The Colorful English Language

English is without a doubt one of the most colorful languages on the planet. And by colorful I don’t mean $$%#!@!. The language is definitely beautiful – anyone reading a Robert Frost poem can tell you that – but it is quirkier than we realize. The sillier side of English is sort of like the bridesmaid of the wedding. She may not be the center of attention, but she can sure let loose and have a ball.

I love puns and word play – Will Shortz is one of my favorite people – and I love to learn about why and how our favorite idioms came into play. A German friend of mine has commented that although she is fluent in the language, she’s not always fluent in its meaning. Sports metaphors, for example, always threw her for a loop (do not pardon the pun).  So, if you’ve ever wondered how the language or a phrase came to be, check out one of these books:

2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings & Expressions from White Elephants to a Song & Dance by Charles Earle Funk

Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof: Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences: With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory by Roy Blount

Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds: Ingenious Tales of Words and Their Origins by Michael Quinion

The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson

Heavens to Betsy! and Other Curious Sayings by Charles Earle Funk

I Love It When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech by Ralph Keyes

Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language by Seth Lerer

Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William Morris

Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language by Patricia T. O’Conner

The Real McCoy: The True Stories Behind Our Everyday Phrases by Georgia Hole

The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English by Henry Hitchings

Thereby Hangs a Tale: Stories of Curious Word Origins by Charles Earle Funk

What in the Word?: Wordplay, Word Lore, and Answers to the Peskiest Questions About Language by Charles Harrington Elster

The Word Detective by Evan Morris

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