The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Front Cover
Elizabeth M. Knowles
Oxford University Press, 2000 - Reference - 1223 pages
Here is a wealth of background information on common phrases and allusions, encompassing everything from "rebel without a cause" and "Marlboro Man" to "The Twelve Labors of Hercules."
Drawing on Oxford's unrivalled bank of language and quotation on-line resources, this highly browsable potpourri of allusive terms includes entries from a broad range of topics, including classical mythology, history, religion, folk customs, superstitions, science and technology, philosophy, and popular culture. Unlike the major competing volume, the Dictionary contains more entries, with a wider range of reference and more lucid explanations. Indeed, the 20,000 entries are rich with information, going beyond a simple identification to include colorful details, such as word origins and illustrative quotations. We learn, for instance, not only that "The Land of the Rising Sun" refers to Japan, but also that the phrase is a translation of Japanese Nippon (nichi "the sun" and pon "the source"). We also learn that "Leatherneck" refers to the leather lining inside the collar of a marine's uniform. There are special boxes for topics such as Days of the Week and Last Words (from Goethe's "More light" to Robert E. Lee's "Strike the tent"). The volume also features thousands of brief biographies, both real and fictional, from Old Mother Hubbard to Gypsy Rose Lee, and a thematic index for easy use. And there are numerous cross-references throughout the book.
From "Barbie Doll" to "the Big Bang Theory," "Every Dog has His Day," and "Seven-League Boots," The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is a kaleidoscopic reference work on the thousands of colorful words and phrases we use every day.

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The Oxford dictionary of phrase and fable

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Fables and commonplace phrases originate from the need to articulate concepts and circumstances that defy conventional phraseology. Evolving from both written and spoken sources (though more commonly ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)


Elizabeth Knowles is Managing Editor of the Oxford Ruotations Dictionaries. She is also the editor of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and The Oxford Dictionary of New Words, among other works.

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