on January 23, 2004
I don't want to go overboard (p. 78), but I must disagree with my previous reviewers here and say that this book is a worthwhile addition to any writers' shelf. I could jump on the bandwagon (p. 100) and criticize it for a lack of an index or the absence of overly detailed etymological information, but take it from me (p. 175), it does what it sets out to do fair and square (p. 57).
Notwithstanding what a previous reviewer wrote, the book certainly does shed light on (p. 167) the basic etymological origins of the most common (and many not-so-common) clichés. Call me old-fashioned (p. 25) but I think the most important aspect of this book is that it keeps first things first (p. 63) by defining clichés in a straight forward (p. 173) and dispassionate way -- something that prevents the text from eroding into the kind of mess that develops when an author tries to both inform and entertain.
At first glance (p. 7), I thought that an index was conspicuous in its absence (p. 33). But all things considered (p. 5), I wondered how effective an index in a case like this would be since it would necessarily have to be organized by key words in a phrase (even if there are several versions of it), the meaning of the phrase, and the meaning of any mistaken interpretations. In the final analysis (p. 94), I think that that the book is fine the way it is ... certainly nothing to be sneezed at (p. 135).
Last but not least (p. 100), while it's not for me to say (p. 96) whether owning this book will help you be a better writer or understand the written word better, I will say that if you glance through its pages and fail to learn something to your advantage (p. 112) I will eat my hat (p.50). I will summarize in order to be perfectly clear (p. 17): I am not saying this is the greatest thing since sliced bread (p. 79), but it is certainly quite good.
on June 26, 2003
I recently had the opportunity to examine this book in depth, and I admit this book was rather disappointing. This book only DEFINES phrases such as: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," but NEVER explains the ORIGINS of each phrase. Since most everyone knows the definition of phrases such as "Just what the doctor ordered" defining it is seems almost pointless. Want to look up a cliche about being sick(for instance)? Think again, each 'cliche' is listed ONLY alphabetically and can not easily cross-referenced by subject matter giving it ZERO practical application to the modern writer or researcher.
For those seeking deeper understanding of cliches, you'd best look elsewhere. This was a superficial effort at best.