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Dictionary of Word Origins Hardcover – 1 Sep 1991

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If the OED seems to obtuse for you... 23 Oct. 2004
By J.A. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
...Then this is the book you want. Outside of the Oxford English Dictionary, it's the best (and least expensive) etymological reference I've come across, even better than The Oxford Dictioary of Word Histories, published by Oxford University Press.

Here's an example of a terrific entry:

PREY Prey comes via Old French prei from Latin praeda 'booty' (from which was derived the word paredari 'plunder', source of English depradation and predatory). This was a contraction of an earlier praeheda, a noun formed with the prefix prae-'before' from the same base (*hed- 'saize', source also of English get) as produced the verb praehendere 'seize'. This has been a rich source of English vocabulary, contributing through different channels such a varied assortment as prehensile, prison, and prize 'something seized in war', not to mention prefixed forms like apprehend, comprehend, comprise, impgregnable, reprehensible, reprieve, and surprise. It is also the ancestor of French prendre 'take'.

Here's the Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories entry for the same word:

PREY [Middle English] Early noun use included the sense 'plunder taken in war' (=that which is 'seized'); it comes from Old French preie, from Latin praeda 'boot'. The verb is from Old French preir, based on Latin praedari 'seize as plunder', from praeda. The verbal phrase prey upon is found from early times.

Both are complete entries, but one is obviously more complete than the other.
5.0 out of 5 stars Future Wordsmiths 15 Dec. 2010
By Lizbeth J. Phillips - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Templeton (University of Nevada at Reno) of Words Their Way fame recommended this book to me because I teach seventh graders who like to use big words on people. They like to know big words, their contextual and denotative meanings, and they use them every chance they get. For instance, one of our November words was "tractable." My students loved this word because they are learning the fine art of looking calm and in control on the outside--even if they are the exact opposite on the inside. One student told her mother that she was just going to have to be tractable about going to a relative's house over the holidays.

If you like to know about words beyond their definitions, this is an excellent resource. If you teach school and want to captivate your students, you most certainly need this book and several others like it in your classroom collection. You can marvel at students who grab word origins books when there is independence time in class!
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book. 24 April 2013
By V. K. Kristoffersen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating book, lots of interesting explanations. Fun book to browse, not really to read. Everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask about word origins!
5.0 out of 5 stars Dictionary of Word Orgins 22 Jun. 2010
By Ann R. Higham - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was informed about this book by a college professor who claims it to be one of the best....
I agree, it is a plethora of information!
5.0 out of 5 stars Love looking up their meanings 7 April 2015
By maryellen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Words, where did they come from? Love looking up their meanings. Thanks for another one for my library.
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