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The Devil in the Details: The Unexpected…
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The Devil in the Details: The Unexpected Origins of Weird English Words

by Emily Berns Heyser

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 148484579X, Paperback)

Have you ever wondered who the Davy Jones was in “Davy Jones’s locker” or why a celebrity with a short-lived career is called a “flash in the pan”? Have you ever asked yourself how “heebie-jeebies” came to mean “the creeps” or why things that are “OK” are also “hunky-dory”? If so, you will be intrigued by "The Devil in the Details: The Unexpected Origins of Weird English Words," an etymology book that manages to be both careful, accurate and thorough AND accessible, personal and fun. To author Emily Berns Heyser, uncovering the origins of an odd word or expression is something like solving a mystery or finding a hidden treasure. While preparing her entries, Heyser tracked down scores of primary sources and personally checked numerous old publications, including early dictionaries. After researching the theories behind a broad range of odd terms and expressions, she filters out the more risible and presents the more plausible in a lively manner, offering her own reasoned opinion about the evidence. She also provides context for each entry—and, in so doing, makes a larger point about the English language’s acquisitive, adaptive and inventive nature. Most importantly, "The Devil in the Details" reminds people that words tell stories and contain whole worlds of information. In fact, the weird words and expressions we use so naturally are living, breathing documents, recording both the intricate paths of human history and the sometimes-unpredictable ways human beings think.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:12 -0400)

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