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Law of diminishing returns
on 26 November 2012
I adored The Etymologicon (the Radio 4 CD version was so gripping I found myself sitting in the car and refusing to get out until I'd heard to the end of the current item), but for me this is a weak successor.
It's a compendium of little known words presented as for use at different times of day. So breakfast words for the morning, nightclub words for the evening. So you can laugh about how telling a modern woman she's a 'bellibone' probably won't please her as it would her ancestors, but that's pretty much it.
That's not to say there aren't some fabulous Etymologicon style snippets in here, and some items really are laugh out loud, but it's just a bit charmless compared to it's earlier partner.
I'll also admit I was quite peeved by the author's confession (on page 248) that he made up one of the words in the book, but won't say which one. It could be the one you shared with people around you, the one you most remembered, the one that made you laugh. Who knows? But not saying which one was the lie renders every word in the book a possible fiction, so why bother reading it?