- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Smithsonian Books; 1st edition (October 7, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1588342190
- ISBN-13: 978-1588342195
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,585,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds: Ingenious Tales of Words and Their Origins 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Logophile Quinion, who writes a column about new words for the Daily Telegraph, proves his knowledge of familiar phrases in this energetic look at common English words and idioms. The first known use of the term "cut and dried," for example, occurred in 1710, in reference to an uninspired sermon; like herbs precut for sale in markets, the sermon lacked freshness. The notion of a "graveyard shift" did not arise from Victorian-era workers minding cemeteries to make sure people werent accidentally buried alive ("I love such stories, complete and utter hogwash though they are," notes the author), but dates from the early years of the 20th century, and is merely an evocative term for the night shift. From "Akimbo" (perhaps Old Norse in origin) to "Zzxjoanw" (an etymological hoax rather than a real word), Quinion tours the English language, not always offering definitive answers but generally providing the next best thing: good theories.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Words lovers, get ready to have some myths shattered. Hot dog didn't originate with a cartoonist who couldn't spell frankfurter. Thomas Crapper--and he would probably be relieved to know this--did not give us the word crap. The word cop is not an acronym for "constable on patrol." When he is not busting myths, the author (who runs the World Wide Words Web site) offers up origins of words and phrases most readers will probably have wondered about. We're all familiar with the phrase "happy as a clam," but why a clam? We know what a 10-gallon hat is, but how did it get its name? And what the heck is a ballyhoo, anyway? The book is simply organized--alphabetically, of course--and endlessly illuminating. Quinion's research and documentation are impeccable, and when he needs to make a leap of imagination, he does so gracefully. For word lovers, this book is indispensable. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
One nice touch at the end is a "Webliography", which gives several language resources available on the World Wide Web. I do not know if Mr. Quinion coined the word but it serves a good descriptive purpose. Future books of all sorts should provide such a separate listing of additional Web resources for the benefit of their readers.