Etymology and Slang
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.

Informal English: Puncture Ladies, Egg Harbors, Mississippi Marbles, and Other Curious Words and Phrases of North America
Informal English
Puncture Ladies, Egg Harbors, Mississippi Marbles, and Other Curious Words and Phrases of North America
Paperback      ISBN: 0743254937

Gleaned from antiquated dictionaries, dialect glossaries, studies of folklore, nautical lexicons, historical writings, letters, novels, and miscellaneous sources, Informal English offers a captivating treasure trove of linguistic oddities that will not only entertain but also shed light on America's colloquial past. Among the gems are:

  • Surface-coal: cow dung, widely used for fuel in Texas
  • Bone-orchard: in the Southwest slang for a cemetery
  • Chawswizzled: confounded in Nebraskan idiom. I'll be chawswizzled
  • Leather-ears: to Cape Cod inhabitants, a person of slow comprehension
  • Puncture lady: a southwestern expression for a woman who prefers to sit on the sidelines at a dance and gossip rather than dance, often puncturing someone's reputation

Whether the entries are unexpected twists on familiar-sounding expressions or based on curious old customs, this wide-ranging assortment of vernacular Americanisms will amaze and amuse even the most hard-boiled curmudgeon.
The Logodaedalian's Dictionary of Interesting and Unusual Words
The Logodaedalian's Dictionary of Interesting and Unusual Words
Paperback      ISBN: 087249683x

Lists the meaning of difficult and obscure English words, and offers examples of their use from the works of top British and American writers

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation
An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Hardcover      ISBN: 1607747103
From the author of Eating the Sun, an artistic collection of more than 50 drawings featuring unique, funny, and poignant foreign words that have no direct translation into English

Did you know that the Japanese language has a word to express the way sunlight filters through the leaves of trees? Or that there's a Finnish word for the distance a reindeer can travel before needing to rest?

Lost in Translation
brings to life more than fifty words that don't have direct English translations with charming illustrations of their tender, poignant, and humorous definitions. Often these words provide insight into the cultures they come from, such as the Brazilian Portuguese word for running your fingers through a lover's hair, the Italian word for being moved to tears by a story, or the Swedish word for a third cup of coffee.

In this clever and beautifully rendered exploration of the subtleties of communication, you'll find new ways to express yourself while getting lost in the artistry of imperfect translation.
Ok: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word
The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word
Hardcover      ISBN: 0195377931

It is said to be the most frequently spoken (or typed) word on the planet, more common than an infant's first word ma or the ever-present beverage Coke. It was even the first word spoken on the moon. It is "OK"--the most ubiquitous and invisible of American expressions, one used countless times every day. Yet few of us know the hidden history of OK--how it was coined, what it stood for, and the amazing extent of its influence.

Allan Metcalf, a renowned popular writer on language, here traces the evolution of America's most popular word, writing with brevity and wit, and ranging across American history with colorful portraits of the nooks and crannies in which OK survived and prospered. He describes how OK was born as a lame joke in a newspaper article in 1839--used as a supposedly humorous abbreviation for "oll korrect" (ie, "all correct")--but should have died a quick death, as most clever coinages do. But OK was swept along in a nineteenth-century fad for abbreviations, was appropriated by a presidential campaign (one of the candidates being called "Old Kinderhook"), and finally was picked up by operators of the telegraph. Over the next century and a half, it established a firm toehold in the American lexicon, and eventually became embedded in pop culture, from the "I'm OK, You're OK" of 1970's transactional analysis, to Ned Flanders' absurd "Okeley Dokeley " Indeed, OK became emblematic of a uniquely American attitude, and is one of our most successful global exports.

"An appealing and informative history of OK."
--Washington Post Book World

"After reading Metcalf's book, it's easy to accept his claim that OK is 'America's greatest word.'"
--Erin McKean, Boston Globe

"Entertaininga treat for logophiles."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Metcalf makes you acutely aware of how ubiquitous and vital the word has become."
--Jeremy McCarter, Newsweek
Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language
Origins of the Specious
Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language
Paperback      ISBN: 0812978102

Do you cringe when a talking head pronounces "niche" as NITCH? Do you get bent out of shape when your teenager begins a sentence with "and"? Do you think British spellings are more "civilised" than the American versions? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you're myth-informed.

In Origins of the Specious, word mavens Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman reveal why some of grammar's best-known "rules" aren't--and never were--rules at all. This playfully witty, rigorously researched book sets the record straight about bogus word origins, politically correct fictions, phony fran ais, fake acronyms, and more. Here are some shockers: "They" was once commonly used for both singular and plural, much the way "you" is today. And an eighteenth-century female grammarian, of all people, is largely responsible for the all-purpose "he." From the Queen's English to street slang, this eye-opening romp will be the toast of grammarphiles and the salvation of grammarphobes. Take our word for it.
Phrases and Idioms Paper
Phrases and Idioms Paper
by Spears
Paperback      ISBN: 0844203424

This quick-access book defines and explains 2,300 confusing American English phrases and idioms, making their meaning crystal clear. Completely indexed.

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages
Reading the OED
One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages
Hardcover      ISBN: 0399533982

An obsessive word loveras account of reading the Oxford English Dictionary cover to cover. aIam reading the OED so you donat have to. If you are interested in vocabulary that is both spectacularly useful and beautifully useless, read on...a So reports Ammon Shea, the tireless, word-obsessed, and more than slightly masochistic author of Reading the OED, The word loveras Mount Everest, the OED has enthralled logophiles since its initial publication 80 years ago. Weighing in at 137 pounds, it is the dictionary to end all dictionaries. In 26 chapters filled with sharp wit, sheer delight, and a documentarianas keen eye, Shea shares his year inside the OED, delivering a hair-pulling, eye-crossing account of reading every word, and revealing the most obscure, hilarious, and wonderful gems he discovers along the way.

Say What?: Colloquialisms
Say What?
Paperback      ISBN: 1432727923

Proverbs, Tall Tales, and Humorous Sayings of a Bygone Era

Fred G. Wilson's childhood was set against the backdrop of The Great Depression and World War II, formative years that shaped his own character and the character of a nation. "Having a sense of humor seemed to ease the misery of those bygone days," he writes, "and people poked fun at each other and sought to make light of the woes they were experiencing. Out of this era came some colorful, humorous, and enlightened sayings. In every part of our nation, there were colloquial expressions that summed up the feelings of the local region. This book contains some of these...Many of these expressions were learned at home from Mom and Dad. This was before television and we learned to amuse ourselves with 'home-grown' entertainment. Farm work, taking care of the livestock, and the many chores kept us busy. When I reflect back on those days, I wouldn't change them even if I could..." Country folk have a language all their own. In Say What?, author Fred G. Wilson has gathered many of these expressions in order to save them for future generations, shedding a light on what it was like to grow up during the forties and fifties in rural America.
Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms
Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms
Paperback      ISBN: 0590381571

This guide to idioms provides the student with an "ace up your sleeve " Idioms bring color to our speech every day. Included are idioms from Native American and African American speech as well as the Bible, Aesop, and Shakespeare.