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Word Myths : Debunking linguistic urban legends - David Wilton

Word Myths

Debunking linguistic urban legends

Hardcover Published: 1st January 2005
ISBN: 9780195172843
Number Of Pages: 234

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Do you "know" that posh comes from an acronym meaning "port out, starboard home"? That "the whole nine yards" comes from (pick one) the length of a WWII gunner's belt; the amount of fabric needed to make a kilt; a sarcastic football expression? That Chicago is called "The Windy City" because of the bloviating habits of its politicians, and not the breeze off the lake?
If so, you need this book. David Wilton debunks the most persistently wrong word histories, and gives, to the best of our actual knowledge, the real stories behind these perennially mis-etymologized words.
In addition, he explains why these wrong stories are created, disseminated, and persist, even after being corrected time and time again. What makes us cling to these stories, when the truth behind these words and phrases is available, for the most part, at any library or on the Internet?
Arranged by chapters, this book avoids a dry A-Z format. Chapters separate misetymologies by kind, including The Perils of Political Correctness (picnics have nothing to do with lynchings), Posh, Phat Pommies (the problems of bacronyming--the desire to make every word into an acronym), and CANOE (which stands for the Conspiracy to Attribute Nautical Origins to Everything).
Word Myths corrects long-held and far-flung examples of wrong etymologies, without taking the fun out of etymology itself. It's the best of both worlds: not only do you learn the many wrong stories behind these words, you also learn why and how they are created--and what the real story is.

"Think "hot dog" was coined by a New York baseball vendor, or that a certain vulgarity originated as an acronym? Then you need to read this book, which shows that some of the best etymological stories are just tall tales."--Chicago Tribune (10 Best Books About Language, 2004) "Detailing the whole fascinating history behind words and phrases that, for one reason or another, have tall tales attached to them.... Buy it for: Armchair academics/cocktail party know-it-alls."--Philadelphia Weekly "Think "hot dog" was coined by a New York baseball vendor, or that a certain vulgarity originated as an acronym? Then you need to read this book, which shows that some of the best etymological stories are just tall tales."--Chicago Tribune (10 Best Books About Language, 2004) "Amateur, no make that professional logophile and word origins website editor Wilton corrects the mistakes many of us make in what we believe are the origins of words and phrases. He begins by examining the origins of these fallacies, and why we persist in perpetuating them. After relieving us of any misconceptions about the existence of Dr. Condom, and sorting out that pesky "crap" question, Wilton concludes with ways to find, and enjoy the true origins of words."--Reference & Research Book News "This fascinating collection of myths about word origins should be a joy to read."--Don McCreary, Department of English, University of Georgia.

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
What Is a Linguistic Urban Legend?p. 2
Where Do They Come From?p. 3
How Do They Vary?p. 6
Why Do We Tell Them?p. 7
How Are They Told?p. 10
Who Tells Them?p. 14
Are We Being Spoilsports?p. 14
How Do We Ferret Out the Truth?p. 16
Debunking the Big Boysp. 23
Ring Around the Rosiep. 24
OKp. 28
The Whole Nine Yardsp. 34
Rule of Thumbp. 38
They Speak Elizabethan English in the Appalachiansp. 44
500 Eskimo Words for Snowp. 50
Windy Cityp. 54
Hot Dogp. 58
The Elizabethan E-mail Hoaxp. 61
Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwaterp. 66
Raining Cats and Dogsp. 67
Dirt Poorp. 69
Thresholdp. 70
Pease Porridgep. 70
Bring Home the Baconp. 72
Chew the Fatp. 72
Trencher / Trench Mouthp. 72
Bed and Boardp. 73
Upper Crustp. 74
Wakep. 74
Graveyard Shiftp. 75
Saved by the Bell and Dead Ringerp. 76
Posh, Phat Pommiesp. 79
Ichthysp. 83
Cabalp. 83
AWOLp. 84
Fuckp. 87
News and Tipsp. 92
Golfp. 93
Spudp. 94
Wogp. 95
Nylonp. 96
SOSp. 97
Pommyp. 98
Phatp. 99
Poshp. 100
Canoep. 103
Devil to Payp. 104
Let the Cat Out of the Bagp. 104
Cold Enough to Freeze the Balls off a Brass Monkeyp. 106
Over a Barrelp. 108
Mind Your Ps and Qsp. 108
Under the Weatherp. 111
Knock Offp. 112
Son of a Gunp. 112
Railroad Originsp. 113
Balling the Jackp. 113
Balls to the Wallp. 114
Ethnic Originsp. 115
Lynchp. 115
Jazzp. 116
Americap. 123
Hookers, Harlots, and Condomsp. 129
Hookerp. 130
Harlotp. 131
Condomp. 133
Crapp. 137
In Like Flynnp. 139
Real McCoyp. 141
Dixiep. 145
Upsetp. 148
Pumpernickelp. 150
Ellis Island Name Changingp. 151
The Perils of Political Correctnessp. 155
Picnicp. 157
Nitty Grittyp. 159
Jimmiesp. 160
Indian / In Diosp. 163
Indian Giverp. 166
Squawp. 168
Hip / Hepp. 170
Gayp. 172
Faggotp. 175
Handicapp. 177
Politically Correctp. 179
Tinker's Damnp. 182
Wax Tadpoles and Jelly Doughnutsp. 185
I Am a Jelly Doughnutp. 186
Chevy No Gop. 188
Bite the Wax Tadpolep. 190
Turn It Loose and Fly Nakedp. 193
Kangaroop. 195
Gringop. 196
Conclusionp. 198
Notesp. 201
Selected Annotated Bibliographyp. 217
Indexp. 219
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195172843
ISBN-10: 0195172841
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 234
Published: 1st January 2005
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.5 x 14.7  x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.05