Port Out, Starboard Home: The Fascinating Stories We Tell About the words We Use

Kobo ebook | September 1, 2005

byMichael Quinion

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Can it really be true that 'golf' stands for 'Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden'? Or that 'rule of thumb' comes from an archaic legal principle that a man may chastise his wife, but only with a rod no thicker than his thumb?

These and hundreds of other stories are commonly told and retold whenever people meet. They grow up in part because expressions are often genuinely mysterious. Why, for example, are satisfying meals 'square' rather than any other shape? And how did anyone ever come up with the idea that if you're competent at something you can 'cut the mustard'?

Michael Quinion here retells many of the more bizarre tales, and explains their real origins where they're known. This is a fascinating treasure-trove of fiction and fact for anyone interested in language.

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From the Publisher

Can it really be true that 'golf' stands for 'Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden'? Or that 'rule of thumb' comes from an archaic legal principle that a man may chastise his wife, but only with a rod no thicker than his thumb?These and hundreds of other stories are commonly told and retold whenever people meet. They grow up in part because...

Format:Kobo ebookPublished:September 1, 2005Publisher:Penguin Books LtdLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0141909048

ISBN - 13:9780141909042

Customer Reviews of Port Out, Starboard Home: The Fascinating Stories We Tell About the words We Use

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best bet for Word and Phrase Origins I should hate this book: it has destroyed many of my cherished beliefs (and favourite stories) about the origins of words and phrases -- and not just about 'Posh' (one I was prepared to let go) but 'Elephant and Castle' and 'The Exception that Proves the Rule' among many others. The strength of this book is that it did all this without once making me feel stupid or ignorant. This is not an unrelenting bashing of misunderstandings but rather an enjoyable, often humourous, and always realistic and informed look at why we say what we say. Quinion points out both how the folk-etymologies have (probably) arisen and why they cannot be believed in a tone that is understanding, encouraging and gentle. There's no strident didacticism here. I have read (and own) many books on word and phrase origins; this one ranks at the top for both readability and usefulness.
Date published: 2006-11-04