978-0-375-70584-7 / 9780375705847

Random House Dictionary of America's Popular Proverbs and Sayings: Second Edition


Publisher:Random House Reference



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About the book:

"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" is how the Random House Dictionary of America's Popular Proverbs and Sayings begins, but it means no harm. It just wants you to understand where this phrase comes from and what it actually denotes ("give up all hope, you that enter Hell," in this case, from Dante's Divine Comedy). The entry then explains the context for the quote, and lists various other literary examples and derivatives, such as Kurt Vonnegut's "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Don't Wear Green Shirts!" And so it goes for the other 1600 phrases and their 10,000 examples, covering centuries of proverbs and usage.

The dictionary is handily organised in alphabetical format, so you can look up "Pyrrhic victory" when you come across it in your readings and once again can't remember what it means. Likewise, when you're writing about caution and vaguely recall that there's some appropriate phrase about cats, you can flip open to the Cs and find "The cat in gloves catches no mice."

What other advantages are there to this proverb reference? It's a remarkable elucidator of American idiom for people learning English, it's a fine source of evocative phrases for students, journalists and speech-writers, and etymology enthusiasts can check out the origins of "enough is enough" and "even a worm will turn". Furthermore, this volume is unsurpassable as a browser. While stuck on hold with the phone company, or waiting nervously for your blind date to arrive, you can fill the odd idle moments with the wisdom of the ages. "Give me your tired, your poor," said Emma Lazarus. "Give me where to stand, and I will move the earth," said Archimedes. "Give him enough rope and he'll hang himself," said Thomas Fuller. Or "Give me a break!" as said by just about everyone. If "wisdom is better than rubies", and "knowledge is power", then the Random House Dictionary of America's Popular Proverbs and Sayings is priceless. --Stephanie Gold,

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