What is the true origin of the phrase 'one fell swoop'? Does the word 'honeymoon' really derive from an old Persian custom of giving the happy couple mead, a honey wine, for the first month after the wedding?
The rapid growth of the internet and the use of email has increased the circulation of (usually) false tales about the evolution of language. In this entertaining and fascinating new book on the origins of words and expressions, Michael Quinion retells the mythic tales that have become popular currency - the word 'posh' deriving from 'port out, starboard home' - and also tries to find and explain the true stories behind the origins of phrases. Quinion offers explanations of why and how stories about words are created, and how misunderstanding word origins - while usually harmless - can have serious consequences.