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The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable Hardcover – 9 Nov 2000

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Hardcover, 9 Nov 2000
£16.99 £0.87

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1232 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st Edition edition (9 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198602197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198602194
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 6.1 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,746,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Amazon Review

Oxford University Press is known for thinking in long time spans (the first edition of the OED took 50 years). Even so, the genesis of The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable seems rather leisurely: the idea was first mooted in 1927, the book finally published in the year 2000. Perhaps this was partly because the famous Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, around since 1870, had something of a grip on that part of the market. Oxford's answer to Brewer's has taken care to be a bit bigger than its rival--it boasts 20,000 entries, rather than Brewer's 18,500. Like its rival it deals with an extraordinary hot-potch of phrases, expressions and allusions that you might struggle to find in an ordinary dictionary; as the editor puts it, "words, names and phrases with cultural resonance: items from history and religion, mythology, biography, folk customs and superstitions, science and technology, philosophy, and popular culture." The last of these includes such late 90s favourites as "Blair Babes" and "Frankenfood"--"a derogatory term for food derived from genetically modified produce, a shortening of Frankenstein food; the word is recorded from 1992 ..." explains our text, in its rather formal style, going on to give an example of early usage. A somewhat strait-laced guide it may be, but it can tell you about almost anything. Philosophers, scientists and kings, places and buildings you might find mentioned in literary works, imaginary beasts and famous sayings--they are here in vast numbers. The little Latin phrases that baffle those without a classical education? This book will introduce you to obscurities such as ductus litterarum or aquila non captat muscas, although it doesn't stoop to entries for such relatively common terms as a priori and a posteriori. Where it can't give you a definitive answer, it presents several options--two possible origins for the phrase "send to Coventry", for example, or three for "raining cats and dogs." It's a wonderful ramble through many different worlds of words, and for anyone who loves the English language and its literature, a stroll through this dictionary will necessarily be punctuated by endless curious halts as yet another mystery is explained. --David Pickering


"A highly useful tool."--Booklist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jo Taylor on 28 Sep 2003
Format: Hardcover
A disappointing reference book as its title bears little resemblence to its contents!
As a dictionary of "Phrase and Fable" I expected rather more in the way of phrases. The first three pages only explain four!
The remaining entries explain such words as "abbot" and "abolitionists".
Dictionary? Yes! Of "Phrase and Fable"? Definitely not!
I recommend you glance at a copy before parting with your cash as, like me, you may not be getting what you bargained for.
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By Greeno on 5 Feb 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have a few Oxford reference books and find them all very helpful - this is no exception and is packed with really good notables.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Must-Have for Any Writer's Reference Library 26 Dec 2000
By Richard Argo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This volume contains a useful variety of words, phrases, and biography information that you won't find in any other dictionary. While reading newspapers, magazines, and other current media, I often encounter cultural references, phrases, proverbial sayings, and more, that aren't listed in any dictionary that defines single words.
For example, The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable contains entries for a wide variety of subjects such as John Lennon, Pop goes the weasel, and "It's the economy, stupid." Great stuff!
At well over a thousand pages, this volume has all the heft of any good dictionary.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Oxford vs Brewer's 22 May 2001
By sassy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this title because my Brewer's has gotten lost. I thought I'd replace it with a similar title that would be just as much fun to get lost in. The Oxford is just as seductive. In time I will get used to its odd indexing (the article's subject may not be the first printed word in the phrase so that the eye is often confused about just where in the alphabet one happens to be). However the first time I actually looked up something I was disapppointed: Beer and skittles> Life is not beer and skittles> 19th century proverbial saying> Yes, but what exactly is a skittle? And what does the saying mean? I think I will purchase another Brewer's. I don't know that it will do any better with this query but I believe the Oxford does not completely replace it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Caution: Fascinating Information Inside! 29 July 2010
By Is it a Turkey or is it SEP? - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is really just a modernized version of 'Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable', and like Brewer's (which I also own) it is an absolute treasure-trove of (basically) useless information that will delight anyone with a love of words or phrase, and a good background in literature and history. This is truly a dictionary - words and phrases are alphabetized, and followed by a paragraph (or a few paragraphs) of explanation, discussion, and information.
A great dictionary about legends & fairytales!! 15 Dec 2012
By Danny R. Steglich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this dictionary as a great source of monster legends, folklore, fantasy & fairylore. I could find material about fantasy stories that I've never heard of from around the world.
P. Cooper 9 Feb 2008
By Urenna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Oxford's Phrase and Fable is helpful to writers. Some of the phrases are familiar from my childhood; my mother was full of phrases and anecdotes. This book sprouts memories that are still alive.
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