01 October 2006


Michael Quinion is a word nerd. He's an expert on obscure terms, word etymologies, and the origins of strange expressions. His last book Port Out, Starboard Home discusses myths and false explanations for the meanings of well known sayings, and he runs an excellent compilation of lexical back-history at World Wide Words. This is his latest collection of notes on 'disappearing language' - terms that are vanishing from common usage for a variety of reasons. Some go because the object they describe no longer exists (liberty-bodice and sixpence) and some are meanings that disappear because the word is now used to describe something quite different (chaperone was in medieval times a sort of cap.) Mercifully, he splits up his offerings into themed chapters - on food and drink, health and medicine, entertainment and leisure, transport, fashion, then family names and ... Read more >>

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