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Gallimaufry: A hodgepodge of our vanishing vocabulary Hardcover – 14 Sep 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (14 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198610629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198610625
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 2.8 x 13.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 648,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Michael Quinion, word scholar par excellence, provides an entertaining and informative look at many wonderful words and phrases that have mostly gone by the boards."--Daniel Boice, Catholic Library World

About the Author

Michael Quinion is a professional writer who has written widely on the English language. He was a co-author of the second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of New Words and the author of Ologies and Isms. He also manages and writes for his own web site World Wide Words, launched in 1997.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gallimaufry (noun) - 1. a dish made up of leftovers 2. a miscellaneous jumble or medley

Yup, that pretty much defines the contents of British lexicographer Michael Quinion's fourth book of word stories. His previous book, Port Out, Starboard Home and Other Language Myths (2004) was a surprise big seller. It was no surprise to me because I've been following his work for years. He is the proprietor of a indispensable website, World Wide Words ( [...] ) that is well-known to word-freaks like me.

'Gallimaufry' focuses on the stories behind words that are disappearing (or have disappeared) from the language. It is divided into sections on food and drink, health and medicine, entertainment and leisure, transport and fashion and concludes with a delightful section on names, employment, and communications. We get the stories behind such words as (to take examples only from the transport section) brougham (named for a former Lord Chancellor), landau, barouche, cab (née cabriolet), hansom, and taxi, among others. (Did you know that the original form of 'taxi' was 'taximeter cabriolet'? The 'taximeter' ('taxi', tariff; 'meter' measure) part of the name indicated that a cab was the first public vehicle to measure the distance a fare was taken and charge accordingly.

Quinion's style is lighthearted while learned. I found myself turning pages just to see what was next. Admittedly I'm fascinated by words, having been a reader for the Oxford English Dictionary for a number of years, but Quinion's way of explaining word histories is unfailingly delightful and I think this book could be as interesting to the non-word-freak as was, say, Bill Bryson's book, 'The Mother Tongue.' And it's a lot more factual.
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By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 April 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A lot of research must have gone into preparing this book, which really is a hodge-podge of words over which the author has beavered away to find the sources of the original meanings. Some of the entries are fascinating, especially those where the original meaning has been completely lost, but we still use the word in a different context. Many of the words you won't have heard of and are so remote, and out of common use, that knowing their derivation is less entrancing. The book is nicely laid out with the key words in bold type, which makes skimming the text for words that interest you much easier. A book to dip into for a few minutes every now and again, rather than plough through from start to finish.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Enjoyable make weight gift for a word lover last Christmas
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.4 out of 5 stars 11 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating word origins. 24 April 2013
By John Fulford - Published on
Verified Purchase
This is a book for those who are intrigued by the extraordinary variety of English words. Written by an expert and extremely well researched it is also light reading that can be put down and picked up any time. As an author, I was fascinated by the wide variety and strange histories of the words and learned something new on every page, if not every paragraph. These are words we use every day but their original meanings are often far removed and sometimes quite different. Surprise yourself.
2.0 out of 5 stars Full of old words, but reads like a list 27 Feb. 2014
By Chris B. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Old words amuse me, but this book is really just a list of old words. It doesn't delve into the history or etymology of them like I had expected. It's more like "WEIRDWORD" used to mean a grey pudding made out of oats. It was a little different from "SIMILARWORD" which used barley. Page after page of that, organized into chapters based on topic. Not the novel and interesting book I expected.
4.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I thought it would be.. 18 May 2010
By JyN - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I realized a little too late that the author is from the UK (I guess I didn't compute the OXFORD part right away. Lol), so a lot of his etymological definitions are for words that I wouldn't know anyway.. Nevertheless, I really did enjoy the book, I found it very intriguing, I love this kind of stuff and I'm glad I invested in this particular book! :)
4.0 out of 5 stars INTERESTIN˝ 31 Jan. 2015
By TriumphNut - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Word maven finds this INTERESTING
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Quinion strikes again 30 Jan. 2010
By Robert A. Scala - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael Quinion has another good read for anyone interested in words, their origins, meanings and usage. Gallimaufry (a 16th century word meaning a hash made up of odds and ends of leftovers) is a fascinating walk through a garden of words mostly no longer used.
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