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A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English Hardcover – March 4, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1606520574 ISBN-10: 1606520571 Edition: First Edition

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A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi": The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English + Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pajamas: Popular Expressions-What They Mean and How We Got Them + I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Readers Digest; First Edition edition (March 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606520571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606520574
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #937,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chloe Rhodes is a freelance journalist who has worked for The Telegraph, Guardian and The Times as well as numerous other respected publications. She lives in North London with her husband. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Quite simply put, this book is essential for word smiths.
Mrs. Johnson
I loved the book and found it a compelling read (I'm weird like that) because there was so much information in it.
Sharon Hurley Hall
This is a great new reference work that you might just find yourself curling up with as if it were a novel.
Amy Henry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By tmtrvlr on March 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
There can't be a more American word than "dungarees", right? Actually, according to author Chloe Rhodes, the word dungarees comes from a Hindi word Dungri which is a cotton cloth used for sails and tents in India. This is the type of word information contained in A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi.

Listed alphabetically, the book gives not only the origin of the words we use, but also how they became included in our language. Many of the words we hear regularly, kowtow, alma mater, kudos, and glitch, have their origins in other countries around the world. How appropriate is the origin of the word "paparazzi" which is an Italian word for mosquitoes!

This is an entertaining book filled with information for those with an interest in words and for those who want to use them correctly. This is the most recent book in a series by Reader's Digest.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Holly VINE VOICE on April 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A sheer delight. Like many readers, I love words. I love discovering the origins of words and phrases. Here, I discovered that the origin of paparazzi means mosquito. How appropriate is that? Or how we use the term Al Fresco to mean "in the fresh air" but in Italy it's slang for "in prison".

I was familiar with many of these words and phrases, but not how they came into such wide use. This is one of those fun books that you can just pick up on a whim and entertain yourself. It's a fast, easy read if you want to read it in one sitting. But, I see it placed on a shelf or end table for someone to pick up and peruse for an enlightening few minutes.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Johnson on June 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Quite simply put, this book is essential for word smiths. I received it as a gift and have enjoyed my time reading it, and exercising the little grey cells a la M. Hercule Poirot. I like the mini-history lessons for each word and recommend this book for anyone else who likes reading for enjoyment and wants to delve into a little bit of etymology.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amy Henry TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a great new reference work that you might just find yourself curling up with as if it were a novel. It explores 'the origin of foreign words used in English', and some of them are pretty amusing.

For example, our term paparazzi referred to the Italian word for mosquito and was related to a Fellini film (how appropriate is that!). And when you say someone has a lot of panache, you probably aren't referring to the feather on their hat, but that is where the word derives from: a plume of feather that exuded flair (French origin). Now we consider panache more of an expression of style (i.e. Johnny Depp has the trademark on panache)! Another interesting word in our literary world is denouement, which originated in the French and referred to 'an untying'. That makes sense, as when we get to the denouement of the book all the complexities usually are unravelled and our understanding is clear.

I enjoyed the different choices of phrases and the accurate explanation of what they originally meant. I always thought Quid Pro Quo meant doing something for free, somewhat mixing it up with Pro Bono. Both of my interpretations were wrong: quid pro quo means something done in exchange for something else (not free). Pro Bono means something done 'for the good' as in a public service.

This is a reference work useful to almost anyone, but I can't help but think a high school or college student might especially benefit from the explanations and fast paced instruction. My only disappointment was that the book doesn't offer pronounciations with the phrases. Most are obvious, but a few really could use a guide on how to correctly pronounce the phrase (thus settling many dinner party disputes).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joemmama on May 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Words, phrases, certain sayings we use all the time...do you ever wonder where they came from? "A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi" by Chloe Rhodes lets us in on the origins of things we say every day. From A cappella ( in the manner of the choir) to Zeitgeist (spirit of the time), Chic (elegant) to Sarong (covering), any lover of words will love this book. Examples as well as origins are given alphabetically. This would be a great book for any reader, graduate (high school or college), anyone who is crazy about language.

My Mom instilled me with a love of words, and she would have loved this book! No Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware), needed, this is so much fun!

Get this book for yourself, or for anyone whose Raison d'Etre (reason for being) has anything to do with words. You won't regret it!

I received this book from Julie at FSB Associates for review. Thanks!!
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