Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson

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Synopsis

One of the English language’s most skilled and beloved writers guides us all toward precise, mistake-free usage.

As usual Bill Bryson says it best: “English is a dazzlingly idiosyncratic tongue, full of quirks and irregularities that often seem willfully at odds with logic and common sense. This is a language where ‘cleave’ can mean to cut in half or to hold two halves together; where the simple word ‘set’ has 126 different meanings as a verb, 58 as a noun, and 10 as a participial adjective; where if you can run fast you are moving swiftly, but if you are stuck fast you are not moving at all; [and] where ‘colonel,’ ‘freight,’ ‘once,’ and ‘ache’ are strikingly at odds with their spellings.” As a copy editor for the London Times in the early 1980s, Bill Bryson felt keenly the lack of an easy-to-consult, authoritative guide to avoiding the traps and snares in English, and so he brashly suggested to a publisher that he should write one. Surprisingly, the proposition was accepted, and for “a sum of money carefully gauged not to cause embarrassment or feelings of overworth,” he proceeded to write that book–his first, inaugurating his stellar career.

Now, a decade and a half later, revised, updated, and thoroughly (but not overly) Americanized, it has become Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, more than ever an essential guide to the wonderfully disordered thing that is the English language. With some one thousand entries, from “a, an” to “zoom,” that feature real-world examples of questionable usage from an international array of publications, and with a helpful glossary and guide to pronunciation, this precise, prescriptive, and–because it is written by Bill Bryson–often witty book belongs on the desk of every person who cares enough about the language not to maul or misuse or distort it.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Bill Bryson

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BILL BRYSON's best-selling books include A Walk in the Woods, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, In a Sunburned Country, A Short History of Nearly Everything (which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize), The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and At Home. He lives in England with his wife and children.































Author Residence: Norfolk, England































Author Hometown: Des Moines, IA
 
Published September 17, 2002 by Broadway Books. 256 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words

Publishers Weekly

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Bestselling author Bryson's latest book is really his first: this guide to usage, spelling and grammar was first published in 1983 when Bryson (In a Sunburned Country</E

Jun 03 2002 | Read Full Review of Bryson's Dictionary of Troubl...

Publishers Weekly

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Wrote PW: ""Bryson shares what he loves best about the idiosyncrasies of everyday English life in this immensely entertaining travel memoir."" (May)

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Publishers Weekly

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Bryson offers a playfully anecdotal account of the etymology of distinctive words and phrases that help to create a distinctly American English.

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Publishers Weekly

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``He retells old tales with fresh verve .

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Publishers Weekly

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Bryson's curiosity serves him well, as he delves into subjects as diverse as the reliability of the extant images of Shakespeare, a brief history of the theater in England and the continuing debates about whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon really wrote Shakespeare's works.

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His unrelenting insistence that Australia is the most dangerous place on earth (""If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy dea...

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Publishers Weekly

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Bestselling author Bryson's latest book is really his first: this guide to usage, spelling and grammar was first published in 1983 when Bryson (In a Sunburned Country</E

Jun 03 2002 | Read Full Review of Bryson's Dictionary of Troubl...

Book Reporter

flaunts --- or is it flouts --- its unorthodoxy.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Bryson's Dictionary of Troubl...

Oregon Live

In "At Home: A Short History of Private Life," Bill Bryson takes the layout of his home and for each room constructs a chapter crowded with historical curiosities loosely related to living in houses.

Oct 23 2010 | Read Full Review of Bryson's Dictionary of Troubl...

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