Tuesday 4 January 2022

Word Perfect: Etymological Entertainment for Every Day of the Year, Susie Dent

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Dent’s compendium of unusual and forgotten words will give you a glimpse into our etymological history. Often she links the daily word to the date in question, revealing histories, superstitions, and apt descriptions for how you’re likely to be feeling on, say, New Year’s Day. Many of the days give you definitions other words too, so your vocabulary can expand well beyond the 365 days of the year.

There are tales of spelling errors that eventually become legitimised, the origins of some well-known sayings such as stealing someone’s thunder (which has early links to theatrical shenanigans), and quirks of history. You’ll close the book for the final time having learnt far more than a collection of new words. So whether you are plagued by a gigglemug or have the misfortune of working with a mumpsimus, you’ll suddenly find yourself with words to describe those undefinable annoyances.

The entries are short enough that it’s not too much of a commitment to pick it up every day, and you’ll find yourself enjoying thinking about words far more than previously imagined. A great book for the etymologically curious.

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