and why do we 'go to the Land of Nod' when we fall asleep?

The phrases appear in alphabetical order. I was a bit disappointed by some of the entries which are little more than a straight definition of the phrase or proverb, but the majority were interesting and I learned a lot of fascinating little facts. Some of them such as 'ballpark figure' and 'take a rain check' have American origins. Others stem from Ancient Greece or Rome. There are others that come from the Bible, some that are derived from Aesop's fables and some that were made famous by Shakespeare. A few of the phrases have no definite origins and in these cases the author tells us that the definitions she's providing are merely speculation.

This is not really a book you would read from cover to cover in one sitting; it's perfect for dipping in and out, reading a few entries at a time. It's strangely addictive though as the entries are temptingly short (usually no more than two or three paragraphs). I'd recommend it to anyone with a love for the English language. It's a perfect book to buy as a gift too, as it even has a special page at the front where you can write your 'to' and 'from'!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I have been looking for a book like this for years.
Everytime I have heard an expression I have wondered why and where it came from. Now I know and I keep this book at my fingertips now so if anyone asks me where it came from I can refer to the book. For example I always wondered what "swinging the lead" was and what did it mean and where did it come from.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag 24 Dec 2009
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
On the inside cover is printed `A gift for ... from...', suggesting that this attractively produced book, humorously illustrated by Louise Morgan, is intended to be a stocking-filler, so perhaps we shouldn't be too critical of it. The subtitle is `Popular Expressions - What They Mean and Where We Got Them'. `What They Mean' is almost always pretty obvious - otherwise they would hardly be popular. A fairly high proportion of the explanations of `Where We Got Them' will surely not be needed for someone who has a reasonable acquaintance with the Bible (to cast pearls before swine), Aesop's fables (sour grapes), Greek legends (the sword of Damocles), sailing (walking the plank). However, there are certainly some entries (cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey) whose intriguing origin few people would know. As this is the third edition of a book whose earlier ones were under different titles, it has obviously been a good seller. And it is a good deal handier and more up-to-date than Brewer's massive `Dictionary of Phrase and Fable'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a good idea for christmas 2 Dec 2013
By conoraf
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
an insight into common expressions explained very well.A must for all lovers of english or for english teachers working broad
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT READ 4 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A dip in and out book. Driving others mad by saying, oh ludten to this as you discover something new.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INTERESTING 30 Sep 2013
By suzeg
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I always wondered where different sayings come from. Now all I have to do is look in this book, to find out,good
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable 23 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brilliant and funny, explaining the meaning and provenance of some expressions of everyday use in a simple, affordable way. Very enjoyable
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What we say why we do 4 July 2010
A book that sets out to explain the origin of sayings. What they mean and why we say them.

For example, something being 'under the counter' stems from the second world war when tradesmen would keep extra supples of goods that were not on the ration, that they could sell to customers for inflated prices.

And that's just one of the many sayings that this book looks and gives explanations for.

It runs for one hundred and ninety two pages, which includes a forward from the writer.

Not all of the sayings have definitive explanations for their origins. Some the writer can only speculate about. But all are given details as to what they actually mean.

Some of them come with box outs containing extra bits of information. And there are simple but effective illustrations to go with a handful of others.

Not a book to read in one go otherwise it would get very repetitive quickly. As a book to be dipped into and out of occasionally, it's a fine and fascinating read and a handy reference work also.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A handy interesting book to dip into. But not as many references as I had hoped.
Published 22 hours ago by Michele
5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of research by J Parkinson
Just what I wanted for a present and for me! Very well set out with fascinating information. Great piece of research by J Parkinson.
Published 21 days ago by Heather
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Christmas Present
I purchased this for Dad as a Christmas present and he loved it. He read most of it on Christmas day but found it very interesting.
Published 7 months ago by Sarah
4.0 out of 5 stars Good buy
Bought this for my Granny for her birthday and she loved it! Keeps her amused and reads it to her friends.
Published 12 months ago by MISS A NESBITT
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I am very interested in where the sayings we have originate from and this book looked one for me! It really is an interesting book and can be picked up at any time. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Card Lover
3.0 out of 5 stars good for quizzes
interesting, unusual facts, extra bit of knowledge, good for pub quizzes and crosswords, Would recommend to anyone who is interested in facts and figures
Published 15 months ago by JO SIRKIN
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Condition
This is a fabulous 2nd hand book, better than expected. Fantastic seller, no qualms with that at all. I'm a little dissapointed with the content of the book however. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Chrissie Beardmore
5.0 out of 5 stars Spilling the Beans
A great book for dipping into now and again or checking up on a saying, especially when my grandson queries a saying.
Published 18 months ago by J. R. Bird
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Funny Very good book, read it in parts fun facts of stuff that keeps you wondering. Good present for people.
Published 18 months ago by vicky commons
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