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Family Words: A Dictionary of the Secret Language of Families (How America Speaks series) Hardcover – May 28, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: How America Speaks series
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Marion Street Press, LLC (May 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933338172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933338170
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 6.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,373,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Remember the time when a relative coined a new word -- at a family occasion or under some unusual circumstance? Such expressions are passed down across generations, enriching the lore and joy of family life. Now, finally, Paul Dickon, author of the bestselling Words and The Official Rules, has collected 750 of these words from families all over the country.

How do you describe the marks left on your skin by an elastic waistband? They're "puckles." Those left by the pillowcase on your face when you wake up? "Brinkles." The gift that's too practical, like an ironing board or a screwdriver? It's a "gonger." And the food particles that stick to plates are (you knew it all along) "frones."

When mathematician Edward Kasner asked his nine-year-old nephew to come up with a word for the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes, the boy answered "googol," a word that is now in standard usage. Other family words that have become mainstream include "nerd" and "humongous." Before you know it, you'll find yourself using the words in this delightful dictionary in everyday conversation. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Paul Dickson is the author of more than 45 books, including The Hidden Language of Baseball, Labels for Locals, and Slang. He lives in Garrett Park, Maryland.

More About the Author

Paul Dickson is the author of more than 45 nonfiction books and hundreds of magazine articles. Although he has written on a variety of subjects from ice cream to kite flying to electronic warfare, he now concentrates on writing about the American language, baseball and 20th century history. His most recent titles include Drunk: The Definitive Drinker's Dictionary, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century and Slang: A Topical Dictionary of Americanisms.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W. D Hickman on January 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Within my family I'm known as "Grumpy." Not because I have an unpleasant disposition, but because the name slides off a todler's tongue with delightful irreverence and shocks the non-family member with the Hickman family negative-turn-positive use of a happy name.

Paul Dickson has captured the special spirit of family language. With three grandsons under four on the ground and another on the way my family has a fast growing need for its own language. "Nina," aka "Mrs. Grumpy" or Barbara feels the same way.

Grumpy (Bill) Hickman, Reston, Va
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Wirkmaa on September 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Although I've suspected that I might be wrong, I've always thought that my family was the only household that had its own lexicon of words and phrases to describe and refer to things both ordinary and unusual. Fearing that others might think that my folks and I were even more odd than we outwardly appeared to be, I kept it all to myself for a long time. But then along came "Family Words" by Paul Dickson.

Now I realize that there is a fascinating and funny world of "inside jargon" common to many people, and Mr. Dickson has tapped into it with his usual wit and intelligence.

Whether you come from a family like mine - where "family words" were almost a second language - or if you grew up sticking strictly to the "King's English" (or something at least reasonably close to it), this is a book that you can't help but enjoy, and I recommend it to anyone who is the least bit curious about this "secret garden" of language, or anyone with a sense of humor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
For years, Paul Dickson has been fascinated by words. But unlike most people, he's done something about it: He collects them. He gathers words the way a butterfly collector snares his prey: He captures the unusual, the archaic, the eosteric and even the madeup. And every once in a while he blesses us all with the fruit of his labor, a volume of words that is more than educational, it's pure entertainment, too. Such is the new "Family Words," Dickson's gift to the great American backbone, the family. Here you will find words that only a mother (also a brother, a sister and a father) would love and recognize. "Family Words" is as enjoyable as eavesdropping on your next-door neighbor, and as informative as well. And it's not just for wordnerds either!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
Every family has its own special, private words, and Paul Dickson, the tireless collector of such things, has gathered hundreds (thousands?) of the most humorous, unusual, imaginative, goofiest and ingenius family words into this book. They get the reader to start thinking of his or her own family's "code words", and Paul Dickson would undoubtedly love to add them to his collection. The book makes a great gift for word-lovers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Young on September 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Family Words: The Dictionary of the Secret Language of Families" is a delightful book that will amuse family members of all ages. Many of the entries will inspire readers to say, "But in our family, we called them ..." Some of the words are appropriate only within an individual family context, such as the Minnesota family members who referred to their grandmother as "99," because 99 percent of the time when the phone rang, it was her. But others could be useful to anyone, such as the family who uses the term "yesternight" for the evening portion of yesterday. One can tell from the tone and style of the book that the author truly loves language, which is one of the reasons this book is such an enjoyable read.
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