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Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words Hardcover – January 1, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-1559722339 ISBN-10: 1559722339 Edition: Expanded

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Carol Publishing; Expanded edition (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559722339
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559722339
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

First it must be known that all 6000 weird words lovingly compiled by Mrs. Byrne are "real" English words, legitimized by at least one major dictionary. That said, the inclusions are delightfully ludicrous, unfailingly obscure and often sadly missing from common parlance. The English language seems the poorer without "furfuraceous" (covered with dandruff), "omphaloskepsis" (meditation while gazing at one's navel) or "blabagogy" (a criminal environment). It's the most addictively interesting dictionary imaginable. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Can't keep a straight face while reading it!
Pauline R. Edington
Each word's definition is clearly and fully explained, complete with its pronunciation and sometimes even a reference to its language of origin.
M. E. Volmar
Mrs. Byrne's dictionary is a little like Granny's cookie jar, chock-full of morsels to sate the craving of any logophile.
"annabelle_lee"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. E. Volmar on June 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This informative, well-researched, very interesting, unique reference presents the meaning of 6000 of the most outlandish, eccentric, and strange legitimate words that are part of our English language. Each word's definition is clearly and fully explained, complete with its pronunciation and sometimes even a reference to its language of origin.
This comprehensive volume is a wonderful resource for trivia enthusiasts and people who just love words, language and slang, and it's perfect for offhanded browsing.
So, if you want to know if you've ever jargogled, marmarized or edulcolated anything, if anyone you know is psittaceous, valgus or a gobemouche, or what a diplasiasmus, a krobylos or lares and penates are, then this is the book for you.
Although most of the words contained in this volume are not fit for use in everyday conversations, this is still a fun way to discover new words with precise, astonishing and even outrageous meanings.
Overall, this book is a delightful, entertaining source of curious words and intriguing terms just waiting to be found.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1997
Format: Paperback
My copy of Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary is, by far, the most dilapidated, dog-eared, written-upon and coffee-stained book now in my possession.

It is not because I hate the book that I have so thoroughly destroyed it. It is, rather, the fact that I refer to it all the time, and take copious notes -- which wind up all over its pages.

If you love words, this is the book I would recommend. You will find an inexhaustible supply of some of the most arcane and ludibund words in our language within these pages.

A great gift for the rantallion in us all!

Dave Beckwith

Founder/President

Charlotte Internet Society
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter A. List on August 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was given an earlier printing of this book when I first learned to read, and I think it has something to do with my childhood nickname of "Dictionary Breath." It has remained among my most treasured possessions!

While some of the words don't really seem to merit an entry in this book over its a delightful collection. There are some words such as "grassation" (to lie in wait to attack) which are so incredibly useful I don't know why they aren't in more common circulation.

I would like to see the etymology included, but speculating about a word's etymology and then looking it up elsewhere has become part of the game for me and my friends.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Parsons on August 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
A wonderful resource for logophiles who have already searched through a standard unabridged dictionary. If you love words, you will love this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Laurel F. Parker on October 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I bought this for my son when he was 10. He wore it to tatters, so I am here on Amazon to replace it for him. He's now 15, and has been bemoaning it's loss for about a year. He used to carry this around and use it as an ice breaker, and other kids his age thought it was really cool. He's gone on to Shakespeare, Plato, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Keys to the Kingdom etc.but Mrs. Byrnes remains his all time favorite book.

Dictionaries are rarely considered pleasure reading, but this one definately fits that bill. An advantage for a young reader is that they can get a lot of knowledge without reading a lot. Yup - Intellectual fast food. Could be addictive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Swan on February 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Etymology is a guilty pleasure of mine-- and this book is the guiltiest of them all! Deliciously obscure words all at my fingertips...what more could i ask for. This copy was hard to come by... i think it's out of print now and so if you happen to see a used copy somewhere, no matter how dog-earred, grab it! You won't be disappointed. It's a gem.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L. Berek on December 26, 2009
Format: Unknown Binding
Whether you are a sectary compiler of sesquipedelian logisms or simply wish to eschew obfuscation, here is an entertaining collection of words of the English language you are unlikely to find anywhere else, from aasvogel to zzxjoanw. My only misgiving is that the etymologies are not included, though some of the definitions state the source of the word if it is sufficiently unfamiliar. Linguists and wordsmiths will delight in this collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R.G. on September 18, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mrs. Byrne's dictionary is indeed rich with useful and uncommon terms. In a quick at random browsing through the dictionary I checked and compared Byrane's headwords to other sources as Franklin's electronic-dictionary Merriam-Webster MWD-1500, which has 400,000 definitions and 500,000 synonyms; and M-W's Unabridged Dictionary ISBN #: 978-0517151419. I chose 13 terms present in Byrne's dictionary which were omitted in the electronic-dictionary and looked them up in M-W's Unabridged Dictionary; out of the 13 terms listed below, only 2 terms were found ("pervicacious" and "oniomania" ), the 13 therms were : "philalethe" one who loves to forget; "humstrum" second rate or defective musical instrument; "maschalephidroasis" massive sweating of the armpits; "gapo" forest near a river which is partly inundated every rainy season; "genicon" sexual partner imagined by one who is dissatisfied with her actual partner; "geromorphism" condition of appearing older than one is; "pervicacious" extremely obstinate, willful; "philauty" self-love, selfishness; "philalethist" a truth-lover; "oniomania" a mania for buying things; "kinology" physic of motion; "musard" absentminded, dreamer or a fool; " monepic" consisting of one word or of one word sentences. To my surprise Windows' word processor does not recognize the above 13 terms either, each one of these headwords has a misspelled red line beneath it.
From the above one realizes that Byrne's dictionary consists of useful but very rare terms taken from any field one can think of. Since these terms are of seldom daily usage in speech, journalism and literature; here actually lies the disadvantage of terms being organized in an alphabetical order, as is in Byrne's dictionary .
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