- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: The Lyons Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1585746827
- ISBN-13: 978-1585746828
- Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.6 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Common Phrases: And Where They Come From Paperback – September 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Clichs, maxims, idioms what are the origins of the countless sayings we repeat? Somebody somewhere said "fly off the handle" for the first time. In Common Phrases and Where They Come From, Myron Korach and John Mordock research the often metaphorical, often image-driven and always taken-for-granted phrases that infuse our daily speech. "Gone haywire," for instance, comes from farmers baling hay using, of course, hay wire, which often tangled, broke, got wrapped around cows or somehow misbehaved. "Feather in your cap" can be traced to various tribal rituals; in early Hungary, it was decreed that "none might wear a feather but he who has slain a Turk." The phrase "cock and bull story," coined by Luther's first followers in "the aftermath of the Reformation," refers to papal bulls, which were stamped with an image of St. Peter and a cock. Wordsmiths everywhere will be delighted.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Attorney Korach has spent a lifetime researching the origins of phrases while sifting through old journals and books in libraries and archives. He did not, however, keep records of his sources. Later, when he began preparing this word history, he and coeditor Mordock were able to verify many, but not all, of these sources in general reference works. In the introduction, the editors show how much our culture relies on idiomatic speech to enliven discourse, a point further demonstrated by the more than 150 well-known phrases whose interesting histories they have provided. The arrangement of phrases is loosely thematic, with one to several paragraphs devoted to each. Comparing some of these phrases with their counterparts in The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins (Facts on File, 2000) shows how difficult it is to pin down etymology definitively; the explanations for "spill the beans," "take with a grain of salt," and "let the cat out of the bag" all reflect some disagreement. Entertaining and enlightening, this would be a useful addition to word history collections, but libraries with limited budgets might make better use of the more extensive and still affordable paperback edition of the Facts On File encyclopedia. Katie Sasser, Bowdoin Coll. Lib., Brunswick, ME
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Now as reference books go, CPAWTCF is terrible: less than 400 entries is very scanty, only the "tip of the iceberg" as far as colorful phrases of our language go; the organization is baffling to me, as it divides the idioms under chapter headings like Big Daddies, Scrapes and Toothbrush Day instead of alphabetically; and the text is conversational in tone rather than scholarly (whatever that means). But then again, the author denies that he meant to write this as a reference book so much as a *history* book. Quote, "to make aware of historical circumstances that produced today's brief, colorful phrases that convey powerful meanings" and "to illustrate the way our language is shaped by our past history and how this history influences our current communications" are the real agenda of CPAWTCF. Korach doesn't bother to include listings that don't further this, such as "top banana". I think that the storytelling feel of each entry, usually extended for at least two paragraphs each, serves this purpose well.
I might give CPAWTCF to somebody that has a mild interest in trivia, or history, or both. People who need a serious reference for clich?s and idioms would do better to look for Roger's Dictionary of Cliches (2,000 listings) or the Facts on File Dictionary of Cliches (4,000 listings). But for fun bathroom reading, Common Phrases can't be beat!
-Andrea, aka Merribelle