- Hardcover: 132 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 24, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195159055
- ISBN-13: 978-0195159059
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.6 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,179,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Weird and Wonderful Words
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From School Library Journal
Grade 10 Up-Arranged alphabetically, this volume of unusual words defines terms from "aboulia the loss of will or volition, as a mental illness" to "Zyrian a former term for Komi, a language spoken by a people living in an area of northern Russia west of the Urals." Some sections on individual letters include discussions of certain types of words, such as those describing anatomy, illnesses, scientific "-logies," and "Peculiar and Prodigious Pigs." Whimsical black-and-white drawings are the highlights of the book. While amusing in their own right, they serve to illustrate the meanings of many of the words and their use in sentences. The volume concludes with sections on "How to Create Your Own Weird and Wonderful Words," Web sites that focus on the English language, and a bibliography of Oxford dictionaries. While this book may be interesting to logophiles, average readers may be frustrated by the lack of pronunciation guides for these unfamiliar words.
Linda Wadleigh, Oconee County Middle School, Watkinsville, GA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This book is as wonderful as the weird words in it. McKean, editor of Verbatim and a dictionary editor at Oxford, has culled all manner of words that either sound unusual or mean something unusual. Have you ever heard of an otacust or a gallnipper? Have you ever worbled or been exauctorated? If not, you are missing something. Word lovers everywhere will have a great deal of fun with this book. In addition to the dictionary-style presentation, essays are sprinkled throughout (e.g., the fascinating "Irregular and Incredible Illnesses-Many Words for Diseases"), and a concluding essay explains how to create your own weird and wonderful words. To add to the reader's joy, McKean has included quirky and amazing illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast that add to the book's flavor and make it that much more intriguing. Because this book is meant to be fun rather than academic, there are no etymologies or pronunciation guides and not much detail for many of the words. But it doesn't really matter because the mandate here is silliness and fun. Funambulists, seplasiaries, and word lovers everywhere surely will want this book.
Manya S. Chylinski, Ctr. for Business Knowledge, Ernst & Young, Boston
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I only wish there were more words in it. Maybe they'll do a Weird Words 2. I'm going to keep this one and order another one for my dad.
Organized alphabetically in a dictionary format, each entry, written in a conversational style, provides a clear definition of a specific word. It often includes the word's origin, and sometimes it's accompanied by a humorous drawing that serves to illustrate both the word's meaning and its usage.
The book also contains a few particular and very funny sections that deal with groups of related words: anatomical terms, names of illnesses, words that begin with the letter "x," and words that end in "logy," among others.
Another hilarious section is "How to Create Your Own Weird and Wonderful Words," intended as a practical guide to help you coin your own unusual vocabulary by using Greek and Latin roots and loose linguistic rules to insure the most legitimate sounding spellings and pronunciation.
As a bonus, especially for those of us interested in doing some further reading, the author also supplies a list of web sites that feature the history and curiosities of the English language, and a list of Oxford dictionaries and reference books.
The only thing missing from this volume is a pronunciation guide, otherwise it is the perfect way to discover, by either direct consultation or casual browsing, the unusual words like ascesis, passiuncle and illywhacker, that decorate our language.
This book is a must-buy for word enthusiasts or trivia lovers alike.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
My only complaint is that there is no pronunciation included with each entry. This is a relatively small issue, and the only thing keeping the book from a 5-star rating.
One caveat: there are some racy entries, not enough to spur sales, but enough to give the book an X rating in some households and a PG-13 in many. Too bad, as the book would otherwise be an excellent inspiration for many a young wordsmith. Perhaps the compiler can be persuaded to gather a similar collection of words, like "googol", of interest to children and adults alike. If only this collection had been just a shade more verecund!
I'll let you buy the book if you want to know the precise meanings of logodaedaly and verecund.
This book is a handy reference for those who get a kick out of wordplay and for those who want to add some spice to their converation and/or writing. You can read it studiously from front to back, peruse it in a random fashion, or do what I did: seek out each Roz Chast illustration to further excite your curiosity about its contents. Roz Chast, also known for her neurotic and humorous cartoon work in the New Yorker, is a natural choice for accompanying so many absurd and obscure words. Her drawings here and within her own books always manage to squeeze a 'squirk' (a half-suppressed laugh) out of me.
Many of the words featured inside contain a brief backstory, origin, and/or word usage. In between what one might call letter-designated chapters are more juicy bizarrities of 2-page word trivia with such headings as: "Irregular and Incredible Illnesses", "Freakish and Fantastic Fornications", "Exceptional and Extraordinary X-es", etc. At the end of the book are: tips on how to create your own words (should you need help with that); a "Logophile's Bibliography", a short directory of dictionaries: basic, in-depth, and for modern English usage; and a short list of reference books of word knowledge and language builders.
From time to time, I look to this book for amusement and to refresh my memory. I find myself reusing words I had forgotten and picking out other words to learn by association so I can use them in the future. If ordinary conversation and trendy stock phrases get you down, quit 'jiffling' (fidgeting) and make this book a staple in your collection.