Word Origins

Word Origins

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The average contemporary English speaker knows 50,000 words. Yet stripped down to its origins, this apparently huge vocabulary is in reality much smaller, derived from Latin, French and the Germanic languages. It is estimated that every year, 800 neologisms are added to the English language: acronyms (nimby), blended words (motel), and those taken from foreign languages (savoir-faire). Word Origins provides a concise history of over 8,000 of the most commonly used words. The range of information spans from derivations as simple as 'a' and 'one' from 'an', to the most obscure lexical relations. For instance 'vice', with its several uses in English (a wickedness, a holding tool), is derived via Old French from two separate Latin words: 'vitium' (defect, offence), and 'vitis' (vine) which gave 'viticulture'. Bloomsbury's Word Origins demonstrates how the diverse influences on English have given rise to some unlikely but fascinating lexical relations. Laid out in an A-Z format with detailed cross references, and written in a style that is both authoritative and accessible, the Bloomsbury Dictionary of Word Origins is a valuable historical guide to the English language.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 592 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 42mm
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Revised
  • 2nd Revised edition
  • 0747579989
  • 9780747579984

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'Very good' Observer 'Excellent' Yorkshire Postshow more

About John Ayto

John Ayto is a lexicographer and writer on language. He is Chief Etymologist on the Bloomsbury English Dictionary.show more