Dictionary Of Phrase & Fable
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Dictionary Of Phrase & Fable

4.39 of 5 stars 4.39  ·  rating details  ·  388 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Celebrating the 125th anniversary of its original publication, this expanded and updated edition of a classic reference features a new, simplified organization.
Hardcover, 1324 pages
Published December 12th 1988 by Random House Value Publishing (first published 1870)
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Various editions of this book are available online in digitized form. But that shouldn't stop you from getting your own physical copy. Nothing can rival the joy of browsing through it - you're bound to learn something fascinating along the way. As Terry Pratchett says in the Foreword, it's a storehouse of "little parcels of serendipitous information of a kind that are perhaps of no immediate use, but which are, nevertheless very good for the brain."

First published in 1870, Brewer's has flourishe...more
Five stars, even with some reservations.

Brewer's Dictionary is a gem, full of obscure facts, observations about the history of phrases and stories and icons and references. The English language and culture is a fascinating potpourri, bringing together fascinating aspects of our own culture and many others from many centuries. Our current vocabulary is a chain linking us to the many generations past, and it's great to have Brewer - or, now, his cultural descendants - elucidating this for us.

I hav...more
Regina Hunter
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is a newer version to previous editions and I dare say much heavier. It is not only a valuable source of previous century and old tales and reference, no this edition was updated to accommodate to new changes. I might add that it has a great deal of Latin phrases which promotes learning of given subject. I would recommend it to general literature use, if not sure who or what specific item means, this book is IT. Like most books, this book did not have a me...more
Sep 14, 2008 Gina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a love of mythology and refrence boks
This is absolutely my desert island book, there's no book like it. Granted reference books and mythology are two passions of mine, so this is always going to get me...but there really is nothing like this book. Randomly open the pages and you find out the names of famous mythological creatures, infamous characters through out history and the occasional curious saying. The amount of things from this book that goes into my stories, or is the beginning of some crazy bit of research that end up beco...more
How can you not love this book? And, I must note, that Brewer's is quite a bit more informative than the Oxford dictionary of the same name. Brewer's seems, at least, to have fewer things of general knowledge (meaning I came across more things that I didn't know) and had more well-written entries. Brewer's avoids Oxford's habit of assuming the reader knows the meaning of the colloquial express it's trying to describe.
This book really is a must have. Have you ever wondered who Zeno was? Or where the phrase, 'to swing a cat' came from? Life and literature are full of references to phrases and fables that I'm never totally sure of. But this is also a fun book to just pick up and flick through.

Possibly not a book to read from cover to cover, but a joy nonetheless.
Robert Stewart
I love this book. I have an older edition and it's falling apart of the use it gets. It's great fun to just browse Brewer's, but what's uncanny is how many times I've come across some obscure reference (usually something British) and Brewer's has an entry! It's like an early Wikipedia, but quirkier.

Every home should have one!
Before there was the internet any serious English major would have had a copy of Bartlett's on her shefl for reference. I love to page though my copy, a water-stained paperback from the 80's that's missing a few pages. Reading it is a like a choose-your-own adventure for mythologies and popular culture.
While we're at it, I cannot live without this book. It's the place to go if you want to find out the significance of a golden apple or the difference between a faun and a satyr. (And let's face it, who doesn't?).
This is one of those reference works that I could just read for hours. I'm such a geek.
This is possibly the most fun "pick up and browse" book around.
Ellen B.
This is my favorite reference book ever ever ever.
Jayne Wilson
*Pictured cover is not this edition*

Ayto, J. (2005). Brewer's dictionary of phrase & fable. (17th ed.). London: Collins

By: Jayne Wilson

Reference Type: Dictionary

Call Number: 803

Description: More than 15,000 entries of the meanings of terms, expressions, and names of real, fictitious and mythical characters in history, science, the arts and literature.

Review Source: Jack, J. (2006). [The Dictionary of Phrase & Fable]. Library Journal (1976), 162.

Relevance and Relationship: $55, A needed a...more
Michael Benavidez
useful even if it isn't useful at the moment. This is something that you read, you skim, you just enjoy, and later on something will stand out from the rest and will become something entirely useful. at least it was for me. still going through it time and time again.
John E. Branch Jr.
I'm not going to try to add all my current or past reference books, but when one pops up in a Goodreads recommendation panel I might as well claim it. Like many other references, this one is both fun and useful.
Welwyn Katz
Sep 03, 2010 Welwyn Katz is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Did you know that Aeschylus was killed by the fall of a tortoise on his bald head from the claws of an eagle in the air? (Now, how many of you have read Small Gods by Terry Pratchett? Is there nothing Pratchett doesn't know?) Anyway, this and many other strange and wonderful things are revealed (and referenced) in what is called a "Dictionary" of Phrase and Fable. Therefore, do not let the title fool you into thinking you don't need it. Everyone should have it as a bathroom book. That's where it...more
A must for every bookshelf.
Espen Helgesen
Feb 15, 2014 Espen Helgesen is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate O'Hanlon
This is one reference book that no one should be without.
Okay, we all have out wikipedia and our googles for looking up those half remembered legends, histories and origin myths but Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is still an absolute delight to casually flip through.
May 12, 2012 Lynda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to Lynda by: Folio Society Gift
Shelves: consulted-often
This has become an indispensable reference book to me and in many cases is often my first point of call after the dictionary. Entries are well written and interesting as well as informative, useful and reliable. It can also be tempting to browse for the more eclectic entries.
Howard Dickins
Ok. I love reference books. Generally they're not read from cover-to-cover. But some of them (like Brewer's) are so crammed full of fascinating references and cultural anecdotes that it's just so hard to put down. If you don't own a copy - then you need one.
For all you aspiring writers out there... This is a book with thousands of story beginnings. Just pick a page and let your finger fall where it may. I guarantee you'll find an interesting passage worthy of a short story at least!
Another valuable book for any writer. Just paging through this book you are bound to learn something new. I turn to it often when writing to find new phrases to use of some myth that I never knew about. Love, love, love this book.
Les Wilson
As a reference work, I don’t think it can be considered as a “Good Read”. However, I have found some very interesting items in it; which makes it a good read as far as I am concerned.
This is my absolute favorite reference book. I usually want to look up something and end up skipping through it for hours. A book that should be on every shelf.
One of those reference books everyone should have, and one of the few reference works not totally superceded by the internet.
Anne Gibbons
One of the best reference books for chasing down the origin of phrase and fable. And fun to just browse through as well.
Love this!
Fun just to open to random page and start reading...
I wish I could have every edition.
I remember reading much from it when I was around 13/14 (yes, I was that geeky) ...
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