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Devious Derivations: Popular Misconceptions--And More Than 1,000 True Origins of Common Words and Phrases

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0785817000
ISBN-10: 078581700X
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Editorial Reviews


"There is no more avid, intrepid, and skilled word hunter at work today than Hugh Rawson. In Devious Derivations, he cuts through the tangle of confusing word origins and helps us discover who we are and whence we came."

-- Richard Lederer, "Looking at Language"

"This volume should take a place alongside that old favorite, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable -- close to the dining room table where they both can be turned to whenever mealtimes dissolve into etymological arguments." -- Washington Post Book World

"Hugh Rawson made a lot of literary friends with his previous Wicked Words (if you missed it, find a copy quick) and his newest foray into the English language is an absolute delight, the fruits of a learned man who has a gleam in his eye." -- Coast Book Review Service --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

In this marvelously entertaining book, word maven Hugh Rawson rounds up 1,000 words and phrases whose origins are not what you might expect. Some wiseacre (the word has nothing to do with land measure) may have told you that a tip is given to a waiter "to insure promptness," or that S.O.S. stands for "Save Our Ship," or that hooker is a tribute to the character of Joseph Hooker, the Civil War general. Like hundreds of popular etymologies, these oft-repeated accounts are just too good to be true. Now Mr. Rawson punctures the myths, gives the real derivations, and along the way provides many insights into how language works. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Castle Books (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078581700X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785817000
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,604,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Nat on September 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
A great book for anyone who "thinks" they know where some very popular words and phrases come from.
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