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The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories Hardcover – 18 Apr 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 568 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1st Ed. (U.K.) edition (18 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198631219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198631217
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 3.8 x 17 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,106,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

This useful book explains the meaning of English words, but only in the course of giving a very concise history, uncluttered by quotations and examples of usage, of how they came to mean what they do. Look up 'egregious', for instance, and you discover that its current meaning of 'remarkably bad' has somehow morphed from an original meaning of 'remarkably good', probably via an ironic usage of the former. In general, it's fascinating to be reminded of how many English words have a root in Old English. And perhaps surprising to find how many 'slang' usages which seem very modern actually originate in the 1920s and 1930s ('funny money', and 'fuzz' meaning police, for instance). It's both a valuable resource for reference, and almost endlessly intriguing to dip into in a serendipitous way.

About the Author

Glynnis Chantrell is Senior Editor in the English Language Teaching department at OUP. For several years she was Senior Editor in the Dictionaries department, working on many books including the Concise Oxford Dictionary (9th edn), and the New Oxford Dictionary of English (responsible for Word Histories). Glynnis taught modern languges for many years, and is multi-lingual. She has taught at every level, including adults.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
Stimulating and entertaining. Contains very recent words as well as well as established ones.
It's useful to keep to hand to look up words as needed, but it also makes a pleasant read in its own right.
The origin of words is a great aid to understanding.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By sophie on 1 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is brilliant if you're interested in words!I personally am a word geek and this is perfect, really full descriptions. However it is not completely extensive, so if you want every word you can think of, you may need a larger dictionary.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Likealaugh on 1 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is really fascinating. It gives the background to thousands of English words. Anyone who is interested in our language should have The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories.
When I look up a word, it leads on to other words; it is such pure pleasure that it is hard to put the book down.
My advice is: buy it, and you won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Hagans on 6 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful, portable, reference tool. Being paperback makes it easy to carry and 12 000 entries means that, although it doesn't contain every word that ever was, it is a serious etymology text.
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