Devious Derivations: Popular Misconceptions, and More Than 1,000 True Origins of Common Words and Phrases

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Crown Publishers, 1994 - English language - 245 pages
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In this marvelously entertaining book, word maven Hugh Rawson rounds up 1,000 words and phrases whose origins are not what you might expect. Some wiseacre (the word has nothing to do with land measure) may have told you that a tip is given to a waiter "to insure promptness," or that S.O.S. stands for "Save Our Ship," or that hooker is a tribute to the character of Joseph Hooker, the Civil War general. Like hundreds of popular etymologies, these oft-repeated accounts are just too good to be true. Now Mr. Rawson punctures the myths, gives the real derivations, and along the way provides many insights into how language works.

"From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Devious derivations: popular misconceptions--and more than 1, 000 true origins of common words and phrases

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If William Safire and David Letterman ever collaborate on a book about words, this could be their model. Beginning with adulteress (erroneously attributed to an au pair who called grown men "adults ... Read full review


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About the author (1994)

Hugh Rawson is the author of Wicked Words and A Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk. He is a member of The Authors Guild, and is Director of Penguin Reference Books.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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