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Dictionary of English Idioms,
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This review is from: The Penguin Dictionary of English Idioms (4,000+ Idioms) (Penguin Reference Books) (Paperback)
I am fascinated by languages and the use of idioms and colloquiums, and in particular how they came about. To that end, this book was a disappointment, as the origins of many idioms have not been explained, for example: "Pig in a poke". This saying was born in medieval times, where some "fly-by-night" market traders would display healthy little piglets, which could be purchased and carried home in a bag (poke) "kindly" provided by the vendor. However, whilst the customer was distracted, the wily trader would stuff a worthless cat into the bag. The tort was not discovered until such time as the unfortunate purchaser returned home; when the cat was let out of the bag! The book does go some way towards explaining the origin of pig in a poke, but for some reason fails link it with letting the cat out of the bag.