Start reading The Story of English in 100 Words on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.
This title is not currently available for purchase
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Story of English in 100 Words [Kindle Edition]

David Crystal
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Pricing information not available.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback --  
Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Book Description

Featuring Latinate and Celtic words, weasel words and nonce-words, ancient words ('loaf') to cutting edge ('twittersphere') and spanning the indispensable words that shape our tongue ('and', 'what') to the more fanciful ('fopdoodle'), Crystal takes us along the winding byways of language via the rude, the obscure and the downright surprising.

In this unique new history of the world's most ubiquitous language, linguistics expert David Crystal draws on words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the first definitively English word was written down in the fifth century ('roe', in case you are wondering).

Editorial Reviews


Crystal's book is full of distractions and delights Daily Express One of [Crystal's] best ... it builds gradually into a kind of linguistic tapestry, packed with abstruse information, wonderfully readable Spectator If the history of language is a sort of labyrinth, David Crystal is an excellent guide The Age, Australia Delicious revelations ... Crystal does an excellent job, not just of tracing the etymology of a word, but of relating it to social history, painting a picture of our times through words Independent on Sunday

About the Author

David Crystal is the foremost expert on English, and honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. He has written many books and published articles in fields ranging from forensic linguistics and ELT to the liturgy and Shakespeare.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1697 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (October 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005FQ1GSO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #653,775 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun December 20, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have been thoroughly enjoying reading this book, one chapter at a time. I've learned so much and will be very sorry when I have finished it. My only criticism is of my purchase. I should have bought a printed copy, rather than the Kindle copy, of this book because I would like to loan it to so many people.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed June 17, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this after reading a quite positive review in the San Francisco Chronicle's Books section, since I have an ongoing interest in the English language. (It's not my mother tongue, but I feel I've mastered it quite well after living in the US for 17 years.) Sadly, while it was often amusing, the work did not live up to my expectations.

It's perhaps best described as 100 short "columns" about random aspects of etymology and word formation. Each column takes specific word as a starting point, but usually that word is just a conversation starter. Sadly, many of the conversations don't go very deep. The least interesting ones degenerate in long lists of words that "also" follow a specific pattern. The best ones taught me interesting things I didn't know before, but there just weren't enough of these. Some of the worst ones seemed to just be improvisations, discussing some of the author's opinions on non-language-related subjects or telling almost-funny jokes.

The author is also quite keen on the new words brought to us by the age of the Internet. Sadly, he appears to be a rather casual Internet user and doesn't have much to add. Often when he tries to show off his knowledge of Internet jargon he misses the mark by emphasizing terms already obsolete or getting them slightly wrong. I suspect he's using some secondary sources.

All in all, not a total waste, but hardly the best $11 I've ever spent.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a 'must,' but gives good value for money. March 24, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It will do. I do not regret purchasing the book; it gave value for money but was perhaps somewhat insufficient. But do buy it, and knowing when doing so that you will pass it on; it is a book that is to be shared.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read August 30, 2012
I decided to buy this book after hearing the author on NPR. I almost never write reviews for products I buy, but this was a great book that anyone could easily read and appreciate. As per the author's preface, this is not an encyclopedia of word origins. It offers much information about word families and language evolution covering topics such as clipping, blends, functional shifts, eponyms and the like. Indeed, because of this, far more than 100 words are covered. While some may criticize Crystal's choices, I like that I'm in the passenger seat as one expert takes me on a journey of his favorites.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Book about Language February 25, 2013
By V7+9
This is a fun book for people who are interested in language, written in 100 small chunks, best suited for reading bit by bit, such as during a morning commute. In discussing 100 words of the English language, Crystal makes interesting comments on a wide variety of phenomena related to the words of a language: how words are coined, how they are borrowed from other languages, how they are used in various social contexts, how they change their meanings over time, how they come in and out of fashion. It is easily accessible for the non-specialist, and an entertaining read for anyone.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
By Athan
Format:Kindle Edition
I just LOVED reading this book.

A few years ago I read Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson and I enjoyed it thoroughly. But I bet that this tiny little tome will have a longer-lasting effect on my appreciation of the English language.

Not only is the author the consummate master of his topic, he's also head over heels in love with it. No exaggeration, you get the feeling he narrowed it down to 100 from his favorite 10,000 words. He weaves in the Celtic, the Anglo-Saxon, the Viking, the Latin and the Norman / French, but does not forget the American, the Indian or even the Pidgin and he goes looking for the medical and the Internet terms that have crept into the language too. As a Greek, and one who speaks five languages, I'm rather miffed he never refers to the Greek roots of several English words, but I regardless thought this was a masterpiece.

What we have here is a celebration of the English Language, rather than a mere story, basically. Reading this book is a bit like having the curator of the British Museum take you through his favorite ten exhibits. You get the history, the context, the evolution, everything.

I'm jealous of David Crystal. He gets paid to share his life's biggest passion.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Search Customer Reviews

More About the Author

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. He has written or edited over 100 books and published numerous articles for scholarly, professional, and general readerships, in fields ranging from forensic linguistics and ELT to the liturgy and Shakespeare. His many books include Words, Words, Words (OUP 2006) and The Fight for English (OUP 2006).

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category