Cover image for In a word-- : 750 words and their fascinating stories and origins
In a word-- : 750 words and their fascinating stories and origins
Baker, Rosalie F.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
Peterborough, N.H. : Cobblestone Pub., [2003]

Physical Description:
ix, 221 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Cultural creations -- Worldly words -- Math madness & science spectacles -- Religious rituals, fabulous folklore, & marvelous myths -- Exceptional expressions -- Glorious gizmos -- Spectacular sports -- Joyful journeys -- Natural necessities -- Auspicious archaeology -- Political powerhouse -- Military madness -- Tantalizing tidbits -- Fickle finances -- Fantastic foreigners.
Added Author:
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PE1574 .B25 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area

On Order



What's in a word? A lot, as IN A WORD tells us! Words travel through time and evolve---taking on new characteristics, new meanings, and providing fascinating tales of people, places, and times long ago. Each entry of IN A WORD tells its tale in a witty short-story style, often accompanied by fun illustrations.

Though several of the entries in the book provide the kind of linguistic details found in the finest dictionaries, IN A WORD's lively, anecdotal style makes it more entertaining than a traditional reference book. It's a perfect addition to any family home, or as a gift.

The book also comes with a language chart and index. With an introduction by a linguistics scholar.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-8. Drawn from Cobblestone magazine's monthly column, Calliope, the entries in this book discuss the meanings and derivations of 750 words and phrases. The arrangement is topical, with broad subject categories such as archaeology, clothing, or the military. One chapter features expressions such as beyond the pale and slush fund, and another explains foreign words and phrases such as chutzpah and laissez faire. A typical page includes several entries explained in single-paragraph discussions. While exploring word origins, Baker also touches on interesting facets of European history and Greek mythology. The jaunty illustrations are reproduced in black and shades of gray. A chart on the last double-page spread illustrates the branches of Indo-European languages. Best read in small sections or used for reference, this informative book fosters an appreciation for the richness of the English language. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2004 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-9-Spanning a broad range of topics, this collection of word origins informs and entertains readers. Organized into 16 chapters with catchy titles such as "Military Madness," "Glorious Gizmos & Great Grub," and "Tantalizing Tidbits," the concise entries are both relevant and thoughtful. "Exceptional Expressions" is a particularly fun chapter for browsing, as it offers historical context and origins of commonly used phrases such as "baker's dozen," "chew the fat," and "go berserk." Amusing black-and-white drawings and bits of pertinent trivia appear throughout. Younger students who are still developing their vocabulary and cultural knowledge may find some of the explanations a bit esoteric, but generally comprehensible. One minor drawback is that pronunciations are located in the index instead of with the actual entry, which can be a bit cumbersome. More accessible, but less comprehensive than The Facts On File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins (Facts On File, 1997), this is a solid choice for librarians wanting to update their English language collections.-Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.