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Editor-in-chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and celebrated word nerd Barber has put together a suitably snappy compendium of word origins. Organized by seasons, this snore-free guide to etymology presents more than 500 paragraph-long histories on everything from sports terms to teen-speak to Yiddish. Curious minds will learn that the modern definition of "bidet" comes from the 1300s French verb "bider," meaning "to trot"; the bathroom fixture in the 1750s took the name because of the straddling action one performs while using it. The word "dunce" was derived from the name of a once-revered medieval theologian, John Duns Scotus, who fell out of favor; his disciples were called "Duns men" or "Dunses" for short. And who knew that the first recorded usage of the phrase "as if" was in Frank Morris's 1903 novel The Pit (" 'Maybe he'll come up and speak to us.' 'Oh, as if,' contradicted Laura. ")? No matter what word she puts under the microscope, Barber clearly takes its history seriously, but her light, witty descriptions make each discovery a pleasure. Ideal for dinner party discussions or bathroom reading.
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"Barber is a pro... On behalf of etymologicoholics everywhere, brava!" - The Globe and Mail
"Six Words You Never Knew Had Something To Do With Pigs is that rare book that is both entertaining and illuminating... you could gobble it all down at one sitting" - The Vancouver Sun
"a delightfully entertaining and educational book." - The Gazette, Montreal
"Six Words You Never Knew Had Something To Do With Pigs is an elegant little publication that will likely find a place of prominence on regularly used bookshelves in many Canadian homes and cottages." - The Chronicle Herald, Halifax