Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms (3 ed.) by John Ayto (Editor)Did you know that 'flavour of the month' originated in a marketing campaign in American ice-cream parlours in the 1940s, when a particular flavour would be specially promoted for a month at a time? And did you know that 'off the cuff' refers to the rather messy practice of writing impromptunotes on one's shirt cuff before speaking in public? These and many more idioms are explained and put into context in this third edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms.The volume takes a fresh look at the idiomatic phrases and sayings that make English the rich and intriguing language that it is. This major new edition contains entries for over 6000 idioms, including 700 entirely new entries, based on Oxford's language monitoring and the ongoing third edition ofthe Oxford English Dictionary. These include a range of recently established idioms such as 'the elephant in the corner', 'go figure', 'like a rat up a drainpipe', 'sex on legs', 'step up to the plate', 'too posh to push', 'a walk in the park', 'win ugly'. This edition also features a greatlyincreased number of cross-references, making it ideal for quick reference.Many entries include additional features which give more detailed background on the idiom in question. For example, did you know that 'taken aback' was adopted from nautical terminology that described a ship unable to move forward because of a strong headwind pressing its sails back against themast? Anyone interested in the colourful side of the English language will get hours of fun browsing from this fascinating and informative volume.
Publication Date: 2009-09-14
A Dictionary of Superstitions by Iona Opie (Editor); Moira Tatem (Editor)Is it good or bad luck to mention a pig to a fisherman? What does it portend when you break a double-yolked egg? Or when you witness a headless shadow? How many frogs do you need to cure whooping cough? And what's all this about black cats? Ranging from the familiar to the bizarre, and including everything from spells and omens to rituals and taboos, this delightfully informative dictionary covers a wide array of popular superstitions, touching on virtually every aspect of human culture. They embrace family life and the lore of farmers, sailors, miners, and actors; offer advice on the signs to observe when contemplating a journey or a marriage; reveal the significance of animals, plants, stones, colors, food and drink, the elements, and heavenly bodies; outline the precautions to be taken after a death in the house or during a thunderstorm; and disclose the motives behind seasonal customs at New Year, in May, at Halloween, and Christmas. Each entry is arranged alphabetically according to its central idea or object, and illustrated with a selection of chronologically ordered quotations that indicate the history and development of each belief. And a thematic index helps the reader discover surprisingly coherent patterns in these mysterious and often misunderstood methods of comprehending the world and overcomingits perils, and shows the strong underlying connections with witchcraft and pagan religions. Superstitions have never before been treated in such depth or on such a scale. An entertaining volume for anyone curious about the beliefs of the past, A Dictionary of Superstitions also makes a valuable contribution to the study of folklore, providing the first systematic account of beliefs that form an integral part of our social life.
Publication Date: 1992-10-29
A Dictionary of English Folklore by Jacqueline Simpson (Editor); Steve RoudAre there any legends about cats? Is Cinderella an English story? What is a Mumming Play? The subject of folklore covers an extremely wide field, with connections to virtually every aspect of life. It ranges from the bizarre to the seemingly mundane. Similarly, folklore is as much a featureof the modern technological age as the ancient world, of every part of the country, both urban and rural, and of every age group and occupation.Containing 1,250 entries, from dragons to Mother Goose, May Day to Michaelmas, this reference work is an absorbing and entertaining guide to English folklore. Aimed at a broad general readership, the dictionary provides an authoritative reference source on such legendary characters as The Sandman,Jack the Giant Killer, and Robin Hood, and gives entertaining and informative explanations of a wide range of subjects in folklore, from nosebleeds and wishbones to cats and hot cross buns.'From an exemplary, clear, and concise introduction to an admirably comprehensive, yet selective, bibliography, but above all from more than 1,250 A-Z entries in between, it is good to know that Oxford University Press can still commission and publish new standard reference titles. .. A welcomedegree of scholarly rigour...coverage is excellent...the quallity of the entries is also outstanding...It is all very readable, concise, and clear throughout - another one of those reference works one can wish to read from cover to cover...a huge amount of fascinating material in this clearly andattractively designed, deceptively concise and reasonably priced volume. It becomes at once a new standard reference book in its field...As such it belongs in any reference collection in or about England, and any collection dealing with folklore.' Library Review