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The Disheveled Dictionary: A Curious Caper Through Our Sumptuous Lexicon 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0395689905
ISBN-10: 0395689902
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Pretty little novelty vocabulary books often provide unimaginative, unpoetic definitions for strange and beautiful words that one could never imagine actually using in a sentence. Karen Elizabeth Gordon's Disheveled Dictionary is quite the opposite. Gordon offers up usable if somewhat underused words (such as "amplitude," "crepuscular," "maudlin," and "recidivistic"), many of which we're not quite sure we know the exact meaning, illustrating them in the wildly creative fashion that she has perfected in her grammar texts (The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, The New Well-Tempered Sentence, and Torn Wings and Faux Pas). "The more ample one's lexicon," writes Gordon (as her alter ego "Yolanta") in the book's preface, "the more supple one's thought, the more daring, charged, engaged." "Jonquil Mapp," another of Gordon's stable of crafty characters, adds that "What's most exciting ... is not where a word has been but where it's going, what you will make of it."

This book is best described by example, so here is Gordon's illustrative use of that excessive pride or self-confidence we call "hubris": " Adipose Rex, a modern drama with ancient Greek overtones, is about a king whose hubris vis-a-vis his heart and his tragic proclivity for tiropitas, pastitsio, and baklava bring on his comeuppance coronary." --Jane Steinberg

From Library Journal

Gordon, who has achieved cult status with whimsical references like The Well-Tempered Sentence (1983), defines an array of daffy, delicious words.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1st edition (August 26, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395689902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395689905
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Amaze your friends, confound your competitors... you're sure to find a half-dozen or so words that are too good not to sprinkle into daily conversation. Gordon's selective dictionary covers the traditional bases by giving definitions and word origins, and using words in sentences, but any similarity to a conventional dictionary ends there (well, it's in alphabetical order, too). It is Gordon's selection of words and phrases and her inspired illustration of their use that make this little book so thoroughly enjoyable. New (to me) words like "callipygian" and "persiflage" are held up to the light by a variety of eccentric characters and fictional excerpts. Even old favorites and less exotic words are given a fresh coat of varnish in Gordon's baroque treatment. The book ambles, rambles, and diverts itself. A treat for anyone who loves the language. Keep it nearby and browse at random.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book incredibly entertaining, and I loved Ms. Gordon's hilarious illustrating sentences and mini-stories. It is obvious that she has a true passion for words, in and of themselves. If you share this passion, you will LOVE this book. If you already have a good vocabulary and are interested in increasing it, you will REALLY LIKE this book. If you are struggling with language AT ALL in ANY WAY, this book will confuse you and probably be a total waste of your money. THE DISHEVLED DICTIONARY is a unique and wonderful rollercoaster ride for the senses, but it's a mental workout, too. Make sure you're ready for both.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What lovely playthings words are!
I enjoyed reviewing old words I've forgotten to use. I spoke them outloud and fell back in love. There are lists of words to wrap around your thoughts and words to find sentances for, words to embrace, and some to abuse, and words for one's private use because no one will ever put them on a billboard.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading this book will increase both your vocabulary and your ability to phrase ideas and concepts much to the amazement of your friends and relatives. A lot of fun to read through - well worth the time.
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Format: Hardcover
wonderfully fun and whimsical dictionary of lesser known words. who doesn't enjoy a good cachinnate? all words have a fun sentence to go along with them: "the truckling tone of his marriage proposal left her flailing and cachinnating helplessly and wondering what he'd actually meant." much like "the new well-tempered sentence", ms Gordon provides and entertaining and fun way to learn the English language. plus again, the clip art for the book is totally fun. I highly recommend this book for any wordsmith out there.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always enjoyed K.E. Gordon's wonderful books on language. Not only are they erudite, they are also very silly, and isn't that the best of combinations? Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Looking for a bowl of quiet cucumber soup? Here it is, a luminous melange of word definitions and usage, mingled with a story line that keeps you turning the pages forward and backward. Join Constanza Zermattress and Vargas Scronx on a stroll through a plethora of outre sentences as examples of word usages.
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Format: Hardcover
I maybe expected more from this author, based on the punctuation book, but it lacked much variety in example sentences, many using the same story lines. I could be spoiled by spending too much time at the Oxford English dictionary at the University library.
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