978-0-19-510692-3 / 019510692X

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About the book:

Language, wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, is fossil poetry. It is also fossil history, and when we examine the origins of words we learn a great deal about the people who coined and used them. In this fascinating compendium of American English words, lexicographers Stuart Berg Flexner and Anne Soukhanov examine, among other things, the language of prohibition and the Jazz Age, the origins of 19th-century words such as "undertaker" and "blizzard," and the enduring lingo of hippiedom. You'll also learn that the term "abolition" was originally applied to tax resistance against the English crown, and that the first known American folk song concerned a snakebite.

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