LEIGH FORBES: Books of all Sorts

The Etymologicon


by Mark Forsyth.

A lighthearted sprint through the etymology of a linked selection of words. I say sprint, because the end of each (very short) chapter leads you immediately on to the next, and it’s hard to put down.

I like the premise of this book, and the etymology is fascinating, but I found the presentation tiring; not just because of the lack of natural breaks, but because Forsyth’s humour seemed more and more wearing/contrived/snidey as it went on. I also spotted an absurd error, which made me wonder if there were more. (For reference, while the Earth does wobble on its axis [axial precession], the cycle is ~26,000 years, not six months! It’s the sun’s apparent movement across the celestial equator that varies the length of day/night over the year. A ridiculous mistake.)

I did enjoy the words though – they were brilliant – and although I would have loved an index, or a tabulated overview of the words discussed too, I enjoyed this book well enough.


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