The Etymologicon

The Etymologicon : A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language

4.22 (9,005 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Witty and erudite ... stuffed with the kind of arcane information that nobody strictly needs to know, but which is a pleasure to learn nonetheless.' Nick Duerden, Independent.

'Particularly good ... Forsyth takes words and draws us into their, and our, murky history.' William Leith, Evening Standard.

The Etymologicon is an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language.

What is the actual connection between disgruntled and gruntled? What links church organs to organised crime, California to the Caliphate, or brackets to codpieces?

Mark Forsyth's riotous celebration of the idiosyncratic and sometimes absurd connections between words is a classic of its kind: a mine of fascinating information and a must-read for word-lovers everywhere.

'Highly recommended' Spectator.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 20mm | 408.23g
  • Duxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1848313071
  • 9781848313071
  • 11,213

Review quote

'[Forsyth] riff[s] very entertainingly on the hidden connections of words (from brackets and codpieces, to cappuccinos and monkeys).' -- Robert McCrum, The Guardian 'The stocking filler of the season.' -- Robert McCrum, The Observer 'Witty and erudite ... stuffed with the kind of arcane information that nobody strictly needs to know, but which is a pleasure to learn nonetheless.' -- Nick Duerden, Independent 'This witty book liberates etymology from the dusty pages of the dictionary and brings it alive.' -- Good Book Guide 'From Nazis and film buffs to heckling and humble pie, the obscure origins of commonly-used words and phrases are explained.' -- Daily Telegraph 'A collection of verbal curiosities ... fascinating.' -- Spectator 'A perfect bit of stocking filler for the bookish member of the family, or just a cracking all-year-round-read. Highly recommended.' -- Spectator 'Light, entertaining and fascinating ... This is really one of those books where you have to fight hard to resist telling anyone in earshot little snippets every five minutes.' -- Brian Clegg 'An absolute gem ... a pleasure to read.' -- Books Monthly 'I want this book to be never-ending ... a real winner.' -- Books Monthly 'It makes for a very good read ... a perfect Christmas gift for anyone who might be interested in where our words come from.' -- A Common Reader 'I adored this book. I read and read and then I read some more until it was all gone. It was just my cup of tea, well presented, engaging, witty, wonderful. Full of usable facts and great anecdotes, it's one of the only 'history' books I've read this year that was anything other than dull as dishwater. Full marks.' -- The Bookbag 'Mark Forsyth, who blogs as 'The Inky Fool,' is an extreme and hugely entertaining practitioner.' -- Financial Times 'The subtitle ... 'A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language' ... is a misdescription. It is not a stroll; it is a plunge on a toboggan where the only way to stop is to fall off.' -- Financial Times 'I'm hooked on Forsyth's book - Crikey, but this is addictive.' -- Mathew Parris, The Times 'Kudos should go to Mark Forsyth, author of The Etymologicon - Clearly a man who knows his onions, Mr Forsyth must have worked 19 to the dozen, spotting red herrings and unravelling inkhorn terms, to bestow this boon - a work of the first water, to coin a phrase.' -- The Daily Telegraph 'This year's must-have stocking filler - the angel on the top of the tree, the satsuma in the sock, the threepenny bit in the plum pudding, the essential addition to the library in the smallest room is Mark Forsyth's The Etymologicon.' -- Ian Sansom, The Guardian ''The Etymologicon' contains fascinating facts' -- Daily Mail
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About Mark Forsyth

Mark Forsyth is a writer, journalist and blogger. His book The Etymologicon was a Sunday Times Number One Bestseller and his TED Talk 'What's a snollygoster?' has had more than half a million views. He is also the author of The Horologicon and The Elements of Eloquence, and wrote a specially commissioned essay The Unknown Unknown for Independent Booksellers Week. He lives in London with his dictionaries, and blogs at
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Rating details

9,005 ratings
4.22 out of 5 stars
5 44% (3,995)
4 37% (3,349)
3 15% (1,372)
2 3% (235)
1 1% (54)
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