This book is a celebration of the versatility of language: the neologisms and portmanteaus that have slipped into modern parlance. From the origins of the emoticon (in 1912, would you believe) to a glorious section on the symbolism of colours, it’s a lovely book to keep and dip into.
Did you know that ‘rock and roll’ is named after the motion of a ship? You roll one way and rock the other, which a chap thought would alliterate nicely in a song for a ship-based musical he was working on.
I had no idea that ‘zoom’ was an adjective, describing a humming noise, before becoming a verb in the late nineteenth century when cars and such came in and a word was needed to describe the way they flew by.
Nor did I know that ‘focus’ is Latin for ‘hearth’ or ‘fireplace’, which was the centre, the focus, of the household.
As you can see, I found this just the most interesting, absorbing thing. The joy of etymology is the mutability of language, and Caroline Taggart communicates this perfectly.
Are you a massive word nerd like me? Your best etymological discoveries in the comments please!