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The Superior Person's Book of Words
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The Superior Person's Book of Words

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  319 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Are you an Anglophile? (Stout fellow!) Just stand at this springboard and leave the fields of popinjay jabber and tongue-stumped battology behind forever! Stop up for big dividends in the giddy heights of superior speech. Peter Bowler will teach you the practical riches of saying it well with good words, neglected words, and precise words for vocabular exultation!
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published 1985 by David R. Godine Publisher (first published 1979)
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At first glance, Peter Bowler appears to represent the position I mocked in an earlier post, that command of a larger vocabulary is a means to social advancement, and can be acquired by reading a book full of fancy words. Fortunately, closer reading of his introduction to this short, amusing, book reveals a refreshing tongue-in-cheek attitude. I can imagine that the author's smart aleckness could lose its appeal over the long haul, but it works quite well in a book of this size (500 words define ...more
One of my best friends gave me this book for my birthday (last year? Or the year before? Sometimes I think I'm a really bad friend) and I've been putting off reading it since I got it because I don't want to be disappointed - somehow I feel like I would be an even worse friend if I didn't like it.

Because I usually find this type of book disappointing. One is fatigued by the endless parade of words, words that will hardly ever be used by anyone, words that if they are ever used will be met with a
Sep 23, 2008 Suzy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cathy
I love, love, love this little gem of a book. For a while I took it with me everywhere and sniggered at the most inappropriate times. Quirky, snide, sheepish and so underhandedly clever you're left foolishly grinning into space for a good while after putting it down. Then again, if you do that often anyway, this book is the perfect excuse.
A great collection of odd words that you'll never end up using. Anyone can compile a list of words, but the way Bowler suggest their use for insulting others and his definitions are enough to make this a must read for "word nerds."
Jan 26, 2008 Chriss rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Word lovers
Recommended to Chriss by: my Dad
You may be raising an eyebrow and wondering what could be so fun about reading a dictionary, but this isn’t your dry and dull New Collegiate or Websters. Superior Person’s Words is written with a tongue-in-cheek wit and eye to the practical. This is one dictionary that doesn’t just tell you definitions for hard words, it gives you practical guidance and creative suggestions for their use; from the insult-obscure to calling in sick, from confusing people to complimenting them.

A full review, with
My dad, apparently a superior person, had this book on his treadmill. Although I'm a little turned off by the appeal to being better than others, I find wordplay and language quite interesting. Maybe there's not enough of us that do, so the author and editor of this volume are trying to sell more of these books by making you think that this will help you advance in esteem beyond those who have not learned your erudite vocabulary.
Laurie Baird
Jan 22, 2008 Laurie Baird rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in expanding their run of the mill word bank.
So many words, so little time--and infrequent occasion--to use the particularly peculiar or delightfully delicious-- yet mostly obscure-- vocabulary introduced.

This book is hysterical. I love the way the author takes obscure words and had fun with them
Tom Hansen
Bowler's humor can come off as outdated and occasionally offensive, but there are some truly delightful words in here that can pop up in unexpected places. It's truly incredible how many times the word "zzxjoanw" (a Maori drum [wikipedia claims the word is an invention of a 1903 musical dictionary, but provides little more than evidence for the claim, so I'll continue to hold out hope]) has come up in my everyday conversation. Knowledge of the word 'defenestration' impressed my high school peers ...more
Oct 31, 2014 Franco added it
Funny book. The Australian author gives humorous examples of word usage by poking fun at his sister and British people in general. The 500 words described are so obtuse as to not be very useful. I knew some of them and learned a few more that I may use. Such as, 'Ah my gracile girlfriend, how are you?'
I guess it's just me, because everyone else seemed to love this book, but I found it tedious and wanted to slap the author a few times. Sure, I learned a few really good words, and I do love words. But most of the words are impossible-to-remember obscurities. Worse, some of them are words everyone knows, included to give the author an excuse to go off on some cranky old man rant. His humor is broad, sexist, and unsubtle, mostly turning on the tired concepts of shopaholic wives, nagging mothers-i ...more
Full review coming soon. So boring it should be the cure for insomnia.
If you like words, these books are recommended. I got both when I was in high school because my grandmother, who loved words, died. And I was the one chosen to go to her apartment and clear out the books, so I got first dibs. I picked up The Superior Person's Book of Words, and then saw that there was second. I took them home and read them, laughed heartily, and even actually used some of the words with hilarious results.

P.S. If I remember correctly, there is a bit of "poor taste" humor, but mo
Definition of this book = money for old rope. It's a list of what the author says are rare and under-used words with the implication that the reader won't have heard of them. However, anyone who reads relatively widely would have come across most if not all of them.

Each word is accompanied by its meaning and a "humorous" aside on how to use it. These "jokes" would appear to come from the 1950s - in many cases they're sexist and in some cases in poor taste.
Nyte Visions
I don't think it was nearly as clever, witty, humorous or funny as the author intended. I did come across several new words that I never knew existed. It was a slow read, but I pushed through it. I think the book is better to be glanced at, picking a page at random from time to time, than to read cover to cover.
Probably suitable for regifting. An enjoyable enough read, some interesting words, but the commentary was not quite clever enough for me. The author seemed to be trying too hard - these sorts of things need to be more effortless. Does that mean I am superior or not? One needs to know.
Rebecca Grace
Two different friends independently gave me copies of this book as gifts. Hmmm... Does this mean they think I am a superior person, or do they think I THINK I'm a superior person?? Strange... But a neat little smorgasbord of unusual words for word foodies, nevertheless.
Read this twice now - it's really funny. I'd forgotten what it was and thought it was another collection of obscure words, but no, it's an incredibly sarky book about being silly and annoying everyone around you with your superior vocabulary. Great fun.
My tattered copy has been picked up more than once by a student looking for a silent reading book in a pinch. Favorite words, Lesion, boondoggle, and palinoia. I know this because that is where the book pops open. Ok it could just be the "L"s "B"s and "P"s.
very comical. early caveat lector, indicating that perhaps the text at points lacks candor, means that some of the jokes are at the reader's expense. probable therefore that one should look up the terms herein in the OED prior to their deployment.
Paul T
My dad rues the day he left this book unhidden. Bowler is the most awesome kind of asshole. You wish you were that clever, and so do I. (Clever enough to write such a book, not clever enough to hide books from an eight year old.)
Jake Losh
This is a delightful book. It has a terrific sense of humor about language and about itself. I found myself chortling on almost every page. An excellent book for anybody who loves English words.
Many of the words in here are archaic and rather useless in everyday conversation, but they can sure spice up your writing, lend authenticity to a "period" piece, or just piss people off.
Jan 15, 2013 Neil rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
Can't recommend this highly enough. Brilliantly written, and intelligently witty, it is my friend and constant companion in the loo...than which there is no greater praise.
Ike Sharpless
These books should *not* be approached as anything even vaguely resembling practical, serious, or useful. They're for play, and do a fantastic job at that.
Dipped into this a fair bit. Some of the words I already knew but there were only a handful so I guess that just makes me a tiny bit superior!
Don't Look
I bet you don't know what forniculators are. And no it is not spelled wrong. And no, does not know what the word is! ahaahaa!
Laura-nassidesa Eschbaugh
in addition to have found several wonderful words 9labile,cacophemism,bumblepuppy)the illustrations are a hoot. This was a fun read.
David R. Godine
"Nothing short of a brief dictionary for those who aspire to linguistic snobbery."
St. Petersburg Times
Dec 24, 2013 Salim marked it as to-read
very good book to read recommended for students
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect Page Count for ISBN 0440204070 2 159 Oct 28, 2013 08:43PM  
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