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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
For anyone interested in the history and origins of words and common expressions, this is the book for you. Michael Quinion casts an educated and amusing eye on the popular myths and folk etymologies that surround many words and expressions in the English language. I enjoyed it very much and now feel vastly superior on an intellectual level to all my friends and am never...
Published on 4 Nov. 2005 by C. Houghton

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Language Myths Explained
This is a well written and entertaining look at the origins of words and phrases in the English language. There are often myths that have arisen around the origin of terms that can be dismissed by looking for occurrences in print to see if the dates tie up. The only frustrating part is that often we don't know the true origin of a particular word or phrase! It's good...
Published on 3 Mar. 2005 by Mrs. D. J. Smith


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, 4 Nov. 2005
By 
C. Houghton "Kit" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Port Out, Starboard Home (Mass Market Paperback)
For anyone interested in the history and origins of words and common expressions, this is the book for you. Michael Quinion casts an educated and amusing eye on the popular myths and folk etymologies that surround many words and expressions in the English language. I enjoyed it very much and now feel vastly superior on an intellectual level to all my friends and am never short of a fact or two to retell when ever need arises, and occasionally when it doesn't.
Best for English/History enthusiastes who have ever wondered 'Where did that saying come from?'
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Language Myths Explained, 3 Mar. 2005
By 
Mrs. D. J. Smith "eowyngreenleaf" (Luton, England) - See all my reviews
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This is a well written and entertaining look at the origins of words and phrases in the English language. There are often myths that have arisen around the origin of terms that can be dismissed by looking for occurrences in print to see if the dates tie up. The only frustrating part is that often we don't know the true origin of a particular word or phrase! It's good that Quinion explains some expressions that don't make a lot of sense today, simply because of changes in language. Recommended if you are interested in the evolution of language, or are just curious about the origins of some well known expressions.
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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 16 July 2004
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Michael Quinion is in the business of dispelling language myths, as well as explaining etymologies and the meaning of common phrases and slang. He's being doing this for years on his excellent web site World Wide Words. This book is a distillation of some of the material that has appeared on his web site, in a simple A to Z format. It's thoughtful and well written, and explains lots of those irritating or puzzling terms and expressions ("cheap at half the price", "mind your Ps and Qs"). My one complaint is that it's printed on rather low quality paper. Otherwise very good, and I recommend the web site too, which has a whole lot more material on it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and original, 19 Jan. 2007
By 
G. L. Haggett "glynlhaggett" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Port Out, Starboard Home (Mass Market Paperback)
Very readable, enjoyable look at the origins of those words and phrases we use day in day out.

Unlike so many books of this ilk, this wears its learning very lightly and is not just an excuse for an author to parade his learning; indeed, Michael Quinion is not frightened to admit it if he does not know the answer.

I read it from cover to cover and enjoyed it thoroughly, but I have no doubt that I will be dipping into it from time to time in the future as well. Recommended for wordsmiths and for those with a keen curiosity about the world about us alike.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Informative but not very engaging, 22 Dec. 2005
I found this book to be quite interesting in some places, but too many times the author went through a protracted argument about why certain explanations of words are wrong. To add insult to injury, he would then admit he didn't really know where the meaning actual came from. I will keep it as a reference (like many other reviewers here) but wouldn't recommend it for an entertaining read
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 16 Mar. 2012
In-depth histories of the words and phrases we use every day without thinking about them. These are level, balanced accounts, and yet very readable. I found the whole book fascinating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars v useful., 18 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Port Out, Starboard Home (Mass Market Paperback)
Puts a lot of myths to bed, v useful.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Demythologizing folk etymythology, 25 Feb. 2014
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Port Out, Starboard Home (Mass Market Paperback)
People often wonder what is - or rather, what may be - the origin of certain words and phrases; and some of the answers to these questions are as various and as ingenious as they are wrong. More often than not, Quinion is not certain of the correct answer himself, and then engages in his own speculations while making it clear that there is no hard evidence for them. (One of the few phrases of whose strange origin he is certain is to “curry favour”.) But what he does do regularly is to dismiss false attributions - what he calls “folk etymology” - for one reason or another, quite often because the date of the phrase’s first appearance does not tally with the explanation. He writes, for instance, that there is “absolutely no evidence” for the popular idea that the origin of the word “posh” was that wealthy passengers travelling by boat to India booked their cabins on the cooler and therefore more expensive Port side for the Outward journey and the Starboard side on the journey Home. Disproving attributions, even if they figure in some dictionaries, seems to be the main purpose of the book, so that if you read it straight through, the impression it leaves of the author is one of a scholarly but a distinctively fault-finding character. But whether they are right or wrong, attributions of origin are fun to read, we learn some interesting bits of history, and the book will entertain many readers.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best on the subject, 10 Jan. 2011
This is the best book on the subject of derivation of idioms - manners of speaking!
One lesson is that such words or phrases do NOT originate, as a rule, from acronyms (e.g., POSH does not come from "port outward, starboard home"). We Americans are
addicted to acronyms and are particularly credulous of such explanations (there are many such books over here and they are loaded with false derivations such as that).
Don't be put off by the claim that this is a dully written book - it isn't. It's fascinating.

PS It has the politically incorrect words and phrases, too. Find out the origin of "wog"!
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20 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good idea but disappointing, 26 Oct. 2004
By A Customer
This idea behind this book is great. It is such a shame that it is written in such a dry style. I felt I had many disappointing "oh" moments rather than enlightening "a-ha" moments. Language is fluid and a total debunking of the myths behind some words seems to take from the language rather than enrich.
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Port Out, Starboard Home
Port Out, Starboard Home by Michael Quinion (Mass Market Paperback - 1 Sept. 2005)
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