Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by Ebenezer Cobham BrewerVarious editions of this book are available online in digitized form. But that shouldnt stop you from getting your own physical copy. Nothing can rival the joy of browsing through it - youre bound to learn something fascinating along the way. As Terry Pratchett says in the Foreword, its a storehouse of little parcels of serendipitous information of a kind that are perhaps of no immediate use, but which are, nevertheless very good for the brain.
First published in 1870, Brewers has flourished for over a century. It has always been the reference book that reaches the parts others cannot, the option you try if what you are looking for is not in a standard dictionary or encyclopedia. Even if you dont find what youre looking for, chances are youll uncover something even more interesting. The fact that it has reached its 17th edition (published in 2005) suggests that it clearly meets a need, even if its exact scope can be hard to pin down precisely. Certainly, one need look no further with a question about ‘traditional’ myths and legends – from the Erymanthian boar to the Swan of Tuonela, from Aarvak and the Abbasids to zombies and Zoroastrians, they’re all covered. The latest edition updates the mythical pantheon to include such creatures as the Balrog and Nazgûl, Voldemort and Dumbledore, the Psammead and Zaphod Beeblebrox, to name only a few.
This edition incorporates many new features to tempt the reader -- a listing of idioms from Spanish, French, and German, first lines in fiction, assorted sayings attributed to Sam Goldwyn, curious place names in Great Britain and Ireland, the dogs, horses, and last words of various historical and fictional figures. So, while looking for information on freemasonry, you may find yourself diverted to learn that French people don’t dress to the nines – instead they put on their thirty-one, perhaps in preparation for a bout of window pane licking (window shopping). And if that femme fatale you met last night stands you up this evening, it may be that she has other cats to whip. Or it could be that she has received a messenger from Rome (who might be called Aunt Flo by an English speaker).
But as always, it’s the weird tidbits, stumbled across by sheer accident, that are the real delight. For instance, I could certainly have gotten through my entire life without knowing about the blue men of the Minch . But knowing that they are legendary beings who haunt the Minches (the channels separating the Outer Hebrides from the rest of Scotland), occasionally bothering sailors, enriches my life. The added information that they are either kelpies or fallen angels, and are reputed to drag mariners to the bottom of the sea if they fail to answer questions in rhyming couplets (in Gaelic, naturally), fills me with unutterable glee.
As do most of the entries in this terrific reference book.
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Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable 19th Edition
A short review of an unusual reference work. It sat on my desk for some time unopened beneath a pile of urgent work. Late this week, though, I finally got a chance to crack it for the odd browse. I'm glad I did. British readers may be familiar with one of its previous 18 editions. I was not. It's an odd book, and this new edition sets out explaining what it is not.
Much loved for its wit and wisdom since , Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable takes you on a captivating adventure through its trademark blend of language, culture, myth and legend. Nowhere else could the histories of the guillotine and Guinness stout sit so comfortably alongside the KGB and the Keystone Kops. Brewer's is a catalogue of curiosities and absurdities that, over almost years in print, has acquired near-mythical status. Edited by Susie Dent, this new edition includes a brand new Collection of Curious Words and many new and updated entries. Its pages brim with esoteric and entertaining oddities - everything from curious customs to the world of newspapers and political alliances of yesteryear - all seen through the distinctive Brewer lens. This twentieth edition of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable encapsulates all the charm and wit that characterise its predecessors and maintains the standards of scholarship and eclecticism that have long been its hallmark. Whether you're a committed Brewerphile or a newcomer to its pages of fascinating entries, this edition will draw you in and keep you glued to its rich mix of eccentric nuggets.
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It is, in fact, unlike any other reference book that exists, anywhere. Whether you are a committed Brewerphile or a newcomer to its pages of fascinating entries, this edition will draw you in and keep you glued to its rich mix of eccentric nuggets. Access to the complete content on Oxford Reference requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription. Please subscribe or login to access full text content. If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code. For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs , and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable , sometimes referred to simply as Brewer's , is a reference work containing definitions and explanations of many famous phrases , allusions , and figures, whether historical or mythical. The "Revised and Updated Edition" from the s is now in the public domain , and Web-based versions are available online. The most recent version is the 20th edition, published in November by Chambers Harrap Publishers. Originally published in by the Reverend E. Cobham Brewer , it was aimed at the growing number of people who did not have a university education, but wanted to understand the origins of phrases and historical or literary allusions. The 'phrase' part of the title refers mainly to the explanation of various idioms and proverbs, while the "fable" part might more accurately be labelled " folklore " and ranges from classical mythology to relatively recent literature. On top of this, Brewer added notes on important historical figures and events, and other things which he thought would be of interest, such as Roman numerals.