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

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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 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 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

    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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