Excerpt from A Word A Day by Anu Garg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Word A Day

A Romp through Some of the Most Unusual and Intriguing Words in English

by Anu Garg

A Word A Day
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    Jan 2003, 224 pages

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Contents

Introduction.

  1. Animal Words.
  2. Latin Terms.
  3. Words to Describe People - I.
  4. Lesser-Known Counterparts of Everyday Words.
  5. Words for Odds and Ends.
  6. Reduplicatives.
  7. Discover the Theme I.
  8. Gender-Specific Nouns.
  9. Verbs.
  10. Coined Words I.
  11. Back-Formations.
  12. Portmanteaux.
  13. Short Words.
  14. Words That Make the Spell-Checker Ineffective.
  15. Names for Things.
  16. Words Formed by Metathesis.
  17. Words Not to Put On Your Résumé.
  18. A Verbal Zoo.
  19. Words From Medicine.
  20. Semordnilap.
  21. Words With Color as Metaphor.
  22. Words that Make One Say, "I Didn't Know there was a Word for That!"
  23. Wordpix I.
  24. Wordpix II.
  25. Wordpix III.
  26. Words with Offbeat Pluralizations.
  27. Words about Relations.
  28. Collective Nouns.
  29. Positive Words.
  30. Discover the Theme II.
  31. Lesser-Known Synonyms of Everyday Words.
  32. Words from Speeches.
  33. Words That Contain the Vowels AEIOU Once and Only Once.
  34. Coined Words II.
  35. English as a Global Language.
  36. Eponyms.
  37. Words about Words I.
  38. Uncommon Words with Common Suffixes.
  39. Words to Describe People II.
  40. Ordinal Words.
  41. Words for Odds and Ends.
  42. Red-Herring Words.
  43. Discover the Theme III.
  44. Newer Words in the Oxford English Dictionary.
  45. War of Words and Words of War.
  46. Words for Physical Characteristics Used to Describe People Figuratively.
  47. Words Evolved from Folk Etymologies.
  48. Words about Words II.
  49. Words Formed Using Combining Forms.
  50. Toponyms, or Words Derived from Place Names.
  51. Words for Body Parts That Are Used Metaphorically.
  52. Red-Herring Words Revisited.
  53. Words from Nature's Oeuvre.
  54. Words about People Who Love Books.
  55. Mondegreens and Other Linguistic Faux Pas.

Answers to the 'Discover the Theme' Chapters.
Bibliography.
Index of Words.

 

Chapter 1
Animal Words

It's a blessing to have a child at home. As a parent, I strive to answer my daughter Ananya's incessant questions about the moon and earthworms and clouds and trees and bears as truthfully as I can. Our investigations into these seemingly mundane matters often reveal insights that are learning experiences for both of us. But there are times when my thoughts are elsewhere and I simply answer the question "Why?" with "Because that's how God made them." I didn't know the joke was on me until the evening I found the corner of our living room wall scribbled with bright shades of crayons. When questioned why we had that mural on the wall, she simply replied, "Because that's how God made it."

Well, if we were to ask why a crab moves crabwise or sideways, that'd be a pretty good answer: because that's how God (or nature, depending on how your beliefs run) made crabs. Because that's how their legs bend. That's how their muscles flex. That's how they've adapted. That's how they survive as a species. And that's how we got a synonym for the word 'sideways' in our dictionary. If we were to look up the term 'humanwise' in a crab's dictionary, chances are it would mean 'sideways'.

Here are a few words derived from animals (the only animal-based products we use around here).



 

crabwise (KRAB-wyz)
adjective
1. Sideways.
2. In a cautious or roundabout manner.
From the sideways movement of crabs. Also see cancrine (Chapter 31).

  • And then in a true action-film manner, the hero began moving crabwise along the wall while scanning the alley for the villain.


Copyright 2003 by Anu Garg and Stuti Garg. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the author.

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