The Etymologicon

During Amazon’s Kindle Christmas sale I went a bit mad and bought lots of books which sounded good and were reduced quite considerably. There has been a mistake or two, but there has also been a few hidden delights

Mark Forsyth’s book The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language has been sheer pleasure to read. It looks at the etymological history of words or saying, often using tenuous links to get to the next chapter. As I was reading I was quite often saying ‘ahhh!’ or ‘ohhh’! And even some times a delighted chuckle of recognition.

I think my favourite is the idea that the word avocado has been essentially turned into a Spanish word and then Anglicised from the original translation meaning green testicles! Remember that next time you are eating your salad. And people actually used to swear oaths on their genitals as well.

It looks at lots of everyday phrases and words and how they came to be such an important part of our language.

I greatly enjoyed this book and if you love language you will do so as well. I am looking forward to reading his next book The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase.

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  1. I’ve often wanted to swear at a variety of body parts when they start hurting but swearing an oath upon them? Never.

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