Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds: Ingenious Tales of Words and Their Origins

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9780060851538: Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds: Ingenious Tales of Words and Their Origins

The cat's pajamas, the bee's knees, and the whole nine yards rolled into one, this true feast for word lovers skewers commonly accepted word-origin myths and etymological folktales. Writing with flair and authority, word maven and Oxford English Dictionary contributor Michael Quinion shows us that the real story behind a word or phrase is often much stranger than the commonly accepted one. With this book in your arsenal, you'll have the last word in every word-lover's game of one-upmanship. So if you've ever wondered why we utter such oddities as "raining cats and dogs," "I couldn't care less," or "twenty-three skidoo," this one's for you. No ballyhoo!

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About the Author:

Michael Quinion hosts and writes the World Wide Words Web site and is a contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary.

From Publishers Weekly:

Logophile Quinion, who writes a column about new words for the Daily Telegraph, proves his knowledge of familiar phrases in this energetic look at common English words and idioms. The first known use of the term "cut and dried," for example, occurred in 1710, in reference to an uninspired sermon; like herbs precut for sale in markets, the sermon lacked freshness. The notion of a "graveyard shift" did not arise from Victorian-era workers minding cemeteries to make sure people weren’t accidentally buried alive ("I love such stories, complete and utter hogwash though they are," notes the author), but dates from the early years of the 20th century, and is merely an evocative term for the night shift. From "Akimbo" (perhaps Old Norse in origin) to "Zzxjoanw" (an etymological hoax rather than a real word), Quinion tours the English language, not always offering definitive answers but generally providing the next best thing: good theories.
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