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The Wordsworth Dictionary of Foreign Words in English (Wordsworth Reference) Paperback – Apr 1995


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Product details

  • Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd (April 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853263443
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853263446
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,748,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Mac McAleer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 23 Jun 2014
Format: Paperback
This book lives next to my English dictionary. I have always found it useful and I am glad that I bought it. It should really be called the "Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases in English" as it contains short phrases as well as words. It is a cheap and cheerful Wordsworth edition and none the worse for that. I find it good for definitions that I think I understand but where I need confirmation as well as words and phrases that are totally new to me. There will always be many words not found in this book. It cannot be expected to cover specialist and academic words and it cannot compete with the ambitions of some writers.

It is arranged as a dictionary and has 325 pages. The entries are described in enough detail to give the meaning, the usage in English and the source or derivation. Latin, French and Italian seem to predominate. Example entries are: al dente; beau geste; chutzpah; deus ex machina; dummkopf; ex nihilo; kia ora; lettre de cachet; idée fixe; panem et circenses; roman à clef; schadenfreude; sic transit gloria mundi; summa cum laude; urbi et orbi; zaibatsu.

As a full example, this is the entry for "hoi polloi": Greek hoi polloi has had a chequered career in English, both semantically and syntactically. It means literally `the many' (hoi is the plural of ho, the definite article, and polloi is the plural of polus `many', from which English gets the prefix poly-), and hence by extension `the masses'. English started to take it up seriously in the early 19th century, and uses it mainly as a dismissive or derisive term for the common people, viewed from the vantage-point of the well-off and privileged.
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By Steamdon on 24 Sep 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting. provide long and detailed descriptions of some commonly used words and phrases.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
How to Speak English More Eloquently? 13 Mar 2009
By Jusuf Hariman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This browser's paradise takes the reader behind the literal translations of foreign words to explain their real meanings. Such words often fill gaps in the canon of English usage, while French words provide a useful and pleasing flourish and Latin phrases are often a legal necessity. This book gives lively accounts of the origins and background of words not only from Latin, French and German but also from Greek, Italian, Spanish and many other sources and shows how they have enriched the expressiveness of English in such areas as food, music, sport inter alia. Today, over two-thirds of English vocabulary is ultimately of foreign origin. In the 1990's the borrowing process continues unabated and it is this process which receives an up-to-date and detail rendering in John Ayto's book. Mr Ayto pays particular attention to the subtle nuances and connotations which accompany the use of foreignisms, and his careful accounts will be especially useful to those who are uncertain of the force of a particular item or unsure about how it should be used. This book is informed and informative, clear and succinct in its commentary, and steering well clear of the impressionisms and pedantry that so often colours books in the genre. Digest this book and you will improve your eloquence dramatically.
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