The Etymologicon Book Summary - The Etymologicon Book explained in key points

The Etymologicon summary

Brief summary

The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth is a captivating exploration of the surprising and often humorous origins of the English language. From everyday words to obscure terms, this book uncovers the fascinating stories behind our linguistic evolution.

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    The Etymologicon
    Summary of key ideas

    Uncovering the Quirks of Language

    In The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth, we embark on a journey to uncover the strange and surprising origins of words. Forsyth begins by explaining the etymology of the word 'etymology' itself, revealing that it stems from the Greek word 'etumon', meaning 'true', and 'logos', meaning 'word'.

    We then delve into the etymology of the word 'bride', which turns out to have a rather morbid origin. It is derived from the Proto-Indo-European word 'bru', meaning 'to cook or brew', as the original meaning of 'bride' was a woman who was 'cooked' or 'brewed' for marriage. This surprising origin sets the tone for the rest of the book, as Forsyth continues to uncover the unexpected and often dark roots of our language.

    The Curious Evolution of Words

    Forsyth then takes us through a series of words and their fascinating etymologies. We learn that the terms 'salt' and 'soldier' are etymologically linked, as Roman soldiers were given an allowance to buy salt, known as 'salarium', from which we derive the word 'salary'. This etymological connection is just one of the many surprising ways in which language has evolved over time.

    He also discusses the evolution of the word 'f***'. We learn that it was not always considered the crass word it is today, but rather a common and acceptable term. The word was used in many contexts, from describing the act of sex to being a general intensifier. It was only in the 16th century that it began to take on its more vulgar connotations.

    Language's Historical Connections

    As we continue our linguistic exploration, we find that words often carry historical connections. For example, the word 'parliament' is derived from the French word 'parler', meaning 'to talk'. This etymology highlights the essential function of a parliament: a place where people come together to talk and discuss matters of importance.

    Another example is the word 'clue', which comes from the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. The hero Theseus used a ball of thread to navigate the labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur. The Greek word for 'ball of thread' is 'clew', which later evolved into the word 'clue' as a metaphor for solving a problem.

    Witty and Engaging Exploration

    In The Etymologicon, Forsyth's exploration of language is not only informative but also witty and engaging. He has a knack for weaving together historical anecdotes and linguistic facts in a way that makes the book a delight to read. By the end of the book, we are left with a newfound appreciation for the quirks and intricacies of the English language.

    In conclusion, The Etymologicon is an illuminating and entertaining journey through the history and evolution of words. It reveals that language is a living entity, constantly changing and adapting, and that the words we use today carry with them a rich tapestry of history and meaning.

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    What is The Etymologicon about?

    The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth is a fascinating exploration of the origins of words and phrases in the English language. With wit and humor, the book uncovers the hidden connections between seemingly unrelated terms, taking readers on a journey through etymology. From the quirks of everyday language to the surprising history behind familiar expressions, this book offers a delightful and informative look at the evolution of the words we use.

    The Etymologicon Review

    The Etymologicon (2011) delves into the fascinating world of word origins and their interconnected stories, making it a captivating read for language enthusiasts. Here's why you should dive into this book:
    • Unveiling intriguing etymological connections, it sheds light on how words evolve and intertwine through history, offering a fresh perspective on language.
    • Through entertaining anecdotes and historical references, it transforms what could be a dry subject into an engaging exploration of linguistic evolution.
    • The book's playful tone and witty storytelling ensure that every page is filled with surprises and humor, guaranteeing an enjoyable and enlightening reading experience.

    Who should read The Etymologicon?

    • Language enthusiasts who enjoy exploring the origins and connections of words

    • Curious individuals who want to deepen their understanding of the English language

    • Readers who appreciate a humorous and entertaining approach to etymology

    About the Author

    Mark Forsyth is a British author known for his witty and engaging exploration of the English language. With a background in linguistics and a passion for etymology, Forsyth has written several books that delve into the fascinating origins of words and phrases. His work, including 'The Etymologicon' and 'The Horologicon', has garnered widespread acclaim for its entertaining and informative approach to language. Forsyth's unique ability to make complex linguistic concepts accessible to a wide audience has made him a beloved figure in the world of popular linguistics.

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    The Etymologicon FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Etymologicon?

    The main message of The Etymologicon showcases the fascinating journey of words and their origins.

    How long does it take to read The Etymologicon?

    Reading time for The Etymologicon varies. The Blinkist summary can be read swiftly.

    Is The Etymologicon a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Etymologicon is a delightful read uncovering the surprising stories behind everyday words.

    Who is the author of The Etymologicon?

    The author of The Etymologicon is Mark Forsyth.

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