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Dictionary Of Word Origins
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Dictionary Of Word Origins

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  134 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
What is the link between map and apron, acrobat and oxygen, zeal and jealousy, beef and cow, flour and pollen, danger and dominion, secret and crime?

Did you know that crimson comes originally from the name of tiny scale insects, the kermes, from whose dried bodies a red dyestuff is made? That Yankee started life as a nickname for Dutchmen? That omelette evolved from the Ol
Hardcover, 1st U.S. edition, 591 pages
Published 1990 by Arcade Pub
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One of the better etymological dictionaries of English, not because it's especially comprehensive but on the contrary because it takes a smallish selection (around 8,000 words only) and treats each entry in detail. Unlike traditional dictionaries of this kind, which work backwards in time, Ayto begins at the beginning and works forwards, which has the effect of revealing the etymology to be a kind of narrative. Look up ginger, for instance, in a classic like Skeat 1884 and you'll get this:

Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: etymology
A surprisingly enjoyable read that, well, does exactly what it says on the label.
What I like most about this book is that it is written in an easily accessible, almost friendly manner with a good history of each word's origins whilst including all the necessary constituents and bits necessary to further research the paths and conduits of modern language that the word took.

Admittedly this probably has a fairly limited market to those with an interest in etymology but it's easily the best book I'v
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Endlessly fascinating for anyone interested in language.
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trivia, reference
A fun reference for those who enjoy the history of words
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books ever. EVER. I made my dad buy it for me for Christmas my eleventh grade year.

Thom Dunn
Wonderfully readable--i.e. legible--etymologies. It could be better: it could be bigger.
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