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Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep: The Origins of Even More Phrases We Use Every Day Mass Market Paperback – 28 Aug 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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  • Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep: The Origins of Even More Phrases We Use Every Day
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  • Red Herrings and White Elephants
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  • Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes
Total price: £27.95
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141039566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141039565
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 131,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Where is the last chance saloon?
Who was Gordon Bennett?
Why isn't red tape black?
Why do we have a hunch, get the cold shoulder or laugh like a drain?
Why do we say skinflint, dressed up to the nines and out of the blue - and, of course, shaggy dog stories and black sheep?

We use these phrases every day and yet have little or no idea where many of them come from. Here, Albert Jack, author of the bestselling Red Herrings and White Elephants, takes us on another rollercoaster ride through the fascinating origins of hundreds of our favourite expressions (and comes up trumps). --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Alber Jack has become something of a publishing phenomenon, clocking up hundreds of thousands of sales with his series of bestselling adventures tracing the fantastic stories behind everyday phrases (Red Herrings and White Elephants), the world's great mysteries (Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs) and nursery rhymes (Pop Goes the Weasel). When not engaged in research, Albert Jack lives somewhere between Guildford and Cape Town, where he divides his time between fast living and slow horses, neat vodka and untidy pubs.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
RED HERRINGS was my favourite book of last year and now (just as my friends were breathing a sigh of relief that I had stopped dragging every conversation round to the weird and wonderful origins of the words we use every day) here comes the sequel and it's even better. Did you know, for instance, that 'buttering someone up' comes from the ancient Hindu custom of throwing globs of clarified butter at the statues of gods; that 'nailing your colours to the mast' came from captains, thinking that they were unlikely to win a sea battle, nailing their flag to the mast so their more cowardly crew couldn't winch it down and surrender; that saying something has 'got legs' comes from wine tasting -- and there's hundreds more stories where those came from... I can't imagine anyone not loving this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book very interesting althought I thought it would have contained a few more well know sayings. But then again I suppose it is a sequal to a previous book so I guess if you want the full story you need to buy both
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Got this little book on recommendation of sister.It has such a lot of funny things in it.Where expressions come from,funny little sayings,etc.Surprising where all these everyday sayings come from.Read it,its fun reading
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this for my dad for xmas but had a read myself of a few pages, really intresting facts of where saying come from. I was not disappointed as Amazon put a great "look inside" profile so I knew what I was getting.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All the most known phases, Red Herrings & White Elephants is the one to choose. However if you want more, then this book contains more but they are more obscure (less well known). Good though.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I recently found this little book languishing on the bookshelf at home, literally gathering dust, and wondered why I hadn't actually read it. So I gave it a go. Within a dozen pages, the reason that I had abandoned the book came back to me...

I ploughed my way through the first section; nautical origins and (bear in mind I am no expert) spotted half a dozen glaring errors, bordering on made up.

Take the first; "caught between the devil and the deep blue sea". Yes, the Devil is a reference to a seam in a ship’s hull. It is the longest seam between planks on a ship to make waterproof and the origin of the phrase "the devil to pay" which refers to the act of hammering new caulking (treated rope to seal the seam) into a seam to make it waterproof. The act of letting out a length of rope is called paying, and paying the devil is having to re-seal the longest and most difficult seam on the ship... not something that was relished by the sailors, hence the phrase.

You can't really tell from the author's attempt to describe its location, but it is traditionally considered to be the one between the top of the last hull plank and the start of the decking, but no you can't “fall into it” and “be trapped halfway down the side of the ship”. What rubbish. In this context it is more likely that it is a reference to the activity of sealing all the seams on the hull, hanging over the hull on a swing like seat, with the lower seams ones putting you close to the waterline and at risk of drowning, while the higher up the hull you get, the closer you get to doing the worst part of the job, the difficult devil seam. Therefore neither extreme is appealing and you are caught between.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Not to sound like an idiot but this review really writes itself. If you have an interest in where British phrases come from then this book ticks all the boxes, its full of commonly used phrases and a few less common one too, well written and easy to pick up. If you want a crime thriller, atlas, cookery book on preparation of Highland scones or Top Gears annual then I wouldn't suggest this book however.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I have often been unable to remember a phrase, or phrases, when trying to complete a crossword. This book will be a great help plus the explanations of the origins of the phrases are very interesting and informative.
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