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The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins
ISBN 0816032661 / 9780816032662 / 0-8160-3266-1
Publisher Facts on File
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More than 15,000 entriesover 2,000 of which are new to this editionprovide information and anecdotes on the origin and development of a wide range of words and phrases, including:
Fellini named the hyperactive photographer in La Dolce Vita Signor Paparazzo, after the Italian slang for mosquito, which lead to the popularity of the term, paparazzi.
Argentina takes its name from the Latin argentum meaning silver. Legend says that llamas grazing on Mount Posi in 1545 uprooted some shrubbery, beneath which was a vein of silver ore.
Conjurer's assistants in the 17th century would eat toads so the magicians could demonstrate their miraculous healing powers. The assistants came to be known as "toad eaters," which became our modern insult, "toady." [via]