The Secret Lives of Words
Word enthusiasts will find trivia and treasure" (Kirkus Reviews) in this collection of unusual etymologies authored by an unmatched prose stylist and fabulous wordsmith.
Over the centuries, thousands of our words have been so twisted, tangled, misused, and muddled that their original meanings have been obscured. You'll be surprised to learn that table napkins were once made of and referred to as asbestos, a cloud was once a hill, and lasagna could be
literally translated as chamberpot pasta. In The Secret Lives of Words, acclaimed author and stylist Paul West fulfills a personal odyssey to seek out the elusive roots of these and a few hundred other of his favorite words, from abracadabra to zoot suit. Derived from handwritten notebooks, West chronicles the tortuous travels of words across continents and through cultures in this Antiques Road Show approach to etymology. A delight in both form and content, West's collection will capture the attention of word enthusiasts, speakers, writers, thinkers, and readers around the globe.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - raizel - LibraryThing
I've skimmed this book and it looks interesting. It is a list of words with comments about their origins and use. And in his explanations of the first and last words (abacus and zymurgist), he goes from dust to dust. Read full review
The secret lives of wordsUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Since his student days, West, the celebrated author of 18 novels (e.g., Life with Swan, LJ 2/1/99) and a dozen works of nonfiction and poetry, has kept notebooks of words that intrigue him, especially ... Read full review