Reading (and reviewing) The Etymologicon

As all booklovers know, it is almost impossible to walk past a book shop and not be enticed inside. Only one thing is more tempting-a bookshop that is having a sale. It is pretty much fatal- you’re guaranteed to leave with yet more books to weigh down that already complaining bookshelf.

Last week I gave into the strong powers of the bookshop sale, and bought a copy of The Etymologicon, which is described as ‘A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language’. Whilst its long title made me fear it may be a little too close to reading a dictionary, I was happy to find that the book actually explores the strange (and humorous) connections between words, old and new, in a witty and uncomplicated way.


The author Mark Forsyth definitely has a sense of humour, beginning one of the sections with a stereotypical complaint of the British climate, one to which we can all relate: ‘Do you know the difference between the clouds and the sky? If you do, you’re lucky, because if you live in England, the two are pretty much synonymous. The clouds aren’t lined with silver. The weather is just miserable. It always has been and it always will be.’ He then goes on to explain the origin of the words ‘sky’ and ‘cloud’ in an equally witty manner.

Despite my initial apprehension, it turns out this is a good book for anyone who loves learning useless information, and its short sections make it perfect for the early morning commute to A&B (and for anyone with a short attention span!), and so far I am really enjoying it.

Charlotte Godfrey, currently doing wrok experience at A&B

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One thought on “Reading (and reviewing) The Etymologicon”

  1. I had the great fortune to meet Mark at the IPG conference in 2012, and shared a train journey with him back to London. He’s great company and just as witty as you’d expect from his marvellous book.

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