- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (1 Nov. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1848314159
- ISBN-13: 978-1848314153
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language Hardcover – 1 Nov 2012
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'Reading The Horologicon in one sitting is very tempting' -- Roland White, Sunday Times 'A magical new book ... Forsyth unveils a selection of those obsolete, but oh-so-wonderful words' -- Daily Mail 'Whether you are out on the pickaroon or ogo-pogoing for a bellibone, The Horologicon is a lexical lamppost' -- The Field 'A delightfully eccentric ... illuminating new book.' -- Daily Mail
About the Author
Mark Forsyth is a blogger and author whose books have made him one of the UK’s best-known commentators on words. His book The Etymologicon was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller and was followed by the similarly successful The Horologicon. Follow Mark on Twitter @inkyfool.
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Top Customer Reviews
As the front cover tells us, this is "A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language", starting at 6 a.m. and ending at midnight. Each chapter, comprising one hour, deals with one major activity particular to that time of day, such as Waking and Washing, Dressing and Breakfast, and Commute. In his preambulation, the author hopes that this book will be used as a reverse dictionary: rather than asking "What does xyz mean?", he encourages the reader to ask "What's the word?" for a particular activity, then check the time and find the answer in this handy reference book, such as: "I really don't feel like going in to work today, I have to call up my boss to feign sickness", for which the word is egrote. The fact that my laptop's inbuilt spellchecker has just flagged it up just shows you how forgotten and obscure these words have (unfortunately) become. So your boss will not have the faintest idea that what you're really doing is whindling because you're suffering from a hum durgeon. The author's whimsical and easy-going conversational style of writing rather masks his eloquence and hard work that has obviously gone into this book, and it is easy to tell that it is a true labour of love, peppered as it is with such lovely alliterations such as herbaceous hedonism and linguistic lowlands.Read more ›
Here's an example from his section on looking in the mirror while in the bathroom in the morning:
"But enough of your furuncles. Let us just say that you are erumpent, which is a jolly- sounding way of saying spotty (nicer than papuliferous and infinitely more pleasant than petechial, a word that Doctor Johnson defined as `pestilentially-spotted')".
Um, yes, but 250 pages of this started to pall rather quickly.
So... maybe a stocking filler for the etymologist in your life... maybe?
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?
In The Horologicon, he turns his attention to words that have been lost from the English language and does so by following a person's day, finding him lying abed just before dawn worrying (uhtceare) and leaving him many hours later in his 'consopiation', or lying down ready for sleep. The chances of reviving any of his words seem slim, even when it is very useful to have a single word to cover what needs a whole phrase in modern English, but Forsyth's wit is such that the journey itself is worth the cab fare. Some words are a little dubious -- uhtceare appears only once in Anglo-Saxon texts so was clearly not in widespread use-- but who cares when it's such a joy to roll in your mouth. Did you sleep well? Yes, until 4am when I had a bout of uhtceare. Try telling that one to your doctor.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very clever. Still nice to have an actual book with a hardback cover.Published 17 days ago by RikRak
Full of words tasty to say and satisfying to digest. Written with a wry scroll to the lip. Intended to amuse and engage, with victory on both fronts. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Destry
Audience: Those who love the meaning and origins of words.
Summed up in one word: There isn't just one word for this book...there are lots... Read more
Have had great fun reading this book and trying to put some of the most unusual words in to everyday use. You should see some of the looks I got! Priceless!!!!Published 7 months ago by SJS