Words are chameleons, they start out meaning one thing, and being spelled in a particular way, and before you know it the spelling has changed and they now mean the total opposite to what you thought. In The Accidental Dictionary, Paul Anthony Jones has taken 100 words that almost everyone would know or be familiar with and peeled back the layers of history behind each word to reveal the startlingly different meanings that they had originally.

During this strange and wonderful journey we will discover how alcohol once was eye shadow, a blockbuster was a bomb, hijinks was a drinking game and that a secretary could always keep a secret. The short, witty essays on each chosen word are fascinating, you can see the evolution on some words and others will surprise you in the way that they have flipped and twisted before settling in the form we know them these days. But they will no doubt change and evolve again.

The Accidental Dictionary is both fascinating and rigorous at the same time. Jones writes in an entertaining and informative way, and it is littered liberally with quotes and verse, making this an engaging book to read too. It is a great little book for the etymological nut, and for those that cherish the book, this has a stunning gold leaf print on the cover.

Paul Cheney 4/3

The Accidental Dictionary: The Remarkable Twists and Turns of English Words by Paul Anthony Jones
Elliott & Thompson 9781783964383 pbk Jun 2019