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Whats in A Word Paperback – Jun 12 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nelson Books (June 12 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558538119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558538115
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #255,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Webb Garrison, formerly associate dean of Emory University and president of McKendree College, wrote more than 55 books, including Civil War Curiosities and Civil War Trivia and Fact Book. Before his death in 2000, Garrison lived in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

By Robin Zarate on Feb. 23 2011
Format: Paperback
My first review.: kinda rusty. Thankfully, the book was worse. Don't get me wrong. Cool idea.; A lot of interesting stuff. But frankly, it is useless. When I say useless I don't mean I didn't learn anything. What I am saying is it does not seem to fulfill its purpose. The fact is, its not a very fascinating read. So no, it's not a recommended page-turner. It is also hardly a comprehensive resource either. So what is it? I don't know.
In addition, some of the etymology is weak. Perhaps it's just me. I don't claim to know any better than the next guy the origin of the widow's peak, or any of the other 350 phrases, but it seems to me that the origins have a bit more'substance.
Perhaps it wasn't totally worthless, I could after all pass it on as a crappy birthday gift. More then likely it will end up at goodwill to be picked up by another sorry soul. So I won't go as far as to say it's a waste of paper, but I believe I put paper to better use in the bathroom. So a recommendation to Mr. Garrison, do a bit more research. To book sneeze: thanks for the paper.
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By Nine-Mile on March 25 2010
Format: Paperback
As this is my first BooksSneeze review I have to admit a predisposition to lean over backward (see chapter on legalese entitled Legal Talk) not to make my report too favorable. At first this seemed to be no big feat, as the first section High Technology and the Computer Age was, in my opinion severely lacking in new information. This section explained such common words as, computer, virus, email, floppies and bookmark. I know, right? Still even this chapter was not completely devoid of interesting tidbits. On the other side of the computer basics chapter it all turned around and I have to say this was a very interesting read.

To be fair, many of the phrases explained seem, to my mind, to be out of common speech, but there are many more which you might hear everyday.

I was particularly interested in the sports and recreation section; I felt that this one in particular proliferated in phrases that at one time or another, I have wondered about their origins. Others, I thought I had deduced their probable origins, but was way off.

I am looking forward to leaving it worth my grandmother sometime this week as she is very interested in looking at it, from what little I've told her about it.
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By Amanda Miller on March 20 2010
Format: Paperback
Whats in a word? Webb Garrison uses this quick, easy to read book to help explain the wheres and whys of our English language. Let's face it, English is sometimes hard to understand. We have bucket loads of idioms, coloquial phrases, and words that are used even when most of us don't know where they came from or why we started using them.

I love words. I am constantly fascinated with the way our language shifts and changes. I also have a bit of fun teasing my students about not understanding the source of the things they say. This book is a collection of words and phrases you may not know the origins of. I did enjoy learning about most of these words, but sadly, some are out of date. The section of computers/ technology is completely obsolete...anyone under 30 has probably never heard some of these terms, let alone want to know where it came from.

This collection of words and phrases would be great, light reading for word geeks and students. It also strikes me as a good read for people who love trivia.
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By A Customer on May 7 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is seriously marred by several factual and etymological errors. If you are serious about language and etymology, stick with something more interesting, like the dictionary.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 25 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
For the masses only May 7 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is seriously marred by several factual and etymological errors. If you are serious about language and etymology, stick with something more interesting, like the dictionary.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Keep it in the Bathroom May 20 2010
By T. Suddarth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While studying Spanish in college, I became interested in the little idiomatic phrases (actually insults) that don't really translate into English. Even after years of classes, they're really all I can remember. If I get lost sometime in a Spanish-speaking country, all I could do is just insult the people trying to help me. It would be a disaster.

That's why when I heard about the book. What's in a Word?, I was pretty excited. Unfortunately it didn't take long for my excitement to deflate.

What's in a Word? is a collection of short entries explaining the origins of words or phrases you hear in everyday speech. If you share my fascination with the origin of those odd phrases, this book might be for you more than it was for me.

It isn't so much that the book isn't well written. I found the individual stories for each entry to be sly, witty, and occasionally rather clever. It's just that many of the "fascinating stories" are kind of mundane (In the Groove), obscure (Best Bib and Tucker) or out-of-date (Floppies). An updated version of the first chapter in a revised edition would go a long way to making the book a better read. For now, though, it's short entries means it's the kind of book you'll want to keep in the bathroom for quick reads.

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Great Bathroom Book Aug. 3 2010
By Melissa Brotherton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I first saw this book I was really excited to read it. I have this memory of being 10-years-old and sitting in the back of my mom's sedan. We were listening to Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" on the radio and he was explaining the origin of a common phrase. I found it so interesting to discover the history behind the phrase and told my mom it would be cool if someone wrote a book about it. I'm not making this up...and yes, I was that much of a nerd.

So, fast forward to 2010. I see on BookSneeze this book by Webb Garrison entitled What's in a Word? I waited expectantly for it to arrive in the mail and opened it as soon as I received the package. Maybe I'm not as much of a nerd now as I was at 10, but I found it to be boring. It wasn't a book I wanted to sit down with for an extended period of time. The first chapter was about technological terminology and it seemed outdated (floppy disks?).

I set it aside, thinking that it would make a really good bathroom reading book or coffee table book.

Then, one night we had a friend over and he picked it up. He skipped around in the book instead of trying to read it cover-to-cover. He spent the next hour sharing with us little tidbits of knowledge that he gained from the author. It was interesting and fun.

So, what do I think of this book? I think that it's slightly outdated, not for someone who's seriously into the study of etymology and, yet, can still provide some entertainment on a quiet night.

**What's In A Word Fascinating Stories Of More Than 350 Everyday Words And PhrasesDisclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Not the best etymology book I've ever read March 22 2010
By Cory Howell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I received What's in a Word? by Webb Garrison as a free perusal copy as part of Thomas Nelson's blogger network. I have long been a fan of books of etymology. When I hear a word or phrase that seems interesting or bizarre, I want to know where it came from. Garrison's book, according to the synopsis on the back, "is sure to fascinate wordsmiths of every stripe." And certainly, the book isn't a complete waste of time in that regard. The thing is, though, I've read so many books that are more fascinating and better written examples of this genre. To be fair, the author states in his Introduction that he intentionally wrote short essays about each word or phrase, so I didn't expect this to be the definitive work of its kind. The biggest problem with this book is its odd system of organization, or the lack thereof. Most books of this type are in alphabetical order. Garrison chooses to arrange his according to subject. However, within each subject heading, the order of the articles is impossible to figure out. For example, the chapter on Household Words gives us the following words, to begin with: hard-boiled, biscuit, bay window, rummage, gumbo, bring home the bacon, flour, etc. Would it have killed him to at least make it alphabetical within each subject heading? With this kind of goofy system, if you have a particular word you're looking for, you have to go to the index to look it up. In which case, it makes me wonder why he didn't make the whole thing alphabetical.

Besides the crazy lack of organization, Garrison does a pretty good job of providing etymologies for hundreds of common words and phrases. As a diabetic who just started using insulin, I found the etymology of "insulin" fascinating. Want to know why it's called "commencement," when someone finishes school? It's in here. Want to know where the word "garble" came from? It's in here. (It comes from Arabic, incidentally.) Another thing in the author's favor is that he actually dodges some of the words and phrases that are notorious for having popular made-up etymologies, such as "OK," "mind your Ps and Qs," and "the whole nine yards." So many authors in this kind of genre have indulged in all kinds of theorizing, while Garrison seems to stick mostly with language that has a documented history. If you are really into etymology, then, you will probably find this book mildly interesting, but you may have seen better examples of this kind of thing. Still, it may make good bathroom reading...
Hours of Fun in Eytomology April 30 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Hours of Fun in Eytomology

In everyday life we use so many phrases and words never knowing the original meaning or source of what we are saying to each other. "What's in a Word" is a fascinating and sometimes hilarious journey into the world of etymology written by Webb Garrison.

My family and I have had a great deal of fun with the interesting origins of some of the words and phrases we use everyday. We have even made a game out of the book, "What's in a Word" at home and play in teams to solve what we think is the origin of the word or phrase. I am surprised that someone has not made a game out of etymology considering how many games there are on the market. The book has been the inspiration for playing the game at home and also the inspiration for looking up the origins of other words or phrases we also use in our everyday language.

I would suggest the reading of this book for anyone who has ever wondered where the phrases and words we use in our everyday language come from and as a fun game to play at home in teams to solve the origins of these words and phrases and looking up other words and phrases that the teams come up with in the progress of the game. "What's in a Word" has give us many hours of fun and enjoyment.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255


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