Wobbly Bits is the essential guide to polite conversation. Covering everything from the politically incorrect to the seriously taboo, this humorous book offers over 3,000 ways to avoid speaking your mind! Keep this book as your secret weapon (that 'distinguished, cosmetically different person of size' your friend keeps mentioning might just not be your ideal date!), and you'll never be caught out again! Subjects covered include crime, sins, sex, the body and its parts, clothing and nakedness, bodily functions and secretions, illness and injury, old age and death, work, poverty, government and politics, warfare and race.
We say a lot about ourselves by what we don't say. Words and phrases like 'collateral damage', 'wardrobe malfunction', 'vertically challenged', and old favourites like 'unmentionables' (trousers, apparently) or 'lady of the night' - all are ways of not using particular words. UNMENTIONABLES is a rollicking exploration of the history of euphemistic usage, looking at how taboos connected to sex, death, religion, war, politics, business and matters of status have produced an extraordinary linguistic creativity, and how euphemistic speech has changed over the centuries. It looks at how euphemisms are born, and how they die (or 'experience a negative outcome') and it explores why it is that we create euphemisms, and the different purposes - from the benign to the sinister - that they serve. (Is 'euphemism' a euphemism for lying?) Lively, entertaining, and crammed with fascinating nuggets of information, UNMENTIONABLES is a celebration of the richness of language. Why have just one word for something when you can have ten other words instead?
Successful word-coinages--those that stay in currency for a good long time--tend to conceal their beginnings. We take them at face value and rarely when and where they were first minted. Engaging, illuminating, and authoritative, Ralph Keyes's The Hidden History of Coined Words explores the etymological underworld of terms and expressions and uncovers plenty of hidden gems. He also finds some fascinating patterns, such as that successful neologisms are as likely to be created by chance as by design. A remarkable number of new words were coined whimsically, originally intended to troll or taunt. Knickers, for example, resulted from a hoax; big bang from an insult. Casual wisecracking produced software, crowdsource, and blog. More than a few resulted from happy accidents, such as typos, mistranslations, and mishearing (bigly and buttonhole), or from being taken entirely out of context (robotics). Neologizers (a Thomas Jefferson coinage) include not just scholars and writers but cartoonists, columnists, children's book authors. Wimp originated with a book series, as did goop, and nerd from a book by Dr. Seuss. Coinages are often contested, controversy swirling around such terms as gonzo, mojo, and booty call. Keyes considers all contenders, while also leading us through the fray between new word partisans, and those who resist them strenuously. He concludes with advice about how to make your own successful coinage. The Hidden History of Coined Words will appeal not just to word mavens but history buffs, trivia contesters, and anyone who loves the immersive power of language.
Metaphor has long provided a rich way to speak about the unspeakable, to refer to delicate issues. Sex is one such area. This book follows a cognitive-linguistic and relevance-theoretic approach to the language of sex, considering metaphor as a bridge that brings together mind and language. It does this through the analysis of the antithetical mechanisms of verbal mitigation and offence. These two mechanisms are (more commonly know as) euphemism and (its lesser known companion term) dysphemism. The volume reflects on the social and communicative functions that sexual metaphors perform in a sample of almost two hundred postings taken from internet forums. How do people think about sex? How do people avoid talking about sex? How do people paraphrase sexual topics? It offers an account of how real language users understand sexual taboo in present-day English and also a great grounding in manual corpus work on a qualitative level.
What is it to 'cock a snook', where is the land of Nod, and who was first to go the extra mile? Find the answers to these questions (and many more!) in the new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms. This dictionary uncovers the meanings of myriad phrases and sayings that are used daily in the English language, encompassing more than 10,000 figurative expressions, similes, sayings, and proverbs. More than 400 idioms have been added to this new edition, and comprise recently coined and common sayings alike. New additions include 'back of the net', 'drag and drop', 'go it alone', 'how come?', 'if you ask me', 'make your skin crawl', and 'woe betide'. Illustrative quotations sourced from the Oxford corpora give contextual examples of the idioms and their standard usage, and many entries include background information on the origins of the idiom in question. An updated thematic index makes for easy navigation, and anyone who is interested in the origins and diversity of English vernacular will have hours of fun browsing this fascinating dictionary.
Drawing on the unique resources of the Oxford English Dictionary and offering coverage of over 6,000 slang words and expressions from the Cockney 'abaht' to the American term 'zowie', Stone the Crows is the most lively and authoritative dictionary of slang from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Did you know that 'flavour of the month' originated in a marketing campaign in American ice-cream parlours in the 1940s, when a particular flavour would be specially promoted for a month at a time? And did you know that 'off the cuff' refers to the rather messy practice of writing impromptu notes on one's shirt cuff before speaking in public? These and many more idioms are explained and put into context in this third edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms. The volume takes a fresh look at the idiomatic phrases and sayings that make English the rich and intriguing language that it is. This major new edition contains entries for over 6000 idioms, including 700 entirely new entries, based on Oxford's language monitoring and the ongoing third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. These include a range of recently established idioms such as 'the elephant in the corner', 'go figure', 'like a rat up a drainpipe', 'sex on legs', 'step up to the plate', 'too posh to push', 'a walk in the park', 'win ugly'. This edition also features a greatly increased number of cross-references, making it ideal for quick reference. Many entries include additional features which give more detailed background on the idiom in question. For example, did you know that 'taken aback' was adopted from nautical terminology that described a ship unable to move forward because of a strong headwind pressing its sails back against the mast? Anyone interested in the colourful side of the Englishlanguage will get hours of fun browsing from this fascinating and informative volume.