Why do good things cut the mustard? Who or what was the real Real McCoy? And why do we call false sentiment crocodile tears? Can crocodiles even cry? The word expert on Britain's long-running television game show Countdown, as well as the author of The Language Report and Words of the Year, Susie Dent tackles these and many other fascinating etymological puzzles in this browsable, entertaining little book. Dent explains, for instance, that moneylenders in 16th-century Italy conducted their business outdoors on benches and the usual Italian word for "bench" was "banca" (hence today's "bank"), while "bankrupt" comes from "banca rotta" or " broken bench" (as does the word "broke").
"A fun book ... from the folks who continue to print the remarkable Oxford English Dictionary—about English eccentricities that we've turned into everyday language."—Philadelphia Inquirer