Review of The Book of Intriguing Words

Originally published in 3 parts, on March 28 to April 3, 2004.
Book 10 in my first 52 books challenge.

Entry 1:

Full title: The Wordsworth Book of Intriguing Words: The insomniac's dictionary of the outrageous, odd and unusual
Author: Paul Hellweg
Published: 1986 (as The Insomniac’s Dictionary)
Where got: University Student Bookstore
Genre: Dictionary, glossaries

I'm studying for exams and writing final essays for the next three weeks, so during that time I'm going to review some of the reference books I use in my field of study. To make it more fun, I'm going to pick some of the more unusual reference books in my library.

As a student of translation I am naturally interested in etymology, semantics and semiotics. This book is not only a nice way of finding unusual words, their meanings and origins, but it is also quite short for a dictionary and fun to read.

Entry 2:

Being a confirmed logolept, I like to collect words, and this dictionary was a windfall for me because it has plenty of unusual ones. Unlike regular dictionaries, it is not one long alphabetized list, but rather a series of chapters containing glossaries of words relating to a specific subject or theme. Naturally enough, the first chapter is all about word-words, all of them beginning, naturally enough, with the prefix logo.

It goes on from there, covering insomnia words, phobias and manias, killing words, types of divination, forms of government, eponyms, portmanteaus and acronyms, long and short words, interesting words no longer in use, consonant only words, word play, love, sex and marriage words, unusual words that don’t fall into any specific category, and three chapters on animal words: animal adjectives, names for baby animals and collective nouns for groups of animals.

It was in this last chapter that I found out that a group of ferrets is known as a business and a group of ravens as an unkindness. I don’t know when I’m going to be able to put this knowledge to use, but never mind, it’s still fun to know.

Seriously, the book HAS come in handy, especially the chapters on phobias and manias, and it is valuable for Scrabble players when all they have left is consonants.

Speaking of reference books: I recently discovered Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, and am planning to dupe my parents into giving me the updated Millenium Edition for my birthday. This wonderful book is full of fascinating and often completely useless information.

Entry 3:

A fun and fascinating collection of eclectic glossaries. Especially interesting for people who love unusual words, and handy for those who wish to increase their vocabulary. Too bad it's so short. 4 stars.


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