The Etymologicon – A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth (The Inky Fool)

Did you know that:

  • International company Shell took that name because it originally sold shells before it diversified into oil;
  • Wikipedia, etymologically speaking, means fast child;
  • In golf, Bogey means a score for the hole of one over par whereas it originally meant par;
  • Cappuccino evolved from Capuchin monks and pants from St Pantaleon;
  • Torpedo originally referred to the armed submarine not the explosive device, and took its name from electric fish?

Do you care?  If, like me, you are mesmerised by the mazey, messy origin of words then you might want to get hold of a copy of The Etymologicon.  It does exactly what it says in the subtitle, meandering from word to word in a “circular stroll” more akin to a blog than a dictionary – not altogether surprising given it’s the “papery child” of the Inky Fool, a blog started by Mark Forsyth in 2009.  You’re probably better dipping in and out of the book rather than reading from cover to cover as I did.  Or you could just follow the Inky Fool http://blog.inkyfool.com.

** (worth reading)


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