Mark Forsyth

The Etymologicon

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'Witty and erudite … stuffed with the kind of arcane information that nobody strictly needs to know, but which is a pleasure to learn nonetheless.' Nick Duerden, Independent.

'Particularly good… Forsyth takes words and draws us into their, and our, murky history.' William Leith, Evening Standard.

The Etymologicon is an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language.

What is the actual connection between disgruntled and gruntled? What links church organs to organised crime, California to the Caliphate, or brackets to codpieces?

Mark Forsyth's riotous celebration of the idiosyncratic and sometimes absurd connections between words is a classic of its kind: a mine of fascinating information and a must-read for word-lovers everywhere.

'Highly recommended' Spectator.
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247 printed pages
Original publication
Publication year
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    Inna Shafikovashared an impression3 months ago
    👍Worth reading
    💡Learnt A Lot

    It is the best! It is probably the first time I've laughed since the war began


    Nataliia Dmytrenkohas quoted9 months ago
    So it was Carl and not Sigmund who decided that a psychological problem should be called a complex. Then he thought up introverts and extroverts, and finally, realising that naming was a doddle, he invented synchronicity and ambivalent. And with that he sat down to rest
    Nataliia Dmytrenkohas quoted9 months ago
    Analysis is Greek for release. So Freud’s new art would be, literally, the liberation of the butterfly. How pretty! Fr
    Nataliia Dmytrenkohas quoted9 months ago
    This was the belief of the Maoris, and of the Aztecs in whose mythology Itzpapalotl was the goddess of the Obsidian Butterfly: a soul encased in stone who could be freed only by another tongue-twisting god called Tezcatlipoca.

    There also seems to have been a ghost of this belief among the ancient Greeks. The Greek for butterfly was psyche, and Psyche was the goddess of the soul.

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