Altered English: Surprising Meanings of Familiar Words

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Pomegranate, 2002 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 240 pages
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Over the Centuries, innumerable English words have drifted from their original purposes and acquired vastly diferent meanings -- some subtle and others not so. This process is a continuous one, as can be seen in today's word "bad, " whose meaning is now its own opposite: "great." As another example, consider England 500 years ago. Then, "improve" meant "to make progress in that which is evil." And there was no romantic "tryst" with a man or woman; then the word meant "a fair for black cattle, horses, and sheep"!

Author Jeffrey Kacirk, a man intrigued by words, has sifted through mountains of discarded meanings to arrive at almost 1,500 entries in this fascinating romp through the ever-changing world of lexicography. As he puts it, his goal is to "leave the reader with a sense of where many modern usages may have come from, or in some cases have strayed, whether we choose to think of the changes as corruptions or improvements."

Study the altered meanings in this erudite but full book and you'll be able to "razzle-dazzle" (originally, a daylong drinking bout) your friends and acquaintances. So indulge your fancy for linguistic "escapades" (no longer the plunging and rearing of a horse). The mind-expanding enjoyment of exhuming these forgotten meanings will "manure" (to enrich the mind) your personal lexicon.


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User Review  - vixen666 - LibraryThing

Good book for those who have an interest in words, and their origin. Another one of my mum's presents to me, but this one is really cool. Read full review


Engravings by George Cruikshank 17921878 and his contemporaries reproduced from three
Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data
Pomegranate Catalog No A623

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