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Words from the Myths
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Words from the Myths

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  150 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The Greek Myths have been an inspiration to men for thousand of years, but now Isaac Asimov shows that they are a mine of language history as well. His new way of looking at them makes a fascinating book for all ages.
Hardcover, 225 pages
Published December 1st 1961 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1961)
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Grace E
The author’s purpose in writing the book Words from the Myths was to help teach us where we got the names of the planets, stars, constellations, and other words we use in common conversations. Like our word hypnosis comes from the name Hypnos, who is the Greek god of artificial sleep. Also the word morphology is a branch of biology that deals with the structure and form of living things. “Morpheus goes back through Latin to the Greek word for ‘form’ or ‘shape’.”
The theme of this book is history
Sep 20, 2010 Krista rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.

It's mannered. It's old-fashioned. The back-flap "about the author" blurb is charmingly cheeky.

But it is chock full of interesting tidbits about the parts of our language that originate in myth. Chock. Full.

We all know why the Achilles tendon is called that but who knew that the word "stentorian" comes from a minor character in Homer, Stentor, who was a herald who was able to rally the army effectively because he had a voice as loud as fifty men? And who knew that there is a on
May 12, 2010 Allyson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read only a handful of Asimov's hundreds of books. But no matter in which genre he writes, his books are always well written, easily understood and entertaining. He was truly an amazing writer. I'm enjoying this book because etymology has always been interesting to me. In the introduction he explains early cosmology in a way that children can relate to, and goes on to reveal the Greek-myth origins of words like calliope, stentorian, siren, mentor, nestor, and hectering. The rest of the bo ...more
Jun 05, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was truly a great read; quick and engaging, and extremely informative. Asimov seamlessly integrates knowledge of etymology, science, mythology, and more, and makes it interesting to boot. You'll finish the book a smarter person, and eager to learn more - I'm sure Isaac would ask for no higher praise.
Apr 08, 2013 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a book that I picked up in grade school and then randomly found on Amazon. The premise is that 50s sci-fi laureate Ray Bradbury riffs on how Greek mythological esoterica worked its way into the English language. I completely knew the bones of this book upon picking it up: If there's any reason I didn't like this, I definitely knew what I was getting myself into. Complaining about the twenty pages of astrological star formations based on giant lions that Hercules hit with a club would ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Priya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot these days, putting all my spare time into it. What I need to catch up on is my reviews. This is an interesting book I read the other day that I'd highly recommend to mythology and language buffs. I mean, look at the cover, wouldn't you like to know where all those words came from?

I had a couple of hours to kill at the university the other day, so I wandered into the Mythology and Religion section of the library, which these days has turned into a default response to free time. A sl
Apr 27, 2016 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just picture the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, talking about how everything goes back to the Greeks. :)

This book's title is literal, being mostly about how myths affected language and how prevalant it is today. I was hoping for more on the cultural impact, but was pleasantly surprised. The introduction is a bit too much praiae, but the book itself is short and fascinating if not somewhat dated. (Did anyone use half those expressions in the 1960s?) My brother (not a reader) is excited to rea
Sep 12, 2008 Pir is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
fun, but asimov writes like we're 10... maybe it's a book for 10 year olds...
Courtney Umlauf
This is an odd little book. It's like an extremely long Wikipedia article on all the words in our modern language that are somehow related to or pulled directly from Classical Greek and Roman myth. It's basically a mash up of interesting tidbits that will probably only come up when playing a trivia game. This is exactly the type of semi-useless information I find interesting, so I'm torn between liking this a lot and...not so much. I'm turned off by the style and tone. It's told in such a straig ...more
Tomas Rivera gonzalez
Es un libro estupendo, una vez un amigo mio menciono que todos nececitamos un curso de etimologias, para comprender mejor todas las palabras del latin, bueno pues la mayoria del latin proviene del griego, y en este libro llevados de la mano del agradable relato del autor (Isaac Asimov), recordamos todos los mitos griegos y todas las palabras actuales que han perdurado, la mayoria en nombres de planetas y estrellas otras tantas en elementos quimicos y en muchas mas cosas de la vida cotiana. lectu ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
A lucid, gripping overview of classical myth, and a look at its impact on the modern English vocabulary, scientific nomenclature and, since this book was written about 40 years ago, certain archaic turns of phrase. Asimov's storytelling skills make his compressed retellings of myths and legends about the gods and heroes of ancient Greece and Rome completely gripping, and the extensive research into word origins throws up interesting webs of allusions, reminders of a time when even scientists, ne ...more
Nov 29, 2014 Audrey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
Asimov tours the pantheon of Greek gods, explaining how their names have come to be remembered in our language and honored in our scientific discoveries. It's not surprising that Asimov, who wrote so much science fiction, seems to be equally interested in the gods and myths, and the history of science. It's outdated in a few places, noting words that have fallen out of usage, but overall it's a quirky, fun read if you're into words, Greek myths, or science.
박은정 Park
Dec 31, 2012 박은정 Park rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to 박은정 by: Chul Chung
# 20121130

1. Goodreads 1호!
2. 이 책은 원제가 "Words from the Myths"임에도 출판사의 "상식과 교양으로 읽는..." 시리즈에 편입됨으로써 번역된 제목이 원제의 의미를 완전히 왜곡한, 전혀 엉뚱한 제목이 되어버렸다. 아시모프는 이 사실을 알고 있을까? 앞으로 이 출판사와 번역가의 책을 구매할 때는 제목과 내용이 분리될 수 있다는 사실을 염두에 둬야겠다는 생각이다. 무척 실망스러운 제목이다.

# 20130101

1. 책을 처음 집었을 때 느낀 실망감을 뒤로 한 채 그래도 희망을 가지고 끝까지 skimming 했으나, 결국 남은 것이 많지는 않다.
2. 사전식 글이다. 끊임없는 사실들의 나열. 따라서 '공부'를 한다는 생각으로 책을 보지 않으면 남는 것은 없다.
3. 내용의 구조가 없다. 구조만이라도 잘 정리되어 있다면 개념에 대한 기억을 되살리거나 키워드를 인식하는 데만도 많은 도움이 될 것 같은데.
4. 짧은 책에 그리스 신화, 로마 신화, 그리고 영어의
Aug 08, 2015 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun guide to Greek myths and names of stars, planets, etc.
Anna Smereca
Aug 01, 2015 Anna Smereca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Yes, it’s a little old-fashioned, but really interesting. Isaac Asimov describes the influence of Greek words on modern language. It’s easy to read and you’ll need a couple of hours to do it, because it has only 220 pages.
An interesting tale of words from ancient Rome and Greece that have come down to us through the ages. Lethe, the river of forgetfulness in Hades, is the root word of lethargic and lethal. There are many more, but eventually it gets pretty simple. We all know the planets are named after gods and what a Trojan horse is. Still, it's such a quick read I'd recommend it.
Oct 04, 2015 Syl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WONDERFUL book I fully recommend to anyone who wants to know the mythological origin of many words in the English language and also in others. Greek Mythology is really, in every single aspect of our lives and speech, and Asimov takes us on a great and entertaining journey through them, narrating the details of the myths in his unique style.
Definitely a GOOD READ.
Aug 02, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ok-ok-ok
I wish I had a "read-ish" shelf instead of the three standard. The book is OK. I thought it would be more story form with the occassional etomology thrown in. It's the opposite- a very little story telling with a lot of etomology. It wasn't interesting to me personally and life is too short to read something boring. :)
Jul 23, 2012 Tam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Interesting, yet I was disappointed that it focused so heavily upon Greek and Roman myths and largely kept to the better known stories. I enjoyed Asimov's pointing out how the myths influenced science, but felt that I had garnered many of his points from outside reading.
Justin Lynn
Asimov probably cranked out this fun little book on the mythological etymology of words while waiting for his bolo ties at the dry cleaner.
A fun exercise in mythology and linguistics, but a bit tedious. It's a short book, yet still managed to take me several hours.
The Good Doctor shares the origins of various words from Greek mythology, in his inimitably enjoyable and informative style.
Catherine Northcott
A fascinating read - and full of answers!
Alan marked it as to-read
Jul 13, 2016
Eric Walker
Eric Walker rated it really liked it
Jul 14, 2016
Karina marked it as to-read
Jun 15, 2016
Tyler marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2016
Crystal Vance
Crystal Vance is currently reading it
Jun 04, 2016
Jennifer marked it as to-read
Jun 02, 2016
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Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Professor Asimov is generally considered the most prolific writer of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works published in nine of the te
More about Isaac Asimov...

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