Take My Word for It
Three centuries of English idioms—their unusual origins and unexpected interpretations
To pay through the nose. Raining cats and dogs. By hook or by crook. Curry favor. Drink like a fish. Eat crow. We hear such phrases every day, but this book is the first truly all-encompassing etymological guide to both their meanings and origins. Spanning more than three centuries, Take My Word for It is a fascinating, one-of-a-kind window into the surprisingly short history of idioms in English. Widely known for his studies of word origins, Anatoly Liberman explains more than one thousand idioms, both popular and obscure, occurring in both American and British standard English and including many regional expressions.
The origins, and even the precise meaning, of most idioms are often obscure and lost in history. Based on a critical analysis of countless conjectures, with exact, in-depth references (rare in the literature on the subject), Take My Word for It provides not only a large corpus of idiomatic phrases but also a vast bibliography. Detailed indexes and a thesaurus make the content accessible at a glance, and Liberman’s introduction and conclusion add historical dimensions. The result of decades of research by a leading authority, this book is both instructive and absorbing for scholars and general readers, who won’t find another resource as comparable in scope or based on data even remotely as exhaustive.