|In this entertaining compendium, Robert Hendrickson, author of numerous popular works on language and literature, traces the sometimes bizarre and always fascinating origins and developments of more than 9,000 words and phrases, including slang, proverbs, animal and plant names, place names, nicknames, historical expressions, foreign-language expressions, and more. The emphasis throughout is on words and expressions with origins that are not adequately explained-or not addressed at all-in standard dictionaries. This greatly expanded and revised version of the critically acclaimed 1987 original offers more than 2,000 new entries, including:
paparazzi: Director Frederico Fellini named a hyperactive photographer in his film La Dolce Vita Signore Paparazzo, after Italian slang for "mosquito". The popularity of Fellini's film led to the widespread use of the term paparazzi for relentless swarms of celebrity-chasing photographers.
Quaaludes: The inventor of Quaaludes named his new drug after a contraction of quiet interludes-which he hoped it would induce.
toady: In the 17th century, conjurer's assistants would eat a toad, causing temporary illness that they would later "heal," thereby demonstrating their "miraculous" powers. The assistants came to be known as "toad-eaters," from which derives our modern insult toady.