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Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases, Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States

John Russell Bartlett

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ISBN 10: 1358969426 / ISBN 13: 9781358969423
Published by Palala Press, 2016
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Title: Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of ...

Publisher: Palala Press

Publication Date: 2016

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

About this title


This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

From the Inside Flap:

"BLUE STOCKING. A ridiculous epithet applied here as well as in England to literary ladies, and borrowed from that gallant nation the French. Called also simply a blue. . . .

"OLYCOKE. (Dutch, olikoek, oil-cake.) A cake fried in lard. A favorite delicacy with the Dutch, and also with their descendants, in New York. There are various kinds, as dough-nuts, crullers, etc. . . .

"TO SEE THE ELEPHANT is a South-western phrase, and means, generally, to undergo any disappointment of high-raised expectations. . . . For instance, men who have volunteered for the Mexican war, expecting to reap lots of glory and enjoyment, but instead have found only sickness, fatigue, privations, and suffering, are currently said to have ‘seen the elephant.’"

In 1848, these definitions–along with several thousand others–made their appearance in a revolutionary new lexicon of American slang: John Russell Bartlett’s now-classic Dictionary of Americanisms. A Rhode Island bookseller, politician, ethnographer, and all-around Yankee Renaissance man, Bartlett spent ten years on his Dictionary, compiling New England colloquialisms (to shoot one’s grandmother), borrowings from Native American languages (samp), Southernisms (huckleberry above the persimmon), political and business terms (Barnburners, bull and bear), New York Dutch words (smear-case), and new additions from the expanding Western frontier (to bark off squirrels, ranchero). The result is a glimpse into everyday life and language from the early decades of the republic, a dozen years before the Civil War.

Published to rave reviews, Bartlett’s book went through four editions, becoming a standard reference work in nineteenth-century America. Now with a new Foreword by bestselling word guru Richard Lederer, this facsimile edition of the 1848 original presents this classic piece of Americana–long out of print–to a new generation of history buffs and language mavens alike.

As Richard Lederer puts it, "the story of language in America is the story of our Declaration of Linguistic Independence, the separating from its parent of that glorious, uproarious, tremendous, stupendous, end-over-endous adventure we call American English." The Dictionary of Americanisms is a highly readable testament to that independence, and Bartlett’s anecdotes, quotes, and idiosyncratic definitions make for irresistible browsing. (Take a look at his entries for acknowledge the corn, Loco-foco, and Brother Jonathan, or the list of exotic nineteenth-century cocktails under liquor.) For anyone interested in America’s history, culture, or language, John Russell Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms is a remarkable rediscovery of a forgotten classic.

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