What in the Word?

What in the Word? : Wordplay, Word Lore, and Answers to Your Peskiest Questions about Language

3.8 (60 ratings by Goodreads)

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Description

Are you so sure about "assure," "ensure," and "insure" ? Can you determine whether a knob of butter is equivalent to a lump or a pat or a scosh? Can you say which word in the English language has the most definitions, or who put the H in Jesus H. Christ? If you can't, be assured that Charles Harrington Elster, author of several well-loved works on language, can-and does in his latest book, a delightfully designed compendium of the most common, interesting, and entertaining conundrums in our language. Drawing upon esoteric sources and his own inimitable expertise, Elster uses a lively question-and-answer format to cover a variety of topics-word and phrase origins, slang, style, usage, punctuation, and pronunciation. Every chapter features original brainteasers, challenging puzzles, and a trove of literary trivia.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 286 pages
  • 132.1 x 195.6 x 12.7mm | 249.48g
  • United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0156031973
  • 9780156031974
  • 910,391

Back cover copy

Are you so sure about the plural of "octopus" or the difference between "i.e." and "e.g."? Do you know which word in the English language has the most definitions, or who put the H in Jesus H. Christ?
If you don't, be assured that Charles Harrington Elster does, and he tells all in this entertaining collection of the most interesting conundrums in our language. Using esoteric sources and his own inimitable expertise, Elster covers a variety of topics including word and phrase origins, slang, style, usage, punctuation, and pronunciation. Every chapter features original brainteasers, challenging puzzles, and a trove of literary trivia, so be prepared to play while you read.
"Delightfully funny and informative. Every page is filled with amazing and amusing facts about our quirky language. The Wordbook of the Year!"--Sol Steinmetz, coauthor of Meshuggenary: Celebrating the World of Yiddish
"This book is at once authoritative and lively. Elster knows how to have fun."--Bryan A. Garner, author of Garner's Modern American Usage
"A cornucopia of linguistic fun. Fill your horn!"--Anu Garg, creator of wordsmith.org
Charles Harrington Elster is a writer, broadcaster, and logophile--a lover of words. He is the author of several books and has been a guest columnist on language for the Boston Globe and the New York Times Magazine. He lives in San Diego.
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Review quote

PRAISE FOR"THE BIG BOOK OF BEASTLY MISPRONUNCIATIONS"

"Ek-STROR-di-ner-ee. The best survey of the spoken field in years."--William Safire, "The New York Times Magazine"
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Rating details

60 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 33% (20)
4 25% (15)
3 33% (20)
2 5% (3)
1 3% (2)
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