The Accidental Dictionary

Our everyday language is full of surprises; its origins are stranger than you might think. Any word might be knocked and buffeted, subjected to twists and turns, expansions and contractions, happy and unhappy accidents. There are intriguing tales behind even the most familiar terms, and they can say as much about the present as they do the past.Busking, for instance, originally meant piracy. Grin meant to snarl. A bimbo was a man; nice meant ignorant; glamor was magic; and a cupboard was a table. Buxom used to mean obedient; a cloud was a rock; raunchy originally meant dirty.Focusing on one hundred surprising threads in the evolution of English, The Accidental Dictionary reveals the etymological origins and quirky developments that have led to the meanings we take for granted today. It is a weird and wonderful journey into words.

Paul Anthony Jones is a writer, etymologist, and language blogger. He is the author of several British books on trivia and language, including the widely acclaimed Word Drops: A Sprinkling of Linguistic Curiosities. He has contributed to the Guardian, the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Mental Floss and BBC Radio 4's The World at One, and he also runs @HaggardHawks, the hugely popular language-based Twitter account and YouTube channel. A piano teacher and musician, he lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.