The Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases

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9780198631590: The Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases

If foreign words and phrases are your "bete noire", here is a superb reference that offers coverage of over 8,000 foreign words and phrases that are in regular use in English today.
Readers will find clear definitions of words such as "fandango," "futon," "falsetto," "basmati," "bistro," "nouvelle cousine"--and many other words found in everyday speech as well as in musical direction, the arts, food, medicine, science (such as the very different meanings of "gamma" in astronomy, chemistry, physics, and photography), literature and belles-lettres. As one would expect in a language as global as English, the Dictionary draws words from a wide array of languages, including Afrikaans, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindustani, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Turkish. The entries are browsable, but also authoritative, with detailed information on each word or phrase, including any alternative spellings, the date of the word's introduction into English, its language or origin and original spelling, its definition, and notes on usage and other points of interest. The etymologies are often curious: "ukelele," for instance, is Hawaiian for "jumping flea" and "yakuza," the Japanese word for "gangster," literally means "8-9-3" (the worst possible hand in a popular gambling game). Quotations have been liberally sprinkled throughout to illustrate how the words are used in context.
Here then is a book that is "sine qua non" (absolutely indispensable) for all reference shelves.

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Review:

There are a number of foreign word and phrase dictionaries on the market, but Oxford's was compiled to keep up with the times. The contents are limited, for the most part, to words and phrases regularly encountered in 20th-century British and American English. On one page you'll find a worldly mix of "id ul-fitr" (Arabic, festival celebrating the end of the Ramadan fast), "ignoramus" (Latin, "we do not know"), "ikat" (Malay, an Indonesian decorative weave), "ikebana" (Japanese, the art of Japanese flower arrangement), and "illuminé" (French, the enlightened). From "aa" (Hawaiian, rough lava) to "Zwischenzug" (German, a determining chess move), there are 8,000 words and phrases from more than 40 languages to expand one's comprehension and broaden one's vocabulary.

About the Author:


Jennifer Speake is an experienced editor of reference books, including The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (with John Simpson).

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