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Dictionary of Idioms and Their Origins Paperback – Mar 1 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Kyle Cathie; 1 edition (March 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856266648
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856266642
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 20 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 381 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #135,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"This sort of book has two purposes. The first is to be a work of reference ... The second is to entertain ... Linda and Roger Flavell are discerning in their choice of phrase and assiduous in uncovering their origins." -- Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Linda and Roger Flavell (U.K.) have also published A Dictionary of Word Origins and Dictionary of Proverbs.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a book for those who like words...allows for playing with the use of words.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The phrases from etymology of words and historical things that created our idioms.... May 20 2012
By A. Tice - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Here are some brief examples (although the book explains in more detail):
* "The Midas Touch" means the ability to make money, to have continuous good fortune, it comes from the story of - Midas the legendary king of Phrygia, was granted a wish by Bacchus in return for a helping hand extended to one of his followers. Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. The wish dissolved when he washed his hands to eat.
* "Pandora's Box" means a seemingly harmless situation fraught with hidden difficulties, it comes from - Zeus giving Pandora a beautiful box that she was told never to open. One day she turned the key and peeped inside. At that moment all the problems of wickedness were loosened upon mankind ever since.
* "Three Sheets To The Wind" means very drunk, it comes from - The more sails there are in the wind, the more unstable the ship, like a drunken sailor.
* "A thorn in my side" means a person or thing which causes persistent pain or annoyance and it comes from- The Bible book of Numbers 33:55, God commands them to drive out all the inhabitants and if they do not, those who remain will be "barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides".
Some idioms have more than one theory of how they originated, and all theories are listed.
There is an index and bibliography.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Actually includes origin!! Aug. 27 2014
By E. Ford - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this as a gift for my Dad and he loved it. I was searching for a book of idioms that actually gave a brief history of the idioms' origins. Many books claimed to do that but upon close review many only listed definitions and the meanings of the idioms. This book however, does a good job of teaching how the idiom came into existence. I gave four starts because several common idioms were not included, and I felt like it could have been a more complete collection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great book. May 14 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book explains the origin of lots of the idioms we hear or use daily. Very interesting reading. Another book of idioms that I purchased (Webster's New World American Idioms Handbook) told the meaning of idioms without explaining their origins and was less enjoyable.
It is fun to read the origin and usage example of each ... Aug. 28 2014
By D. Yi - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Product was delivered as described by seller.
It is fun to read the origin and usage example of each idiom; I memorize idiom better this way.
Wonderful reference book -- a must have for writers and general knowledge enthusiasts Sept. 29 2015
By SuziL - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great reference book. Interesting, informative and well researched descriptions. Many of which are pretty funny.