Synopses & Reviews
The cat's pajamas, the bee's knees, and the whole nine yards rolled into one, this true feast for wordlovers delightfully skewers commonly accepted word origin myths and etymological folk tales. The real story of a world or phrase's origin and evolution is often much stranger--and much more humorous--than the commonly accepted one; the many entries will certainly leave you happy as a clam. Happy as a clam? Really--what's so happy about being a clam? The saying makes much more sense when it's paired with its missing second half: at high water. Now a clam at high water is a safe clam, and thus a happy clam. The confusion surrounding the word kangaroo caused so much trouble that the Aborigines thought this English word meant any edible animal; they asked whether the cattle being unloaded from ships were kangaroos. From the bawdy to the sublime, Quinion's explanations and delightful asides truly prove that the proof is in the pudding.
The cat's pajamas, the bee's knees, and the whole nine yards rolled into one, this true feast for word lovers skewers commonly accepted word-origin myths and etymological folktales. Writing with flair and authority, word maven and Oxford English Dictionary contributor Michael Quinion shows us that the real story behind a word or phrase is often much stranger than the commonly accepted one. With this book in your arsenal, you'll have the last word in every word-lover's game of one-upmanship. So if you've ever wondered why we utter such oddities as "raining cats and dogs," "I couldn't care less," or "twenty-three skidoo," this one's for you. No ballyhoo!
About the Author
Michael Quinion hosts and writes the World Wide Words Web site and is a contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary.