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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2010
I bought this for my son's Russian girlfriend- her English is excellent but she is often baffled by idioms - now the cat is really out of the bag for her and she loves it.
22 comments| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
True to its name, this book gives plenty of English idioms with definitions, examples of use in a sentence and a clue as to their tone where necessary. Under "dry as a bone" it defines normal use and suggests the humorous application when someone wants an alcoholic drink very badly but, if you forget where this idiom is, it is hard to find it again in the index because it appears under "bone" but not under "dry." The index is necessary because the editor/authors have decided to group the idioms in sections rather than merely alphabetically: colours, weather, time, life and death etc. The index needed to find a particular idiom takes several pages and is incomplete, as I have suggested. I am not sure which reader would require this arrangement: a writer on a certain topic would not need a list of cliches and a student of English would want the most direct route to an expression. There are bound to be omissions but I was surprised that, with four definitions of 'hot spot' (not listed in the index so I couldn't find it to check that I am right), it didn't give the wi-fi meaning, surely now very common. I think this is more a book to read, savour and enjoy rather than a reference tool.
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on 1 February 2008
This book is recommendable to everyone who is interested in the Englsih language as well as to those which want to polish their english skills. The organisation of the idioms in categories instead of in alphabetical order is what makes this book very special in comarision to the other books on the market. Idioms are easy to find and once found you can inspire yourself while reading the other idioms in this particular category.
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on 2 November 2003
I find this new edition most useful and entertaining as well. The examples used are very helpful, carefully researched and documented. I book worth to be recommended to native speakers as well as to foreigners.
0Comment| 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
In my job as a copywriter, this has turned out to be a pretty useful book. It's packed full of the sayings or 'Idioms' you've been hearing all your life, and is organised in a way that's intuitive and easy to use. It'll save you time wracking your brains for ideas when you write, as well as explain to you exactly what sayings like 'give a dog a bad name and hang him' (for example) mean.

Each entry gives an explanation and example of use, and all entries are organised in categories for extra easy reference - which are: Colours, Elements, Weather, Time, Life & Death, Trees & Plants, Animals, Birds, Fish, Insects, Body, Mind, Illness & Ailments, Relations, Town & Around, The House, Furniture & Household Articles, Food, Clothes, Ships, The World And Its Places, Languages & Nationalities, Names, Monarchy & Parliament, War & Peace, Weapons, Tools, Numbers, School & Education, Work & Occupations, Money & Valuables, Games & Sports, Music & Theatre, Word & Words.

So, if you're writing a piece on a certain subject (for instance I was writing something the other based on colours) you can simply flick to that section a find all the sayings and idioms you could ever want to on the subject. Also, there is an index so you can look up individual words - this too is laid out in a way that is very quick and easy to use. For example, let's suppose you need a saying that uses the word 'String'. A quick glance in the index and you will see:

String, a second string to one's bow 258/1; harp on the same s.315/10; have someone on a s. 320/13

So you see, you not only get a list of all the saying in the book that use the word string (so you don't have to look up each one individually), you also get directions to the entries should you find a saying you're not familiar with and are unsure what it means... Again, taking the above example - I'm sure most of us are familiar with the idioms and meanings of ' a second string to one's bow' and 'to have someone on a string', but what about 'harp on the same string'?

A quick flick to page 315 - and a read of entry number 10 on that page reveals:

10. to harp on the same string - to make the same point over and over again. 'I wish you wouldn't harp on the same string every time I light a cigarette. I know smoking is bad for your health but I won't give up!'

All in all, a worthwhile and very useful and accessible tool for working writers or people with an interest or love of language. Around 377 pages in length I can see this getting as much use as my Rhyming Dictionary - another item I couldn't live with out: Collins Rhyming Dictionary

The front cover of this book sums it up nicely... from cloud nine to seventh heaven.
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on 7 April 2012
I am fascinated by languages and the use of idioms and colloquiums, and in particular how they came about. To that end, this book was a disappointment, as the origins of many idioms have not been explained, for example: "Pig in a poke". This saying was born in medieval times, where some "fly-by-night" market traders would display healthy little piglets, which could be purchased and carried home in a bag (poke) "kindly" provided by the vendor. However, whilst the customer was distracted, the wily trader would stuff a worthless cat into the bag. The tort was not discovered until such time as the unfortunate purchaser returned home; when the cat was let out of the bag! The book does go some way towards explaining the origin of pig in a poke, but for some reason fails link it with letting the cat out of the bag.
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on 25 March 2014
Very formal dictionary of idioms rather than origins (i was seeking the latter). Nevertheless, i bought it as a gift and one for myself - cant say i read it a lot but it was fun for the parts i did but then i realised it is more of a dictionary than an "origin of words"

Good gift though for those Countdown viewer
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on 15 April 2014
Unless you are studying English as a foreign language you will find this far too basic. Indeed many of the entries are hardly idioms at all because they logically mean what they say. Penguin need to take out these non idioms so that they can include idioms which we all find less obvious.
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on 2 May 2013
It does what it says on the cover, that its a dictionary of idioms.
I would have preferred a book which gave me more background to the idiom, rather than just a definition.
Still good as a reference book
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on 22 December 2013
This is a present for my daughter in law. Time will tell if she likes it - but what's not to like. A fascinating tome, which I wish I had bought for myself!
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