The secret lives of words

Front Cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade & Reference Publishers, 2000 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 296 pages
5 Reviews
We are often unaware of the unique and intriguing stories of the words we love. Thousands of our words have been so twisted, tangled, misused, and muddled over the centuries that their original meaning has been obscured. You'll be surprised to learn that table napkins were once made of and referred to as asbestos, that atom means uncuttable, that a cloud was once a hill, and that a companion is one who eats bread with you. Compiled over the years in his handwritten notebooks, acclaimed prose stylist Paul West offers us an album of treasures. The Secret Lives of Words is an "Antiques Road Show" of language, in which West chronicles the centuries-long travels of words across continents and through cultures. For word enthusiasts, speakers, writers, thinkers, and all readers, this volume recounting the intimate ancestry of language will enrich our understanding of and appreciation for the words we use every day.

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Review: The Secret Lives of Words

User Review  - Pam - Goodreads

Fun little reference book on the origin of some unique words. Read full review

Review: The Secret Lives of Words

User Review  - Marianna Monaco - Goodreads

An interesting exploration the the mind of Paul West, and the words he chooses to write about, and the histories (personal and otherwise) and meanings he gives them. Read full review

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About the author (2000)

Paul West, called "a national treasure," is the author of eighteen novels, most recently Life with Swan, and ten works of nonfiction. A recipient of numerous awards and honors, he has taught at Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Arizona. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

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