For something that happens every year of our lives, we really don't know much about Christmas. We don't know that the date we celebrate was chosen by a madman, or that Christmas, etymologically speaking, means "Go away, Christ." Nor do we know that Christmas was first celebrated in 243 AD on March 28—and only moved to December 25 in 354 AD. We're oblivious to the fact that the advent calendar was actually invented... more...

From the internationally bestselling author of The Etymologicon, a lively and fascinating exploration of humankind's favorite pastime  Almost every culture on earth has drink, and where there's drink there's drunkenness. But in every age and in every place drunkenness is a little bit different. It can be religious, it can be sexual, it can be the duty of kings or the relief of peasants. It can be an offering to the ancestors, or a way of marking... more...

The largest single-volume dictionary in print celebrates the extraordinary breadth and changing nature of world English, with more than 100,000 entries and definitions added, and a total of 722,000 words, meanings, and phrases   The dictionary is drawn from the Collins Corpus, the largest word-gathering database in the world with more than 4.5 billion words, and combined with a selection of emerging... more...

Do you wake up feeling rough? Then you’re philogrobolized. Find yourself pretending to work? That’s fudgelling. And this could lead to rizzling, if you feel sleepy after lunch. Though you are sure to become a sparkling deipnosopbist by dinner. Just don’t get too vinomadefied; a drunk dinner companion is never appreciated. The Horologicon (or book of hours) contains the most extraordinary words in the English language, arranged according to... more...

From classic poetry to pop lyrics, from Charles Dickens to Dolly Parton, even from Jesus to James Bond, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase—such as “O Captain! My Captain!” or “To be or not to be”—memorable. In his inimitably entertaining and wonderfully witty style, he takes apart famous phrases and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or quip like Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming to achieve literary... more...

The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth's Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words. It's an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, and explaining precisely what the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.

The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth's Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words. It's an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, and explaining precisely what the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening. The Etymologicon is a brilliant map of the secret labyrinth that lurks... more...