Etymology and Slang
The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
The Etymologicon
A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
Paperback      ISBN: 0425260798
This perfect gift for readers, writers, and literature majors alike unearths the quirks of the English language. For example, do you know why a mortgage is literally a "death pledge"? Why guns have girls' names? Why "salt" is related to "soldier"? Discover the answers to all of these etymological questions and more in this fascinating book for fans of of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

The Etymologicon is a completely unauthorized guide to the strange underpinnings of the English language. It explains how you get from "gruntled" to "disgruntled"; why you are absolutely right to believe that your meager salary barely covers "money for salt"; how the biggest chain of coffee shops in the world connects to whaling in Nantucket; and what, precisely, the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening. This witty book will awake the linguist in you and illuminate the hidden meanings behind common words and phrases, tracing their evolution through all of their surprising paths throughout history.
Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge: The Book of Mnemonic Devices
Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
The Book of Mnemonic Devices
Paperback      ISBN: 0399533516

When is a "tulip"* not a flower? When it's one of hundreds of mnemonic devices in this comprehensive sourcebook.

From remembering the notes on a scale (Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge) to correctly performing geometric equations (Soh-Cah-Toa) to using "HOMES" for conjuring up the Great Lakes (Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior), mnemonic devices have helped countless students, teachers, and trivia buffs recall key information in a snap-using anagrams, clever rhymes, and word games.

In this comprehensive guide, readers will find a wide spectrum of ingeniously simple mnemonic devices for recalling facts about:

- Science - Math
- Geography - Religion
- Literature - Music
- Social Studies - Law
- Aviation - Zodiac
- Spelling - Mythology
- World History - Sports
- And more

*Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement; Irrestible Grace, and Perserverance of the Saints (The Five Tenets of Calvinism)

Everything Explained That Is Explainable: On the Creation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica's Celebrated Eleventh Edition, 1910-1911
Everything Explained That Is Explainable
On the Creation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica's Celebrated Eleventh Edition, 1910-1911
Hardcover      ISBN: 0307269175

The publication of the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclop dia Britannica in 1911 marked the last stand of the Enlightenment and a turbulent end to an era. The Eleventh Edition summed up the high point of optimism and belief in human progress that dominated Anglo-Saxon thought from the time of the Enlightenment.

Eagerly embraced by hundreds of thousands of middle-class Americans, the Eleventh Edition was read as a twenty-nine-volume anthology of some of the best essays written in English. Among the names of those who contributed to its volumes: T. H. Huxley, Algernon Swinburne, Bertrand Russell; it was the work of 1,500 eminent contributors and was edited by Hugh Chisholm, charismatic star editor.

The Britannica combined scholarship and readability in a way no previous encyclopedia had or ever has again. Within less than a decade after its publication, the Edwardian worldview was at an end: the "unsinkable" White Star Titanic had sunk on its maiden voyage; Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and the Great War had begun.

In Everything Explained That Is Explainable, Denis Boyles tells the audacious, improbable story of twentieth-century American hucksterism and vision that resurrected a dying Encyclop dia Britannica by means of a floundering London Times, and writes of how its astonishing success changed publishing and produced the Britannica's Eleventh Edition, still the most revered--all 44 million words--of English-language encyclopedias, considered by many to be the last great work of the age of reason.

The author writes of the man whose inspiration it was: Horace Everett Hooper, American entrepreneur who stumbled into the book business at sixteen on a hunch that he could make money selling inexpensive editions of classics by direct mail to isolated settlers scattered across the American West. Hooper found an outdated set of reference books gathering dust in a warehouse, bought them for almost nothing, repackaged them, and sold them on credit as "one-shelf libraries" to farmers concerned about their children's education in frontier schools; his Western Book and Stationery Company became one of the largest publishers in the Midwest, sending books directly to readers, bypassing traditional booksellers, and inventing a model that was forever after emulated . . .

Boyles writes that Hooper and his partner, Henry Haxton, a former Hearst reporter and ingenious adman, came across the Encyclop dia Britannica, published by Adam & Charles Black, whose Ninth Edition's final volume, published in 1890, was seen by many as the height of English intellectual achievement. The Ninth had everything an encyclopedia needed. Except readers.

Hooper and Haxton came up with a new market for the encyclopedia's next two editions, which they planned to produce, and approached the then-struggling London Times, which became their publishing partner.

Boyles tells the outlandish, bumpy tale of the making of the Eleventh; of the young staff of university graduates working with fanatical conviction (40,000 entries by 1,500-odd contributors), scattered around the globe . . . more than 200 members of the Royal Society or fellows of the British Academy; diplomats; government officials; officers of learned societies . . . contributions by the most admired writers, thinkers, and scientists of the day; of their scheme to sell the Eleventh Edition and of the storm that erupted around its publication--and after.

An extraordinary tale of American know-how, enterprise, and spirit.
An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition
An Exaltation of Larks
The Ultimate Edition
Paperback      ISBN: 0140170960
A delightfully unexpected, lovingly curated ode to the unique collective nouns that adorn our language, from "a leap of leopards" to "a murder of crows" and beyond, from the inimitable voice behind Inside the Actors Studio

"I am madly in love with collective nouns They make language so colorful and ticklish. . . . An Exaltation of Larks] possess es] an embarrassment of riches (wink wink )." --Lupita Nyong'o, The New York Times

For those who have wondered if the familiar "pride of lions" and "gaggle of geese" were merely the tip of a linguistic iceberg, James Lipton has provided a definitive answer: here are hundreds of equally pithy, often poetic terms he has unearthed and collected into one exhaustive volume. Over years of painstaking research, he embarked on an odyssey that has given us a "slouch of models," a "shrivel of critics," an "unction of undertakers," a "blur of Impressionists," a "score of bachelors," a "pocket of quarterbacks," and many more.

Witty, beautiful, and remarkably apt, An Exaltation of Larks is a brilliant compendium of more than 1,100 resurrected or newly minted contributions to that ever-evolving species, the English language.

The F-Word
The F-Word
Hardcover      ISBN: 0195393112

We all know what frak, popularized by television's cult hit Battlestar Galactica, really means. But what about feck? Or ferkin? Or foul--as in FUBAR, or "Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition"?

In a thoroughly updated edition of The F-Word, Jesse Sheidlower offers a rich, revealing look at the f-bomb and its illimitable uses. Since the fifteenth century, no other word has been adapted, interpreted, euphemized, censored, and shouted with as much ardor or force; imagine Dick Cheney telling Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy to "go damn himself" on the Senate floor--it doesn't have quite the same impact as what was really said. Sheidlower cites this and other notorious examples throughout history, from the satiric sixteenth-century poetry of James Cranstoun to the bawdy parodies of Lord Rochester in the seventeenth century, to more recent uses by Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Ann Sexton, Norman Mailer, Liz Phair, Anthony Bourdain, Junot Diaz, Jenna Jameson, Amy Winehouse, Jon Stewart, and Bono (whose use of the word at the Grammys nearly got him fined by the FCC).

Collectively, these references and the more than one hundred new entries they illustrate double the size of The F-Word since its previous edition. Thousands of added quotations come from newly available electronic databases and the resources of the OED, expanding the range of quotations to cover British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Irish, and South African uses in addition to American ones. Thus we learn why a fugly must hone his or her sense of humor, why Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau muttered "fuddle duddle" in the Commons, and why Fanny Adams is so sweet. A fascinating introductory essay explores the word's history, reputation, and changing popularity over time. and a new Foreword by comedian, actor, and author Lewis Black offers readers a smart and entertaining take on the book and its subject matter.

Oxford dictionaries have won renown for their expansive, historical approach to words and their etymologies. The F-Word offers all that and more in an entertaining and informative look at a word that, while now largely accepted as an integral part of the English language, still confounds, provokes, and scandalizes.

Figures of Speech: 60 Ways To Turn A Phrase
Figures of Speech
60 Ways To Turn A Phrase
Paperback      ISBN: 1880393026

Writing is not like chemical engineering. The figures of speech should not be learned the same way as the periodic table of elements. This is because figures of speech are not about hypothetical structures in things, but about real potentialities within language and within ourselves. The "figurings" of speech reveal the apparently limitless plasticity of language itself. We are inescapably confronted with the intoxicating possibility that we can make language do for us almost anything we want. Or at least a Shakespeare can. The figures of speech help to see how he does it, and how we might.

Therefore, in the chapters presented in this volume, the quotations from Shakespeare, the Bible, and other sources are not presented to exemplify the definitions. Rather, the definitions are presented to lead to the quotations. And the quotations are there to show us how to do with language what we have not done before. They are there for imitation.
Forgotten English
Forgotten English
Paperback      ISBN: 0688166369

Have you ever sent a message via scandaroon, needed a nimgimmer, or fallen victim to bowelhive? Never heard of these terms? That's because they are a thing of the past. These words are alive and well, however, in Forgotten English, a charming collection of hundreds of archaic words, their definitions, and old-fashioned line drawings.

For readers of Bill Bryson, Henry Beard, and Richard Lederer, Forgotten English is an eye-opening trip down a delightful etymological path. Readers learn that an ale connor sat in a puddle of ale to judge its quality, that a beemaster informed bees of any important household events, and that our ancestors had a saint for hangover sufferers, St. Bibiana, a fact pertinent to the word bibulous. Each selection is accompanied by literary excerpts demonstrating the word's usage, from sources such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Chaucer, and Benjamin Franklin. Entertaining as well as educational, Forgotten English is a fascinating addition to word lovers' books.

Heavens to Betsy!: And Other Curious Sayings
Heavens to Betsy!
And Other Curious Sayings
Paperback      ISBN: 0062720112

He's as mad as a hatter

Whether it's like a bump on a log or a bat out of hell, these expressions have been around forever, but we've never really known why ... until now Finally Dr. Funk explains more than 400 droll, colorful, and sometimes pungent expressions of everyday speech. Derived from classical sources, historic events, famous literature, frontier humor, and the frailties of humankind, each of these sayings has an interesting story behind its origin.

If you've ever wondered why when you're in a hurry you are told to hold your horses, wonder no more

How to Speak Brit: The Quintessential Guide to the King's English, Cockney Slang, and Other Flummoxing British Phrases
How to Speak Brit
The Quintessential Guide to the King's English, Cockney Slang, and Other Flummoxing British Phrases
Hardcover      ISBN: 1592408982
The quintessential A to Z guide to British English--perfect for every egghead and bluestocking looking to conquer the language barrier

Oscar Wilde once said the Brits have "everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language."

Any visitor to Old Blighty can sympathize with Mr. Wilde. After all, even fluent English speakers can be at sixes and sevens when told to pick up the "dog and bone" or "head to the loo," so they can "spend a penny." Wherever did these peculiar expressions come from?

British author Christopher J. Moore made a name for himself on this side of the pond with the sleeper success of his previous book, In Other Words. Now, Moore draws on history, literature, pop culture, and his own heritage to explore the phrases that most embody the British character. He traces the linguistic influence of writers from Chaucer to Shakespeare and Dickens to Wodehouse, and unravels the complexity Brits manage to imbue in seemingly innocuous phrases like "All right." Along the way, Moore reveals the uniquely British origins of some of the English language's more curious sayings. For example: Who is Bob and how did he become your uncle? Why do we refer to powerless politicians as "lame ducks"? How did "posh" become such a stylish word?

Part language guide, part cultural study, How to Speak Brit is the perfect addition to every Anglophile's library and an entertaining primer that will charm the linguistic-minded legions.

I Love It When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech
I Love It When You Talk Retro
Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech
1st Edition    Paperback      ISBN: 0312606400


Today's eighteen-year-olds may not know who Mrs. Robinson is, the size of a breadbox, or why going postal refers to a major uproar. Such "retroterms" are words or phrases whose origin lies in our past. I Love It When You Talk Retro discusses these verbal fossils that linger in our national conversation long after the topic they refer to has galloped into the sunset. That could be a person (Charles Ponzi), product (Edsel), radio show (Gang Busters), or ad slogan ("Cha-ching "). How many realize that cooties was World War I slang for lice, or that doofus came from the comic strip Popeye?

Ralph Keyes takes us on an illuminating and engaging tour through what he calls retrotalk. This journey along the highways of history and byways of culture is an invaluable handbook for anyone who's ever wondered about an obscure word or phrase, "I wonder where that came from?" Ralph Keyes's book answers that question. Repeatedly. And is a lot of fun to read.