What’s in a Word? {Book Review}

What’s in a Word is a trip down entomology lane. When I agreed to review the book for Thomas Nelson, I knew that I had just crossed the state line into Nerdom. Then again, maybe I was already there. I like flipping through encyclopedias for the fun of it.

Webb Garrison has been the go-to guy for entomology for years having written over 55 books, most of them dealing with words and random facts. This book was one of his last works and is the result of years of study. Garrison keeps the read entertaining as he pulls fact and history together to show how a word evolved over the years. Many words have lost their original meanings, like petticoat (okay, not an every-day word unless you write historical fiction), cruise, husband, wife, and lady. If you’re going to go with the historical meaning of lady, it refers to a woman who kneads and bakes bread. It doesn’t jive with our modern interpretation.

Mad as a Hatter was an interesting entry – probably because I had just gone to see Alice in Wonderland for the second time. Garrison explains how hatters suffered from mercury poisoning and had “twitching muscles, a lurching gait, incoherent speech, and confused minds.” In other words, exactly like Johnny Depp’s delightful character.

The book is interesting but isn’t the type that you’d stash in your satchel for any sort of trip. It’s more the type that you’d put up in the guest room or bookshelf and read bits and pieces when you feel like it.

Disclosure: I don’t get paid for my reviews for Thomas Nelson. I wish I did. Instead, I get free books and they get an honest opinion.

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