Word Myths
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Word Myths : Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends

3.38 (276 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Do you "know" that posh comes from an acronym meaning "port out, starboard home"? That "the whole nine yards" comes from (pick one) the length of a WWII gunner's belt; the amount of fabric needed to make a kilt; a sarcastic football expression? That Chicago is called "The Windy City" because of the bloviating habits of its politicians, and not the breeze off the lake? If so, you need this book. David Wilton debunks the most persistently wrong word histories, and gives, to the best of our actual knowledge, the real stories behind these perennially mis-etymologized words. In addition, he explains why these wrong stories are created, disseminated, and persist, even after being corrected time and time again. What makes us cling to these stories, when the truth behind these words and phrases is available, for the most part, at any library or on the Internet? Arranged by chapters, this book avoids a dry A-Z format. Chapters separate misetymologies by kind, including The Perils of Political Correctness (picnics have nothing to do with lynchings), Posh, Phat Pommies (the problems of bacronyming-the desire to make every word into an acronym), and CANOE (which stands for the Conspiracy to Attribute Nautical Origins to Everything). Word Myths corrects long-held and far-flung examples of wrong etymologies, without taking the fun out of etymology itself. It's the best of both worlds: not only do you learn the many wrong stories behind these words, you also learn why and how they are created-and what the real story is.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 147.3 x 210.8 x 25.4mm | 317.52g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 8 cartoons
  • 0195172841
  • 9780195172843
  • 2,020,398

About David Wilton

David Wilton, a writer, lives in California. He runs the popular website Wordorigins.com.show more

Review quote

"This fascinating collection of myths about word origins should be a joy to read."-Don McCreary, Department of English, University of Georgia.show more

Review Text

"This fascinating collection of myths about word origins should be a joy to read."-Don McCreary, Department of English, University of Georgia.show more

Rating details

276 ratings
3.38 out of 5 stars
5 14% (40)
4 25% (70)
3 45% (125)
2 13% (37)
1 1% (4)
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