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Who Put the Butter in Butterfly: And Other Fearless Investigations Into Our Illogical Language
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Who Put the Butter in Butterfly: And Other Fearless Investigations Into Our Illogical Language

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  171 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Bestselling author and pop-culture pundit David Feldman demystifies our language's most curious cliches and quips. From cooties and mugwumps to Ps and Qs and Peeping Tom, this is a doozie of a diversion.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 28th 1992 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1900)
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Interesting, though I'm not certain I would take every explanation literally. "Soda Jerk" as a derivation of alcohol jerk doesn't make much sense, but what I've heard before on food shows about the soda fountain person having to "jerk" the handle of the soda fountain to get it to come out properly. Always fun to think about work and phrase origins though. :)
Feb 16, 2010 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love these kinds of books because I like to find the stories behind where words and phrases came from. This one however, I found very hard to relate to. Not only had I never heard half the phrases and words, but there was no personality to the explanations. They were very similar to reading a text book. It took me less than a day to read though, so if you're looking for a quick and easy read, this book would be a good choice! May I recommend Why Do Men Have Nipples if you''re looking for an en ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Tori added it
2005- One of the reviewers on I think correctly described this book as ""bathroom reading."" I agree wholeheartedly. The book reads like an encyclopedia more than anything else, and it's not recommended to read it in large sections (like I did) because you'll be bored quickly. Apparently its part of a series, and this one focused exclusively on language (Where did the term Peeping Tom come from? What does it mean to mind your Ps & Qs?, etc). I suppose if I read a few explanations ...more
Janet Eshenroder
Light, easy read. It's fun information, and I remembered more of these than I initially thought I would. Some explanations I have less confidence in, though they show a certain logic.
Timothy Boyd
Interesting tidbit book. Great book to learn a few new things each day. Recommended
May 01, 2011 Vivek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot from this book! I do think that this book is somthing I would use for a reference. It is fun to read through the pages of this book as if it was a novel even though it was informational. It made lots of sense but it got quite boring when you got to the middle of the book where there were several long chapters talking about political words. But then you get to the fun words like "gobldygook" and "blurb." David Felderman has other good books like this that I will try to read soon.
Josh Hamacher
I think I must have stolen this from my mom about two decades ago, or at least I think she had a copy at some point. In any case, it's a very fast read, maybe two hours, and would be considerably more interesting if the author didn't feel the need to inject his own unique "humor" into each and every description of the origins of various words and phrases. Probably worth a read if you find a copy in a library.
Jul 03, 2013 Ladygwen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
A book full of fascinating etymology explanations, my only concern being there was little in the way of proof. He provided a small bibliography in the back. There were a few times he referenced, but did not cite, the OED. Some answers appeared to be write ins from people.

It was fun but a lot of information. You could tell it was written in 1950, which made it more fun in my opinion.
Andd Becker
Mar 14, 2013 Andd Becker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like etymology, this reference book is for you. You might actually enjoy learning things like Gelett Burgess of purple cow fame coined the word "blurb" in 1907. Or maybe you want to learn the origin of keeping up with the Joneses. Or saved in the nick of time.
Sep 26, 2011 Dini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Filled with fun, trivial knowledge, which I love. Sadly some of the terms are quite outdated and new to me which made it difficult to associate. Nevertheless, this is a great book to read, especially if you like trivial facts like me.
Alex Seals
Sep 06, 2010 Alex Seals rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a good, little source to read up on different phrases that we use. I especially thought the origin of Peeping Tom was interesting!
Nov 11, 2012 Molly rated it really liked it
This series has answered many questions for me and prompted many more. It's truly fascinating and well written.
Mar 13, 2008 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good light reading for all ages
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

He holds a bachelor's degree in literature from Grinnell College, and a master's degree in popular culture from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He consults and lectures on the media. He lives in New York City.
More about David Feldman...

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