The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wordsmiths start young, scribbling in the margin of school notebooks scintillating, ruminate, Antofagasta. And later, define favorite words, gathering a personal, perhaps private collection: Robespierre, garrulous, existential. Phil Cousineau has it in spades. Beyond the sound, the lyrical or harshness, he pursues the etymology, the path taken to become part of the vocabulary we speak and read. And far from binding them selfishly to himself, he shares. The Painted Word follows the 30 books he has created already, a treasury, a compendium, each word with its derivation spelled out in a compact paragraph."
—The Portland Book Review

"An invaluable tool for the conversationalist."
Galway Advertiser

"Reading this book, with its staggering vocabulary, requires an almost excessive amount of attention, but for an avid wordsmith it’s worth the effort. Cousineau introduces quirky words (often about which a reader can’t help but think, “There’s actually a word for that?”) as well as ordinary ones that have curious pasts. He delivers them all with the enthusiasm of an explorer on the verge of profound discovery, and a wicked sense of humor. The Painted Word is a selective dictionary unleashed and gone wild."
—Portland Book Review

"But this isn’t simply a collection of evocative and uncommon words; it’s a testament to the vibrant, ever-evolving nature of language. The shift of usage, definition, and popularity for hundreds of words over the centuries provides fascinating insight into the culture of a given time period, especially what was interesting, important, and frivolous at the time. It’s a time capsule and tribute all at once, hoping to fuel a fellow verbivore’s linguistic delights or to spark a love of the language’s highways, byways, and dirt roads. On all accounts, The Painted Word is a joyous success."
–The San Francisco Book Review

"The English language has been far from pure, as speakers have taken languages from anything and everything they encounter. The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins explores the origins of many words we use, and their evolution throughout history. From compound words that become simply words, loan words, and how words lost all meaning to pick up another one entirely. The Painted Word is a worthy addition to any language studies reference collection, recommended."
—Kristin L. Arola & Anne Frances Wysocki, eds, Utah State University Press

"Reading the pages of this beguiling paperback, we sense Cousineau's delight and enthusiasm for words and their ability to enchant and mesmerize. The set-up is sharing a special word, delivering a short essay on it, and then listing companion words that are close to it. Some of our favorite entries are ensorcell (to bewitch or enchant), fathom (to understand the depths), flabbergast (to astonish), flamboyant (theatrical), gloaming (twilight), plucky (courageous), and voluptuous (desirable). Pass The Painted Word on to your friends or family members who love books in the way Kenko does: "The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.""
—Spirituality and Practice


"Reading The Painted Word, with its staggering vocabulary, requires an almost excessive amount of attention, but for an avid wordsmith it’s worth the effort. Cousineau introduces quirky words (often about which a reader can’t help but think, “There’s actually a word for that?”) as well as ordinary ones that have curious pasts. He delivers them all with the enthusiasm of an explorer on the verge of profound discovery, and a wicked sense of humor. The Painted Word is a selective dictionary unleashed and gone wild."
–Portland Book Review

"Fun, fiasco, pandemonium, checkmate, swashbuckler, ubuntu, dromomania…do you know the stories behind these words? Phil does and he shares these and hundreds of other words in his latest book."
—Radio Alice

“A mystagogue, a carrytale and a thaumaturge, Cousineau makes us Argus-eyed to the ubuntu of the aprocryphal and Gemutlichkeit it provides, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you definitely need this book.”
—Lemony Snicket

"For most of our busy lives words are mere tools. Not so with The Painted Word. Here, they're not mechanisms or background music, they're the beloved riffs of favorite songs mesmerizingly amplified through borrowed speakers. So you find yourself sitting a while and really listening to nuances you have never quite heard before. I sat a very long while with Phil's inspiring collection of words and the unexpected commonness of so many of them made the finery of their generously-revealed attributes all the more spellbinding."
—Simon Hertnon, author of Endangered Words

"When Phil Cousineau and Gregg Chadwick join creative forces it is an important event. This historic collaboration shines with fresh insights into both language and art."
— Alexander Eliot, author of 300 Years of American Painting and The Global Myths

"If The Painted Word were a club act, I'd sit there drinking in Cousineau's revelations, tales and mythologies until they kicked me out of the joint. Reading this brew of etymology, history, lore, and pop connections, with lambent illustrations by Gregg Chadwick, is just as intoxicating. A Cousineau riff on a (passionately selected) word is like Mark Twain meets Coleridge meets Casey Stengel meets---well, everyone who's fun and informative, whether the riff is on autologophagist (someone who eats his/her words) or jack, which, believe me, the world-traveled Cousineau knows when it comes to language. "
—Arthur Plotnik, author of The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts Into Words

"Phil Cousineau’s The Painted Word is a gift to anyone who loves words. From bafflegab and bloviate to skirl and snollygoster, Cousineau builds a “carousel of words” that will infuse any reader’s vocabulary with new life."
—Kate Hopper, author of Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers

"This historic collaboration of writer Phil Cousineau and artist Gregg Chadwick shines with fresh insights.
— Alexander Eliot, author of 300 Years of American Painting and The Global Myths

"The Painted Word is Phil Cousineau's Pointilist Portrait of the Artist As A Mirror of His Words. From the Yiddish roots of Copasetic to the cracked art of Craqueleur, Cousineau's latest Portrait of Our Language is his own warmly personal Rembrandt masterpiece!"
—Alan Kaufman, author of Drunken Angel; Editor, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry

"This delectable banquet of words in The Painted Word is a welcome antidote to the bland and pallid pablum that too often passes for language nowadays."
-- John Michael Greer, author of Apocalypse Not

"Phil Cousineau takes us on an insightful journey to discover the essence of ideas that form our thoughts and feelings. It’s a masterful detective story that crosses continents and centuries to uncover the meaning behind the core elements of our own culture. He reveals how everyday words developed from mythic metaphors, and how many fantastic concepts sprang from hilariously mundane things. Words are how our minds make pictures. The book paints a fascinating landscape of how the history of these tools of thought helps us make sense of the world we live in, and ourselves."
—Jeff Hoke, author of The Museum of Lost Wonder

The masterfulness of The Painted Word is its re-telling of lost tales, illustrating the absurdities, tragedies and comedies of words—all through Cousineau’s detailed, cinematic storytelling, which includes babbling parrots, bawdy 18th Century lairs, pirate Bugis of ferocious seas, and hundreds of other word stories."
—Nick Belardes, author of Random Obsessions: Trivia You Can't Life Without

"Having opened the treasure chest that is language in Wordcatcher, Cousineau joins us in plunging our hands deep into its riches and tossing glittering coins -- "Carousel! Monogashi! "-- high in the air. The Painted Word is a celebration that brings the glamour back to grammar."
—Clint Marsh, author of The Mentalist's Handbook

From the Back Cover

Lore for Logophiliacs and Word Hoarders

Deepak Chopra calls author Phil Cousineau a "word wizard" and NPR's Susan Stamberg hailed his Wordcatcher as a must-read "because it's fun." Cousineau, linguistic detective and dictionary delver, is back with a priceless treasury of word stories and literary obscura that will enchant any lover of language. The words themselves range from the commonplace, such as biscuit, a twice-baked cake for Roman soldiers, to loanwords like chaparral, courtesy of Basque shepards who came to the American West; from word-reversals such as silly, which evolved from "holy" to "goofy" in a mere thousand years, and to words well worthy of revival, such as carrytale, a wandering storyteller. Cousineau's journey through the history and mystery of words will enlighten as it delights.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2639 KB
  • Print Length: 434 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1936740176
  • Publisher: Viva Editions (September 11, 2012)
  • Publication Date: September 11, 2012
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008DYJSWG
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,417 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lynn M. Thalman on October 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have purchased nearly all of the books that Phil Cousineau has written. As with all his other books, "The Painted Word" is extremely well written and highly entertaining. I also own his other word book, "Wordcatcher". His knowledge about travel, philosophy, mythology, history, and so many other things, are combined with wonderful tales and personal stories within his writings. I highly recommend "The Painted Word" or any of his other books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I gave this book as a gift to a friend that I know loves words, their meanings, and their sources. I used the book to first write a greeting card to accompany the gift using words I found in the book that were appropriate to the sentiments I wanted to express.

Of course the book was opened as a source of information immediately. The recipient truly appreciates the book, and I appreciated sharing the wonderful way Phil Cousineau writes with a friend.
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Format: Paperback
I admit it - I love words, and am always fascinated by where they came from. I enjoy words you can roll around in your mouth like Demosthenes' marbles, and I'm a sucker for obscure etymology. In all these respects, Phil Cousineau's book is deliciously satisfying, but you also get a delightful bonus. The descriptions accompanying his eclectic selections, putting the words in context, are like a stream-of-consciousness memoir cum trivia treasure trove. It's a great book for cuddling up with or for sitting on the "throne."
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Format: Paperback
I suppose one has to be a bit of a logophile to appreciate Phil Cousineau's latest book, The Painted Word. He has selected a treasury of words that send shivers down his spine when he hears them, not just because of the shape or color of the word itself, but because of its roots and sometimes delicious ambiguities of origin. Common words, short words and uncommon beauties, as he calls them, delight his senses and in this collection readers are sure to find a few of their own favorites. A few that caught my attention: "gymnophoria"--the queasy feeling that someone is undressing you; "whale fall"--the carcass of a fallen whale on the ocean floor; and "bloviate"--to speak verbosely, to discourse in a pompous, empty, pretentious, or boastful manner. The Painted Word is a delightful buffet for anyone remotely interested in words.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Etymology can be an intriguing subject or put one to sleep. This book was about half and half. I did walk away with more knowledge on various topics than I started with, though, which is all I can really ask for. I do find it strange that the author uses Wikipedia as a source multiple times. One of the most basic things students are taught with regards to research is that Wikipedia is not necessarily a reputable source.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a big brain booster for me! I felt sharper after reading it and my friends were impressed with my increased vocabulary. I heard Phil on KQED Forum on NPR and was amazed at his knowledge. I like learning and Phil is a good teacher. His writing is stunning and elegant, too. I would go so far as to say he is the Joseph Cambell of today with his depth of knowledge of myth and meaning. Get a copy of THE PAINTED WORD for yourself and go ahead and get one for a pal as they want to borrow your copy and you'll never get it back.I give this my highest recommendation!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you like words, this is the book you've been looking for. There is a linguistics course between its covers, and you'll be that much smarter for having studied it. It's informative and fun, so don't pass it up.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is another constant companion while I'm writing children's stories. It's not for children, though. There are tons of useful terms. Both of Phil's word books lack pronunciation guides, which would be a welcomed addition.
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