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Complete Idiots Guide To Weird Word Origins Paperback – Jul 29 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha Books (July 29 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592577814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592577811
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.1 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,865,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Paul McFedries has worked with (yelled at, and kicked) computers since 1975, yet still manages to keep his sanity intact. The author of more than three dozen computer books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Windows 98, The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Windows Me, and The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Windows 2000 Professional, Paul's titles have sold over two million copies worldwide.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
More Than Just Words July 26 2010
By Wonder Woman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book not only gives origins of specific words, but sayings, too. The author interjects his own bits of humor in his writing, which gives it some personality and not just a boring delivery of definitions.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Interesting trivia--could be important--or not. LOL April 3 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How many people know that *gargoyle* comes from a French word referring to gargling? How many people want to? (You never know!) It refers to the sound of rainwater running down the rainspouts of gargoyles. Many such entries have several paragraphs of information, more than a standard good dictionary. Interesting and fun.
Word Origins For Fun And Profit--Well, At Least For FUN. Dec 28 2013
By Gregor von Kallahann - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I never realized that the scope of the "Complete Idiot" series went much beyond the eminently practical. But now that I think of it, a book like WEIRD WORD ORIGINS makes sense though. Many people are fascinated by etymology (and likely even more are when the term "etymology" is not dropped in favor of a folksier more everyday term like "word origins") is used. This funny, breezy text on word origins is a welcome addition to popular lexicography.

Actually, you could recommend it on several fronts. First there's its impressive diversity. WEIRD WORD ORIGINS includes all KINDS of words (and phrases too). Anything with an interesting history is likely to be included, whether it's of Latin or Greek origin, part of our languages Anglo-Saxon core or a whimsical coinage that gained traction enough to gain permanent (well, nothing in language is REALLY permanent) foothold in the language. More importantly, despite its breezy tone, the book is certainly authoritative. I was already familiar with the origins of many of the words and phrases included in the book, and nothing in WWO failed to jibe with the word histories I already knew. I knew about the origin of "September," for instance, so I'm not going to question author Paul McFedries refutation of some popular misconceptions about a term like "dead ringer," for instance. As he points out, a lot of wrong and wrongheaded linguistic information is spread via the Internet. And the fanciful tale about "dead ringers" being calls for help from people accidentally buried alive is just that--a fanciful tale. And I'll take that on McFedries' authority.

It is actually, McFedries own highly readable and quirkily personable style that is the book's most unique aspect, and one of its most important. Many popular etymology texts affect a conversational style, but this is one where you can actually speak of the author's distinctive voice. You actually feel like you're getting acquainted with the author/editor. There's a real personality organizing all this information, and it's a real pleasure to get to know him.

I love word lore but can't pretend to be more expert than I am, however. Ttere were any number of times when I caught myself saying, "Now why didn't I ever look THAT one up?" Why is a "Bronx cheer" a "raspberry," for instance. Or for that matter, why is it a "Bronx cheer"?? There are plenty of word histories that I just never have gotten around to researching that I am glad to learn about now. McFedries makes it all good fun.