phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by ESC on July 17, 2000

In Reply to: I can't believe it! posted by Gary on July 17, 2000

: : Hi,

: : A while back I posted the message below. I can't believe that none of you word and phrase lovers have a favorite reference book. A number of them have been mentioned in the past, in earlier threads. But since few of us can find these books, except by special order, it isn't possible for people like me to compare them by sitting in the bookstore and leafing through. So, please help out! Offer an opinion about which is the 'all-round' best. Just an opinion...

: : Original message: Is there a single good reference book that you could recommend for colorful 20th century American phrases? I'm thinking of something that might delve back into earlier decades of the century, too.

: : Also, does the book you have in mind mainly cover longer phrases, or does it include two and three word slang too? Thanks...

: : Patty

: Patty,

: In view view the Oxford English Dictinary is the best reference, but as you mentioned specifically American phrases the Morris and Hendrikson books listed are both good. They include single words as well as phrases/sayings.

: Gary

I didn't respond because I'd already posted my list. But here it is again:

"A Hog on Ice" (1948, Harper & Row) by Charles Earle Funk. This is one in a series of four books by Mr. Funk. All four are now available in one volume.

"Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

"Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

"Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Fact on File, New York, 1997)


"Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. And, of course H-O.