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Wordly Wise Hardcover – 22 Oct 1984

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 22 Oct 1984
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Constable; First Edition edition (22 Oct. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0094652503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0094652507
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14.6 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,304,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read Wordly Wise a few years ago and loved it. In contrast to many immitations that have appeared subsequently (I won't mention any names) James McDonald's book manages to be both erudite and a good read. Some books on etymology fail because they don't flow. Many others accept the most ridiculous folk etymology because the author has read an explanation somewhere on the Net and has no criteria with which to judge. Wordly Wise is thankfully properly fact-checked and coherently structured. A must for anyone seriously interested in the English language.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating read rivelling the Oxford Shorter Dictionary not so much in terms of extent, but definitely regarding the curious evolution of the English language. One of those ones you need to have lying around at all times.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this is a great book for finding old links to modern words with attached humour
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, humorous... 18 Jun. 2014
By Loco-Moco - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding
... and somewhat opinionated. The subject-per-chapter concept is a clever one that aggregates words of many different origins in a non-academic, enjoyable way. Notably, McDonald doesn't shy from a couple of subjects one might expect to see omitted from more chaste etymologies. In one amusing passage he lists a number of family names and the words behind them. If your name is on that list, be thankful the language has evolved.

He does, however, allow his opinions to shine through. I dinged him a star because that's not good tradecraft. In particular, people of faith are given SHORT SHRIFT (p.66, or in modern parlance, they can TALK TO THE HAND). That may explain why I found it at a church yard sale. If you can be tolerant of that particular intolerance, you'll most certainly enjoy this unusual work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best, for those who missed it 10 Mar. 2003
By Lawrence Way - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding
This is the most interesting and satisfying book on English etymology in my collection, because it gives much richer context to the word origins than do the others. It's a shame that the book is out of print. I would like to start a campaign to have it reissued or -- even better -- to have the author give us a second, expanded, edition. And just in case he ever reads this review, "Many thanks."
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of its Type 19 Nov. 2015
By N. J. Franklin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding
I read Wordly Wise a few years ago and loved it. In contrast to many immitations that have appeared subsequently (I won't mention any names) James McDonald's book manages to be both erudite and a good read. Some books on etymology fail because they don't flow. Many others accept the most ridiculous folk etymology because the author has read an explanation somewhere on the Net and has no criteria with which to judge. Wordly Wise is thankfully properly fact-checked and coherently structured. A must for anyone seriously interested in the English language.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best, for those who missed it 10 Mar. 2003
By Lawrence Way - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding
This is the most interesting and satisfying book on English etymology in my collection, because it gives much richer context to the word origins than do the others. It's a shame that the book is out of print. I would like to start a campaign to have it reissued or -- even better -- to have the author give us a second, expanded, edition. And just in case he ever reads this review, "Many thanks."
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Be Wise: Avoid!! 30 May 2015
By xnyrnkc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
Disappointing book about the origin of words.
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