From 10 Words Derived from Islands (serendipity comes from Serendip, an old name for Sri Lanka) to 10 Words Coined by Dickens (he used snobbish in The Old Curiosity Shop), and from 10 Words Derived from ‘Mother’ (a metropolis is literally a ‘mother city’) to 10 Words Derived from Numbers (the duodenum is so called as it is typically twelve finger-breadths in length),Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons offers a fascinating collection of some of the most remarkable words and word origins in the whole of the English language.
Featuring more than 500 individual entries ranging from the everyday (noon, sardine, alarm, freelance) to the extraordinary (boeotian, ultracrepidarian, afghanistanism, triacontarchy) and the downright bizarre (molly-dooker, chautauqua, quaaltagh, ogopogo), the book is divided into a series of subject-based chapters like those above, which, as the title of the book suggests, each comprise a detailed list of ten individual words; in turn, each of these ‘ten words’ are accompanied by concise yet informative discussions of their origin, their history, their meaning or usage, or whatever else it is of note that makes them so remarkable. Accessibly arranged and as engaging as it is enlightening, Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons will appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in the English language – which, as is often claimed, should rightly include everyone!
Paul Anthony Jones was born in South Shields in 1983. Graduating with a Masters degree in English from the University of Newcastle in 2009, his first book The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer (2012) was inspired by a university study into the origins of English place names. This was quickly followed by two guides to English etymology, Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons (2013) – named as one of best language titles of the year by The Guardian – and its sequel, Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire (2014). Paul also runs the popular tie-in Twitter account, @HaggardHawks, which ha...
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