Start reading The Word on Words on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.
Test Prep AP SAT GMAT MCAT Learn more Discover Test Prep Central
Read for Free
with Kindle Unlimited

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Word on Words [Kindle Edition]

Norman German
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.95
Kindle Price: $2.99
You Save: $15.96 (84%)
Kindle Unlimited Read this title for free and get unlimited access to over 700,000 titles. Learn More

  • Length: 128 pages
  • Prime members can borrow this book and read it on their devices with Kindle Owners Lending Library.
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
Kindle Edition $2.99  
Paperback $18.95  
Kindle Delivers
Kindle Delivers
Subscribe to the Kindle Delivers monthly e-mail to find out about each month's Kindle book deals, new releases, editors' picks and more. Learn more (U.S. customers only)

Book Description

Awarded "Best of 2011" in Arts & Letters by Kirkus Review!

This is NOT your parents’ vocabulary book.

The Word on Words uses interesting word origins and humor as memory devices for the reader to build a dynamic vocabulary with practical applications in education, business, law, and other fields.

The Word on Words is a new kind of vocabulary book, combining learning and entertainment like no text you’ve ever read. It defines 1,500 words in the context of fascinating essays about art, history, literature, pop culture, sports, and psychology. The book also emphasizes the playful aspects of language—hence its subtitle, The Play of Language. As my wife says, “You learn better if you have a smile on your face.”

The book has five focuses: vocabulary, etymology, mnemonic devices, usage, and the ludic or playful aspects of language. The Word on Words is ideal for those preparing for aptitude or admission tests such as the SAT and ACT. It’s perfect, too, as a supplemental text in ESL classes for those acquiring English as a second language.

It’s all in here: humorous explanations of palindromes, acronyms, anagrams, spoonerisms, and false splitting—the way “a napple” transformed into “an apple”—in the context of revelatory essays about phobias, Mother’s Day, the birds and the bees, Father’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, euphemisms, and the origins of the days of the week and months of the year: all emphasized by entertaining end-of-chapter tests and crossword puzzles!

*If supported by your device, like Kindle Fire or iPad, The Word on Words is in full color!

**See for the LARGE full-color paperback (8-by-10 inches).

CAUTION: The Word on Words is NOT ideal for viewing on small readers because of charts and graphics.

KIRKUS REVIEW (posted in its entirety) The English language gets pulled up by its roots for purposes of entertainment, enlightenment and vocabulary building in this sprightly linguistic romp. The author, an English professor, introduces readers to some of the knottier words in the language through an approach that mixes analysis, history and lots of engaging anecdotes. His method is to seize on dusty old lexical roots, usually from Latin but also from Greek, Old English, Norse and French, and follow their branchings through the modern English words derived from them, with plenty of lore and intriguing digressions thrown in to make the pedagogy go down easy. He traces the Latin verb spectare (to watch), for example, through its many incarnations, from spectacle to expectant, while tossing in allusions to Shakespeare and Byron and an aside on the evolution of false eyes as defensive camouflage in the animal kingdom. German takes a meandering path through the lexicon, always happy to wander off on oddball excursions to, say, palindromes (“senile felines”), spoonerisms (after Rev. Spooner, who reminded one bridegroom that it’s “kisstomary to cuss the bride”), bizarre phobias (arachibutyrophobia, he says, is the fear of sticky peanut butter), lyrically named bird collectives (exaltations of larks, wisps of snipe and parliaments of owls), unsafe anagrams (rearrange mother-in-law and you get “woman Hitler”) and miscellaneous life lessons (“[n]ever use a poly-syllabic Latin word where a one-syllable Anglo-Saxon word will do”). Along the way, German defines over 1,500 big, troublesome words and reinforces reader retention with engaging exercises, including crossword puzzles and fill-in-the-blank quizzes that require one to insert the words aardvark, blasphemy, cremains, cyborg and eunuch into plausible sentences. It’s a fun read that sparkles with photographs, bright colors and crazy-quilt fonts. But this smorgasbord is still a serious textbook—readers will gain not just a store of factoids, but a sharpened ability to analyze new words and a deeper appreciation for the history and beauty of the language. Lively, informative and thoroughly beguiling

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Norman German is an award-winning teacher and writer who has taught vocabulary and etymology courses for over thirty years. In addition to publishing nearly 50 pop articles on various aspects of language, his essay “The Veil of Words in ‘The Minister’s Black Veil’” was singled out in 1990 as a significant contribution to Nathaniel Hawthorne scholarship. Among his four novels, the best-selling A Savage Wisdom imaginatively reconstructs the life of Toni Jo Henry, the only woman executed in Louisiana’s electric chair. Dr. German has also published articles on Ernest Hemingway, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ray Carver, James Dickey, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, and other important American writers. His short stories have been featured in leading literary magazines like Shenandoah and The Virginia Quarterly Review, as well as commercial venues, including Salt Water Sportsman and Sport Fishing. Norman has studied literature, linguistics, Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, and German at McNeese State University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is a professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Product Details

  • File Size: 8030 KB
  • Print Length: 128 pages
  • Publisher: River Road Press (May 6, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004ZS87NA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,869 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All-In-One Fun and Learning August 15, 2011
Ten reasons for buying this book:
1) You are a nerd who loves words:
2) You are a writer and want to improve your vocabulary;
3) You are preparing for an aptitude or admission exam and need that extra "umpf" to boost your score;
4) You love learning trivial factoids;
5) You plan on auditioning for "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?";
6) You never know whether to use "regardless" or "irregardless";
7) You can read it aloud while taking a road trip, assuming you aren't the driver;
8) You can obtain knowledge while performing your daily constitutional;
9) You can do something constructive while killing time in the doctor's office;
10) You are taking Dr. German's etymology class.

The author has put together a playful and fascinating collection of word origins that can be read a little here and a little there with no hurry to get to the end of the book. Take your time, and enjoy learning little known facts about the English language. If you're up to the challenge, do the quizzes and crossword puzzles at the end of each chapter. Loved it!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To really know anything August 9, 2011
By Vernon
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To really know anything or anyone you need to know their history, their heritage, their reputation. In slightly more than 100 pages, Dr. German creates a lasting friendship with some of the most important words you will ever read. Often with tongue in cheek, he introduces you to the miracle of language; the infinite use of finite means. You have just a glimpse of what can be done with only 26 characters. It is indeed the play of language. Great refresher. Great preparation for entrance exams. Highly recommended. Who knew vocabulary could be so much fun?
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Word September 15, 2011
The Word on Words is "the last word" in an extremely readable and entertaining book on the origin and evolution of our English language. The author packed every page with fascinating and amusing tidbits about words we use every day, and he gives us general rules that apply to the components of words that have various prefixes and suffixes. So, while you are reading a very entertaining book, you are also painlessly absorbing an enormous amount of understanding as to the how's, why's, and root meanings of our language. When you finish this book your head will be spinning with the wealth of word knowledge you have attained. Get this book for a student who doesn't like his English classes. He just might change his tune!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and fun July 2, 2011
By Lisa w
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love the graphics and puzzles. Easy and fun to read. My husband, who has taught Latin says he would use this book in his Latin classes. A must have for teachers and students alike.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Barrel of Laughs May 24, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I've been interested in word origins since nursing-school days when I took a course in biological Latin and Greek. I laughed so much that my daughter STOLE the book from me. Now I hear strings of giggles through closed doors, punctuated by howls of laughter. But it's informative, too. "Utopia" literally means "no place"--ha!, so true! The author also straightens us out on usages like jibe vs. jive, compliment vs. complement--helpful stuff for any student, high school or college. On EVERY page, I learned 10 to 15 fascinating words and word origins. Get it! If you don't laugh 5 times per page, you don't have a giggle box.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome, fun and incredibly informative read!! June 4, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Word on Words" by Norman German is a treasure chest of the English language from cover to cover. The facts revealed to us in this witty, educational book are so entertaining and a lot of fun to share. Each time I open it I'm dumbfounded that I had never been taught, or had thought of on my own, very obvious origins of words that we use DAILY. I think the author's personality really comes through on the pages of this book and part of what makes this learning experience so much fun!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must-have for english students June 15, 2011
By Lacy M
I recieved this book as a gift and it is absolutely a live saver! It makes it very easy to learn the meanings of difficult SAT words... other books give only the definitions & require hours of self studying and never really helped me actually learn. I would definitely recommend this. You will feel ten times smarter after reading it!! Also it is very entertaining so you will never be bored.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Specific review March 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Some books just aren't right for an e-reader, and this is one of them. It relies heavily on charts which are too small to be readable on the kindle. As far as the content of the book, I find it somewhat smarmy and a bit demeaning: "I bet you don't know that 'Monday' refers to the moon"; well yes, in fact, I do. Just because I'm reading a book about words doesn't mean I don't have a decent vocabulary to start with. I've read about half and probably won't finish it.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
I liked all I could read. There are pages too small print to read.
Published 6 months ago by Mary Norton
3.0 out of 5 stars Words of a feather
I was alittle disappointed. Most of the material I already knew and I think I found at least one mistake.
Published 15 months ago by mjmulgrew
5.0 out of 5 stars The Word on Words -- Finally, no arcane words!
I bought this on I liked this book very much. The author has an interesting, engaging and conversational way of introducing differing words both/either as the main... Read more
Published 20 months ago by C. S. Garcia
3.0 out of 5 stars I like it but I felt like I was reading a book for grade schoolers
This book has a playfulness to it but almost too much of one. Each chapter has little quizzes and puzzles that make me feel like I'm reading a kids book. Read more
Published on January 30, 2013 by Fizzle
5.0 out of 5 stars The Word on Words
This is a most interesting little book. It's accurate, yet filled with good humor and lots of witty quotes. Read more
Published on December 26, 2012 by Ewart Tarradath
5.0 out of 5 stars Words Unveiled
This book is one of the most entertaining, but also highly educational books I have ever had the privilege of laying my eyes upon. Read more
Published on January 16, 2012 by T. Koenig
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and ever-raining of interesting information
I've had the pleasure of being a student under Dr German, and became quite curious upon learning of this book's existence.

I'm glad to have fed such curiosity.. Read more
Published on November 30, 2011 by CW717
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy English
Amazon suggested this book to me when I was browsing my own book's Amazon webpage so I bought it. Like the author, I am a word nut and fascinated with the power and the... Read more
Published on November 23, 2011 by Walker Royce
Search Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Dr. Norman German is an English professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he is the fiction editor of Louisiana Literature. His short stories about fishing, track and field, and baseball appear in literary and commercial magazines, including Shenandoah, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Sport Fishing, Gray's Sporting Journal, and Salt Water Sportsman, which also published his essay "Rehabilitating Hemingway."

Norman is married to artist Raejean Clark. They live on the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with their dog, The Pupster (see photos). In the first photo, Norman sits on a cypress stump that washed over their fence during the 7-foot storm surge of Hurricane Ike. Now, he no longer gets writer's block; he gets stumped!

Norman has three award-winning novels and is [no longer!] seeking a publisher for his baseball novel Switch-Pitchers, in which Hemingway smuggles twin Cuban pitchers to the United States for a shot at major-league fame. The novel's first chapter was published in Elysian Fields Quarterly as a short story titled "The Havana Home Run." BlueWater Press published the novel in February 2010; it has reached #26 in the Sports category on

Norman's novel A Savage Wisdom, based on the life of the only woman executed in Louisiana's electric chair (for a 1940 Valentine's Day murder), has reached #5 in the competitive category "Murder & Mayhem."

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