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The phrase finder; three volumes in one,…
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The phrase finder; three volumes in one, comprising Nameword finder,…

by J. I. Rodale

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Published some 6 years after the Word Finder, Rodale's Phrase Finder is a distinctive thesaurus, a phrase dictionary, and a guide to names in mythology and literature. My gripe with Roget's Thesaurus is it always suggests things I could have through of myself: Rodale's Phrase Finder (and the companion book Word Finder) jog me out of sounding like a moderately educated early 21st-century person. (Very useful for a writer, even if you just want to get out of your own voice.)

The Phrase Finder says a rival might 'pluck a crow' with his enemy if he suddenly met him on the street (or 'raise Cain' or one of several more familiar phrases). It gives shades of meaning ('quarrel--see other entries for argue, squabble, discord, disagree'). If you are looking for something other than 'fighting' or 'shouting' in a sentence this is book for you.

The Phrase Finder also gives examples of famous doctors and artists, i.e. "she was a virtual _____, a very accomplished painter." It gives famous names for various personality traits and adjectives for various animals ("When the Baroness entered the room she (insert the word for resembling a fox, a cow, a partridge, a crocodile, etc.)" The Phrase Finder also explains who famous mythological and historical people were -- not what they did or when they were born, but how they are remembered (as embodiments of friendship, bravery, guile, etc.)

You may send your readers running for a dictionary but you won't sound like everyone else in the heap. J.I. Rodale was a writer, editor and publisher: he knew his way around the language and this book will help any writer think of less-cliched ways to express themself.

-Lisa Shapter ( )
  LisaShapter | Aug 28, 2011 |
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