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Weird and Wonderful Words

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Simon Winchester

Do you know what a snollygoster is? Do you know anyone who engages in onolatry? Would you eat something called a muktuk? Impress your friends and pepper your dinner party conversations with such nuggets as gobemouche, mumpsimus, and cachinnate. Tie your … see full wiki

Author: Simon Winchester
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; illustrated edition edition (October 24, 2002)
1 review about Weird and Wonderful Words

Meet the colorful and strange side of English.

  • Mar 26, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
This informative, entertaining and amusing reference explains the meaning of hundreds of the most bizarre, astonishing and interesting words that, although technically a part of the English lexicon, have been laid aside from our everyday conversations and are now forgotten and waiting to be found.
Organized alphabetically in a dictionary format, each entry, written in a conversational style, provides a clear definition of a specific word. It often includes the word's origin, and sometimes it's accompanied by a humorous drawing that serves to illustrate both the word's meaning and its usage.
The book also contains a few particular and very funny sections that deal with groups of related words: anatomical terms, names of illnesses, words that begin with the letter "x," and words that end in "logy," among others.
Another hilarious section is "How to Create Your Own Weird and Wonderful Words," intended as a practical guide to help you coin your own unusual vocabulary by using Greek and Latin roots and loose linguistic rules to insure the most legitimate sounding spellings and pronunciation.
As a bonus, especially for those of us interested in doing some further reading, the author also supplies a list of web sites that feature the history and curiosities of the English language, and a list of Oxford dictionaries and reference books.
The only thing missing from this volume is a pronunciation guide, otherwise it is the perfect way to discover, by either direct consultation or casual browsing, the unusual words like ascesis, passiuncle and illywhacker, that decorate our language.
This book is a must-buy for word enthusiasts or trivia lovers alike.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar

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April 27, 2009
You won't be disappointed. I have several books (more than I should, actually) about the unusual curiosities of the English language, and this one and "More Weird and Wonderful Words" by the same authors are by far my favorites.
 
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