Cover image for Weird and wonderful words
Weird and wonderful words
McKean, Erin.
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
xi, 132 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN6231.W64 W45 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Weird and Wonderful Words is a pot-pourri, a gallimaufry, a salmagundi, a treasure trove of colourful, quirky, and unusual words. Containing hundreds of definitions written in a clear and conversational style and full-page illustrations which offer a whimsical and hilarious view of ourglorious language. Amuse yourself and entertain your friends with your knowledge of who a snollygoster or a Funambulist may be, what a humdudgeon or a nubbingcheat was, or why you might want to engage in catopromancy.Appendices include a bibliography of Oxford dictionaries and a guide to creating your own unusual words correctly from Greek and Latin roots. The perfect stocking filler and gift book, Weird and Wonderful Words is sure to be a favourite of logophiles (word lovers) everywhere.

Author Notes

Erin McKean (Senior Editor, US Dictionaries Program) is the editor of the language quarterly Verbatim. Roz Chast (cartoonist) is the staff cartoonist for the New Yorker and author of more than five cartoon books.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This book is as wonderful as the weird words in it. McKean, editor of Verbatim and a dictionary editor at Oxford, has culled all manner of words that either sound unusual or mean something unusual. Have you ever heard of an otacust or a gallnipper? Have you ever worbled or been exauctorated? If not, you are missing something. Word lovers everywhere will have a great deal of fun with this book. In addition to the dictionary-style presentation, essays are sprinkled throughout (e.g., the fascinating "Irregular and Incredible Illnesses-Many Words for Diseases"), and a concluding essay explains how to create your own weird and wonderful words. To add to the reader's joy, McKean has included quirky and amazing illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast that add to the book's flavor and make it that much more intriguing. Because this book is meant to be fun rather than academic, there are no etymologies or pronunciation guides and not much detail for many of the words. But it doesn't really matter because the mandate here is silliness and fun. Funambulists, seplasiaries, and word lovers everywhere surely will want this book.-Manya S. Chylinski, Ctr. for Business Knowledge, Ernst & Young, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-Arranged alphabetically, this volume of unusual words defines terms from "aboulia the loss of will or volition, as a mental illness" to "Zyrian a former term for Komi, a language spoken by a people living in an area of northern Russia west of the Urals." Some sections on individual letters include discussions of certain types of words, such as those describing anatomy, illnesses, scientific "-logies," and "Peculiar and Prodigious Pigs." Whimsical black-and-white drawings are the highlights of the book. While amusing in their own right, they serve to illustrate the meanings of many of the words and their use in sentences. The volume concludes with sections on "How to Create Your Own Weird and Wonderful Words," Web sites that focus on the English language, and a bibliography of Oxford dictionaries. While this book may be interesting to logophiles, average readers may be frustrated by the lack of pronunciation guides for these unfamiliar words.-Linda Wadleigh, Oconee County Middle School, Watkinsville, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.