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on 29 May 2013
Another interesting book from Michael Quinion on word & phrase origins.

The difference to many other books on the subject is that you know the entries are properly researched.

Seek out Michael Quinion's other books, and visit his website <www.worldwidewords.org> where you can find a search function if there are any etymologies you'd like to check.

I'd also recommend subscribing to his weekly newsletter, which you can do via the website.

The 2-star review here 'Non-answers to questions' completely misses the point. My reply to that review was:
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I don't buy linguistic works to plough through..." ... bunkum, hearsay and under-researched 'facts & trivia' that appear to be copied from e-mail chains. I want to read books on word and phrase history that provide investigations and give full explanations.

It doesn't matter if we are yet to find the true etymology of a word or phrase; I'm more than pleased to see claptrap from other books disproved.
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on 9 October 2009
I've bought several of Michael Quinion's books and subscribe to his weekly newsletter. I wasn't surprised, therefore, to find I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It explains what (for example) "bulls and bears" on the stoke exchange, and "fair cop" in the movies means, rather than a guide to spelling.
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on 12 June 2014
Looking forward to receiving this one which I have bought for a birthday present for my daughter in law. Thanks.
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on 6 July 2009
Reading this book will make anyone feel like a 'know it all'. V interesting and well written. Highly enjoyable!
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on 25 February 2016
The answers might be word-perfect (as the subtitle claims) in as much as there aren't any grammatical mistakes, but not in the sense of there being definitive answers - which to me makes the title misleading. If you are interested in conjecture about the meaning of words and sayings, you might like this book, but don't expect many clear-cut explanations. By far the commonest theme is 'Nobody really knows but...'

To be fair I've mildly enjoyed dipping into it - but I'm glad it was given to me by a friend rather than my forking out good money for it.
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on 20 August 2009
In this book, as in the author's previous book, Port Out, Starboard Home the answer to many (most?) of the questions is "I don't know." I found it irritating to continually read about hypotheses that turned out to be wrong, only to come up with a blank in the end. I don't buy linguistic works to plough through people's guesswork. Either say outright "Nobody knows," and leave it at that, or (better) don't include the item in the book at all. I know there are those who think that faulty legends and false etymologies are "interesting." In fact, they display a lack of critical thought, and a misunderstanding of the necessity for evidence.
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on 9 October 2009
Anyone interested in our language and where our words and usage come from should read Michael Quinion. He is entertaining and impressively thorough, and not only does he write books he has a fascinating website "World Wide Words" and even a free e-newsletter.
This book is a collection of some of the queries that have been sent in to him for that newsletter. For most of us it isn't something to sit and read through start-to-finish, rather something to dip into for a few minutes at a time - but those minutes will be well spent. You'll learn a lot, and enjoy yourself at the same time.
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on 12 April 2010
A quick and fun read. I laughed aloud at a number of points - and actually learned a bit about some words and phrases along the way. Entertaining and recommended.

Downside: a number of queries about meanings or origins had a response that devolved to the equivalent of, "Don't know."

Re: Amazon.uk. Ordering, shipping and receipt were easy and quick. It also seems Amazon maintains a global sign-on that helps.
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