Monday, December 12th, 2011
The English Wordsmith is a collection of 8,000 words and expressions perhaps heard of but not quite understood

Grog-blossom, niveous and wattle could be useful words at Christmas time describing as they do redness of the nose or face from excessive drinking, snowy and the loose skin hanging from the throat of a turkey.

For lovers of the mot juste, these and other gems are in The English Wordsmith, a book of 8,000 interesting words collected and succinctly defined by lawyer and bon vivant David Andrews.

Whenever he found a word or phrase he liked, but didn’t quite understand, he jotted it down. He called the collection a ‘lexical eclecsis’; lexical meaning to do with words, eclecsis meaning a compilation from various sources.

Definitions from aa to zymurgy are laid out clearly, creating a tubby tome of 592 pages that makes a useful and entertaining Christmas present. Chosen words span the common, the not-so common and Latin, French and German imports. Explanations include the correct context for frequently misused words such as masterful and masterly, continual and continuous, suppositious and supposititious.

Words and definitions extend to specialist subject areas such as philosophies, religions, peoples, artists, myths, animals, plants, food, drink and the law.

‘Bells and smells’ might be a useful phrase to wrap up part of the Christmas scene. According to the book, it refers to the ‘High Church wing of the Church of England’. Tintinnabulation has a festive ring about it too. It means the tinkering sound of bells.

David Andrews was an eminent lawyer who wrote several authoritative challenging works, dealing with complex legal issues. The English Wordsmith was completed shortly before his death in 2010.

The English Wordsmith is for anyone who loves finding useful words, for amusement, for learning, for excelling at word games, for enriching everyday language. It is published by The Great Wordsmith LLP and is available in paperback from good bookshops,

ISBN 978-0-9567364-0-6.

Kindle (Amazon). 978-0-9567364-1-3.

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