Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable Hardcover – 2 Nov 2000
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If you like Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable and other word lovers' guides, you'll adore this. Adrian Room, the editor of recent editions of Brewer's, has gathered together over 8,000 words, names and phrases that "resonate in the collective memory of English-speaking people all over the world". It's a wonderful smorgasbord. The highs and lows of 20th-century culture are cheerfully ransacked for their gems. In a way, this book is a fascinating bite-by-bite history of the last century, with excursions into the 1800s and the beginning of the third millennium. (If you want to round out the picture, try The New Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations, which makes an interesting companion volume to this one.) The range of categories covered is almost endless, including Mathematics and mechanics, Play titles, Famous People, Alternative and New Age topics, and so many more. Slang, jargon, metaphors, catch phrases, quotations, sayings and slogans all take their bow, with fascinating "general entries" going into detail about instances of a theme such as Fakes, and "list entries" on topics such as Advertising Slogans of the 20th Century, Commercial Inventions, Programming Languages and String Quartets. What other book could explain "Jargonaut: a punning term for someone who uses an excessive amount of jargon"; the computer language Java; the origins of the phrase "Jaw-jaw"; the fact that the title of the film Jaws was a last-minute inspiration (it might have been called Leviathan Rising, or half a dozen other titles); the story of jazz-and all without turning a page? Open the book anywhere else and you'd have a similar range. It's a dream book for intellectual and cultural magpies, all written with the wit, learning and playfulness for which Brewer's is renowned. Dr Ebenezer Cobham Brewer (Blessings on his name) remains the presiding spirit, and there can be no greater compliment than that.--David Pickering
About the Author
Adrian Room is an established writer of reference books, mainly on the origins of words and names. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the English Place-Name Society and American Name Society. He was Senior Lecturer in Russian with the Ministry of Defence until 1984, when he took up full-time writing.
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