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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars have a serendipitous dip inside
what a wonderful compendium of interesting links between the words in our language. this is the perfect companion to an armchair and a log fire; and, after reading this book, you won't see English in the same way as you did before - you'll see English as a far friendlier entity, full of interconnections and pleasing self-references. buy 'the etymologicon' today, i urge...
Published on 8 Nov 2011 by john smithers

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars opinions rather than research
The Etymologicon was entertaining enough for the first page or so, but it soon becomes evident that there are no sources or references to back up what Mark Forsyth 'believes' to be the origin of a word. Given that he aims the book at people interested in the origins of language, it is a shame he didn't credit his readers with enough intelligence or interest to follow...
Published 3 months ago by Amanda


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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars have a serendipitous dip inside, 8 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Hardcover)
what a wonderful compendium of interesting links between the words in our language. this is the perfect companion to an armchair and a log fire; and, after reading this book, you won't see English in the same way as you did before - you'll see English as a far friendlier entity, full of interconnections and pleasing self-references. buy 'the etymologicon' today, i urge you: if you want to enjoy all the more every single conversation you'll ever have in the future, that is.
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191 of 194 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 3 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Hardcover)
Mark Forsyth's meanderings through the English language are carried off with a panache that frankly leaves other etymological 'dictionaries' looking dry, dusty and rightly shelf-bound. Indeed, the fact that the book starts with the phrase "a turn up for the books" indicates exactly that; this is not a reference book, but a new, unique and often hilarious way of drawing out the richness of English in the form of a comic journey through the verbal linkages, rhyming paths and allegorical alleyways which crowd the author's inventive mind. Equally, though you can dip in and out so it's ideal commuting reading. I was most amused to learn about the link between underwear and Christianity on my way home today. I shall be on Amazon stocking up on more copies to stock stockings before Christmas... Any link there?
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152 of 157 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A witty and erudite delight, 3 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Hardcover)
This witty and erudite book was filed in the reference section of my local bookshop. But despite the slightly forbidding title, and the fact that it is full of enlightening facts and connections, it shouldn't be be bought for reference so much as enjoyment("edutainment", perhaps, although the eloquent Mr Forsyth would probably disapprove of such a clumsy coinage). Perhaps the best way to describe it is to say that it wears its learning very lightly.

The writer takes you on a whirlwind journey through a series of words and historical facts, ingeniously linking each one to the next. There's a fair amount of schoolboy humour, so perhaps not one to buy for someone who doesn't appreciate references to codpieces, but this all adds to the fun (who would have guessed that feisty came from a word meaning "fart"?)

It was very difficult to read this without smiling, both at the jokes and with the joy of discovering new and useless scraps of information.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating tour around through origins of everyday words, 2 Dec 2011
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Hardcover)
Like many people I am mildly interested in where words come from and I've occasionally read books like David Crystal's By Hook Or By Crook: A Journey in Search of English which looks at where English place-names come from. Unless books like these are skilfully written they can quickly become tedious and its usually best to get this sort of information in smallers chunk from newspapers or magazines.

Mark Forsyth publishes the Inky Fool blog in which he looks at the derivation of words, but links one to another in a humorous ramble through the English language. Mark is one of those lucky bloggers who's blog has now become a book, The Etymologicon, and I have to say, it makes for a very good read which I've been dipping into over the last week.

Its probably better to illustrate Mark's methods with an example than to describe them. For example, in a chapter headed A Game of Chicken Mark describes how in medieval France people used to gamble by putting money in a pot then throwing stones at a chicken until someone hit it. This was the game of poule, which is French for chicken. Later on, the pot of money in the middle of a card table came to be known as the poule and this term was picked up by English gamblers who changed the spelling to pool.

We read on to learn the forward connections to the game of pool and then to pooling money, and resources and then onto typing pools and car pools and ends with pointing gout that we have all become part of the gene pool "which, etymologically, means that we are all little bits of chicken".

I was surprised how in order to get his connections Mark has to link words from all the European languages. I'd heard before that most of our languages spring from a root called Proto Indo European but it never struck me how much of the English language is derived from this source.

This is a nicely produced book which would be a perfect gift for anyone who might be interested in where our words come from.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I laughed out loud on the tube, very embarrassing, 3 Nov 2011
This is a great little book. I was reading it on the tube to work and the Dutch word for butterfly (I don't want to give it away but it involves a very literal translation of buterschijte) genuinely made me laugh out loud, in a very quiet carriage. Erudite, witty, lots of fun and great to dip in and out of.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully funny and educational by turns, 21 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Hardcover)
Not so much a circular stroll as a madcap chase, this is a book which never stays still for a moment and is constantly veering off in unexpected directions.

Another reviewer complains that the author is trying to make etymology "accessible", but I think he's aiming far higher: he's trying to make etymology funny, and he succeeds in spades.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little joy, 13 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Hardcover)
I've just started reading The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language and can't recommend it too highly to anyone who has an interest in, or a love of, words. The author, Mark Forsyth, says his family forced him into writing it as all other avenues of self- or psychiatric help couldn't cure him of his insistence in not only taking a single simple word and tracing its roots, and their roots, and their roots, but then talking about it to anyone with the temerity to ask and the patience to listen.

The first chapter takes us from books to bookmakers to turn-ups; the second from medieval French gambling to the gene-pool - honestly, there are links - and all written with a wryly self-deprecatory style. You'll find it in your Christmas stocking if you're lucky.

And I don't know the author.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight from cover to cover., 8 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Hardcover)
Engaging, surprising and entertaining, this is a book to dip into intending to find out an interesting origin or two...but it will lead you on a wonderfully diverting journey through the English language. Pausing at words familiar to you, you'll find new meanings and curiosities abound; when it leads you to new words, a host of eccentric delights are in store. Your lexicon will never be the same again.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll love this too, 3 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Hardcover)
Crikey, where to start? Well, The Etymologicon begins with... book... and ends with... book. And in-between it's crammed full of words of wit and wisdom. I now have a damn good reason for not liking avocados - their name comes from the Aztec word for a part (or two) of men's soft bits. And I was delighted to discover Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do has nothing to do with female deers and drops of golden sun (the truth isn't that much better though - it's a shortening of a hymn to John the Baptist). Finally, if you ever want to speak Latin with the apparent imagination of a football fan then there's the wonderful sentence 'Malo, malo, malo, malo', which doesn't mean your team is playing badly, but does mean 'I would rather be in an apple tree than be a bad boy in trouble'. Perhaps best to keep that one to yourself when on the terraces.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stocking filler, 3 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language (Hardcover)
Loved it when I flicked through in the bookshop. Stylish cover. Started reading and couldn't stop - perfect for picking up at idle moments or leaving in the loo.
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