Origin Uncertain: Unraveling the Mysteries of Etymology (Hardcover)

Origin Uncertain: Unraveling the Mysteries of Etymology By Anatoly Liberman Cover Image
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Lost origins of words revealed.

We like to recount that goodbye started out as "god be with you," that whiskey comes from the Gaelic for "water of life," or that avocado originated as the Aztec word for "testicle." But there are many words with origins unknown, disputed, or so buried in old journals that they may as well be lost to the general public. In Origin Uncertain: Unraveling the Mysteries of Etymology, eminent etymologist Anatoly Liberman draws on his professional expertise and etymological database to tell the stories of less understood words such as nerd, fake, ain't, hitchhike, trash, curmudgeon, and quiz, as well as puzzling idioms like kick the bucket and pay through the nose. By casting a net so broadly, the book addresses language history, language usage (including grammar), history (both ancient and modern), religion, superstitions, and material culture.

Writing in the spirit of adventure through the annals of word origins, Liberman also shows how historical linguists construct etymologies, how to evaluate competing explanations, and how to pursue further research.

About the Author

Anatoly Liberman is Professor in the Department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch at the University of Minnesota. He is a linguist, medievalist, etymologist, and poet who has published widely on word origins and etymology, including Word Origins . . . And How We Know Them (OUP 2005). He has written the "Oxford Etymologist" blog series for OUP since 2006.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780197664919
ISBN-10: 0197664911
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: April 1st, 2024
Pages: 344
Language: English