Title: The Accidental Dictionary
Author: Paul Anthony Jones
Page Count/Review Word Count: 244
This book’s an interesting one. On the one hand, I learned a lot about the origins of a number of different words, but on the other, it started to get repetitive. Personally, I think it was just the right length, but you have to bear in mind that not everyone loves words as much as me.
But then, I’ve read the Oxford English Dictionary, and it seems to me that reading this is much more fun, and that it’s also likely to teach you more along the way. What was interesting to me was that so many of the words that we take for granted have long and illustrious histories, with some of them starting out their lives with completely different meanings. Some of them even had the opposite meaning, which was something of an eye-opener.
It’s also interesting to read the historical documents that Jones’ research unearthed, which use the original words in context. The examples would be interesting in their own right, but they also had the side effect of making you learn other things that you wouldn’t pick up on if you were reading a typical dictionary.
Overall then, this is more like a full non-fiction book than a reference book. The Accidental Dictionary is the right title for it, because that’s exactly what it is. Well worth reading.