Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English by Chloe Rhodes link for A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”
There can’t be a more American word than “dungarees”, right? Actually, according to author Chloe Rhodes, the word dungarees comes from a Hindi word Dungri which is a cotton cloth used for sails and tents in India. This is the type of word information contained in A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi.

Listed alphabetically, the book gives not only the origin of the words we use, but also how they became included in our language. Many of the words we hear regularly, kowtow, alma mater, kudos, and glitch, have their origins in other countries around the world. How appropriate is the origin of the word “paparazzi” which is an Italian word for mosquitoes!
This is an entertaining book filled with information for those with an interest in words and for those who want to use them correctly. This is the most recent book in a series by Reader’s Digest. The other books in the series are:
I before e (except after c) – featuring memory-jogging mnemonics
I Used to Know That – Facts we may have forgotten from school. (Reviewed here on Bookvisions)
Under the Covers and Between the Sheets – facts and quips about books and authors
My Grammar and I (or should it be me) – A practical guide to improve speaking and writing
Oh Say, Did You Know – myth busting facts from history


  1. This seems like a book for me. My hubby cracks up at me when I tell him where I think a word came from or ask him where he thinks one came from. I thought I was the only one who thought like this!! Dropping by from SITS.

  2. Love it! Must find this book-- I've always had a thing about the origin of words and idioms.


  3. Some of the word meanins were were so surpising! Now I need to read their book on grammar. I've been out of school too long!

  4. Ummm, that was supposed to read meanings - guess my typing skills are lacking too!


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