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Why You Say It: The Fascinating Stories Behind over 600 Everyday Words and Phrases

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  • Posted September 14, 2010

    Why You Say It

    Ever wanted to live the Life of Riley? Well it turns out that Mr. Reilly was a character from a song composed by Patrick Rooney in the late 1880's. In the song, the character was a daydreamer who didn't amount to much but imagined what he would do if he stuck it rich. Disregarding the spelling of his name, many people heard the song and wished they could step into this character's shoes. So, decades later the expression living the life of Riley is still in use. This is one example of the story behind 600 words and expressions we use everyday, from the book Why You Say It by Webb Garrison. If you love words or teach language arts, or enjoy trivia this book is packed with stories behind the words. Each chapter is divided into a category such as words from sports or business or the world of entertainment. This book would be a good addition to you reference bookshelf and after you have read some of the stories, you can chew the fat with some of your friends about why you say it! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted July 8, 2010

    Why You Say It by Webb Garrison

    I love words. When I came across an opportunity to get myself a copy of Why You Say It, I immediately took advantage of it. It helped that I was extremely attracted to the cover art.

    The basic premise of this book is that behind every word or phrase, there is a story. This book shares origins of various words and phrases, dividing them into sections such as "Names and Games" and "Money, Business and Commerce."

    Now, the question is-did I like this book? To a certain extent, I did. There were facts I found so interesting that I found myself sharing some with family members over dinner.

    My gripe about this book is that many words and phrases are not used in everyday conversations like the title denotes. In fact, there were quite a number of entries that I have never and probably will never encounter in my life.

    Why You Say It is not a book that you should read from cover to cover. It is interesting and informative, but is more ideal as reference material or for quick reads.

    ---
    I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of BookSneeze, a book review bloggers program. Find out more at BookSneeze.com! :)

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Great for Short Stints of Reading or For Use as Resource

    My thoughts:

    This was an intriguing book to read. It is not a book that one would sit down and read in its entirety. Nor is it one that you would read if you were interested in a good narrative. The actual backstories of the clichés discussed did not go into as much depth as I would have liked sometimes, but I am sure that is just me being picky

    However, this is a great book to learn some random trivial knowledge. It would be perfect for periods of time that you just needed to pass periods of time with a book, as you can easily stop anywhere in the book for a break. Whether it be in a waiting room, on a road trip, on an airplane, or some similar circumstance, this would be a great book to have available to occupy you in times of boredom.
    Summary:

    Although not the resource you would want if you are looking to escape into a world of fiction, this would be a great short stint read to gain insight into many phrases that we do not even think about when we say them. I will be giving this copy to my sister so she can use it with her junior high English class. I think it would be a great tool for some supplemental teaching.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2010

    Why You Say It by Webb Garrison

    I've just finished reading Why You Say It, by Webb Garrison. This is a book that takes commonly used expressions like, "keep a stiff upper lip," and gives their origin and meaning.
    I like the table of contents that divide more than 600 words or phrases into 19 easy to find categories. The author also uses each one in a sentence and explains the meaning of it as well as it's origin. This would make it an excellent choice for students or those new to the English language. Because our English language has borrowed from so many other languages, I wish these "originals" had been included. I also found that because I was familiar with most of the expressions, I enjoyed the story about how we've come to say them but found the additional information abit superfluous.
    I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted March 28, 2010

    Why You Say It By Webb Garrison

    Sometimes, Language can be very funny. Especially when you don't know what certain words or phrases mean.

    In reality, almost all of us use phrases such as 'touch base', 'loophole', 'goose bumps', 'behind the scenes' and many others without really knowing their meaning. Sometimes it just becomes a symbol as if there is no real story behind it.

    This book breaks this myth. Webb Garrison Provides all the interesting stories behind some everyday words and phrases we use. Once someone reads this book, their way of speaking will be much improved. First they will know the meaning / reason behind various phrases they speak, and second, we will remember, and use many other new phrases which we never heard or thought of using. This book really makes learning language a child's play, with wonderful stories.

    As a sample, what Lion's share means? Webb Garrison traces its root in an Aesop's fable. Here, a lion, along with few other animals goes for hunting. They all work together and kill a deer. Now, the lion divides its meat into four equal portions, and then takes three for himself, and suggests others divide the fourth. This is how the term 'Lion's share' came into our everyday English!

    Surprised? Go ahead and buy this book, I bet you can't stop reading until all the 600 and odd stories are completed!

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted March 25, 2010

    Why You Say It by Webb Garrison - not for the casual reader

    Thanks to the Thomas Nelson Bo0k Sneeze program, I was given a copy of Why You Say It by Webb Garrison to review.

    At first I was really stoked to read this book. It is a collection of all phrases such as barnstormer that make you wonder how on earth this term means what it does. Each entry goes into the background of a word or phrase to explain where it came from and sometimes its evolution over the years. Each description is about 2-3 paragraphs long, making each explanation short and sweet.

    I was so excited to get this in the mail. And then I started reading it. Or trying to read it. This is not a book to be read in one sitting. Unless you're very much into language and its origins, you will find this book boring and dry. There's really nothing wrong with it, it's just not up my alley (and no, that saying was not in this book, or I just didn't look hard enough).

    One thing that I didn't agree with - the organization of the book. There were 19 different sections, all pertaining to different areas: one dealt with sports (yep, I had to skip over a lot), one with the outdoors and one with "hip" sayings that we've never stopped using. I think a dictionary/encyclopedia arrangement would have worked better with this sort of book because of the "areas" seemed to veer away from their main subject or be a bit loosely defined. I remember thinking more than once, he made a whole topic out of that idea?

    I think this book is a bathroom book. It's fantastic in short bursts. It is also a good reference for amateur language enthusiasts. But it's not for the everyday reader to pick up and delve into, expecting to be mesmerized.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted March 23, 2010

    Interesting, but just "okay"

    This book was definitely a departure for me, since I have been on a novel binge lately, but it was an interesting read, to be sure. If you are also a novel-reader, this is definitely a different type of pace, but Garrison does his best to make it less like a dictionary or encyclopedia and more like a novel with his chapters. Garrison separates the stories behind the words and phrases into chapters like "The World of Entertainment," "The Great Outdoors," and "Making Fun of Others" (tee hee!).

    While at times I found myself skimming through some of the words or phrases I had never even heard of, and I definitely began skipping the first paragraph of every explanation (which was simply saying "Hey. Has anyone ever said this to you?"), some of the stories really were fascinating!

    For example, did you know that the word "limelight" (which I LOVE) came from the fact that the first spotlights were made by heating up LIMES? If facts like that make your day, or you are the kind of person who likes to share those little ditties with others at parties or staff meetings, then this book is for you!

    While it is not my favorite book, it was a good read, so I give it a solid C rating.

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  • Posted March 23, 2010

    Why You Say It

    I have been reading Why You Say It by Webb Garrison. Subtitled: The Fascinating Stories Behind Over 600 Everyday Words and Phrases, this book tries to explain some of our more common English colloquialisms.
    The author has researched the 600 entries (the bibliography is extensive) and come up with some logical and some not so logical reasons as to why we say what we say.
    This is not a book to be read through in one sitting. I have the copy on my nightstand for reading a little at a time.
    I have chuckled at some of the entries, but mostly have not been too impressed by the blurbs. There are better, more comprehensive books on the same subject. I think a trip to the library would bear this out.
    Overall, this is a good book for casual reading; if you do not want to get immersed in more detailed explanations of the phrases found in the book.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    Not as fun of a read as I thought it would be

    On with the review! OK so this book was given to me to review through Book Sneeze (link on the right of this post, scroll down a bit). I will tell you that pretty much the only reason I got this book was because of the rubber ducks. And stupid random information I may or may not ever need. I will say that I was just "meh" on the book. If you like to read things that are educational/informational this is for you. If you prefer to read things in novel format, this is not for you. I prefer novel and I don't really like learning late at night since I primarily read before bed so I had a tough time getting through this. BUT this is kind of a fun book to have on a table during a party or whatever. Or if you are one of those that likes to read while pooping, this would be good to have.

    The book tells you why we say things such as "moron" "two way street" "lock, stock, and barrel", "ax to grind" etc. Some of them are funny, some are bizarre, and some make no sense to me. Here's an example:

    Go Bananas: What makes a person who is normally calm and quiet suddenly "go bananas"? Why do we specify this fruit instead of Granny Smith apples or Bosc pears? No one knows exactly why a person will go wacko in a given situation. But there's a good reason for saying that anyone temporarily out of control has gone bananas. Actions of such a person are a lot like that of a caged monkey in a zoo. The sight of a keeper approaching with a bunch of bananas can make the animal freak out, or go bananas.

    Do you feel smarter by reading that? I don't but at least if someone says it I can blurt out this paragraph and sound smart. SCORE.

    On a scale I would give this 2 out of 5 stars. Not something I'd see at Barnes and Noble and be like, "'WOW-- I have to have this" but it was mildly entertaining.

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  • Posted March 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Why You Say It

    This book explains why certain words and phrases are used the way they are. I was very excited to get it because I love knowing things like that.

    It's a little disappointing because I felt like some of the words here aren't really in the common vernacular anymore (who says "high muckety-muck", for example) but it's still a very good resource.

    And it's full of little tidbits that I can annoy people with.

    For instance, did you know Charles M. Schulz was the guy who first used security blanket? And isn't that perfect, given that Linus is the perfect example of someone who has one?

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Why You say it

    This Non-Fiction book was very interesting and even humourous at times! I leaned alot from it like the stories behind words such as Blockbuster, Bombshell, Bikini and many other words. I liked how this book (even though it was very long) was easy to read and understand and I also liked how the book was split into chapters like Entertainment, Sports, names, etc. Also I liked this book alot because you did not just learn the stories behind words you also learned stories behind some pharases as well. There were also many words or pharses in the book that I had never even heard of but that was another cool thing about this book it was something different for me to read. Normaly I do not read much Non-Fiction but this book was an exeption that I really enjoyed and I would recomend it to anyone and everyone expecially if you just like to read, learn the stories behind words and sayings, or read something really funny and different. It was just a good, fun, and different book thiat I really liked alot and felt that it was worth my time reading and I learned some really cool stuff from it.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Fun Facts For All!

    I am spending some time reading my new book. Why You Say It {The Fascinating Stories Behind Over 600 Everyday Words and Phrases}. This is a much different read than my usual snarky romantic novels. I like it because I can pick it up and put it down without missing a beat. Have 3 minutes to wait in the car line? You can read up on a few phrases. I have been very entertained learning about phrases that I use everyday. Why do we say goosebumps, ducks in a row, or up to snuff? You would be surprised to learn how these words/phrases found their way into our everyday language.

    My favorite fact that I learned is that the word Hot Dog actually is named after the dachshund! Yes, that's right, because the original frankfurter resembles the shape of my beloved pet - it soon became universally called a hot dog. I thought it was the other way around. You know, the dog looks like the hot dog.so people started calling dachshunds hot dogs. I was happy to learn that it was the other way around! My dog is so proud to have helped name a popular food :)

    This would be a great gift for Father's Day - my father-in-law loves interesting facts.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Book Sneeze Review: Why You Say It by Webb Garrison

    Have you every wondered why we say certain phrases or words when we don't even know what they mean? Well Webb Garrison's book Why You Say It is your answer. This book is full of 600 commonly used words and phrases and a little bit of the history about how they came to be. This book is one that a person can use over and over again without actually reading through the entire book.

    So at first look, I liked the book. I have always been curious as to why we say certain words and phrases and the history behind them. In theory I like this book. But there are a few things that I do not like. For example, as much as the concept is good, I feel that the definitions of why the words or phrases are used are lacking. They jump to conclusions that you know what certain words already mean and then they barely explain why the word came to be. I also did not like the set up of the book. I wanted more of a dictionary style book when this book is set up like a novel with dictionary parts...very odd to me. Overall, as I had said before, the concept is good...but the book in the way it currently is does not fit the expectations I had for it. I do think this book is good for curious children and pre-teens, but I feel that anyone above those age group will be disappointed.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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