Words are the building blocks of language, but their derivations are often stories in themselves. Have you ever wondered why we wear perfume, read magazines, vote for candidates, speak in jargon? Sometimes the origin of a word can be pinpointed with great accuracy - sputnik entered the English language (and many other languages around the world) on the day the Russian spacecraft was launched in 1957. Others are vaguer - butterfly goes back at least a thousand years and, sadly, there is no evidence that the creature was ever called a flutterby. With entries from assassin to villain, bankrupt to sterling, cigar to tobacco, Linda and Roger Flavell explain the origins of 300 commonly used words.
Linda Flavell holds a degree in modern languages and qualifications in primary and secondary teaching. Roger Flavell's Master's thesis was on the nature of idiomaticity, and his doctorate on idioms and their teaching in several European languages. He has recently retired from the University of London Institute of Education, where he was head of the department of English for Speakers of Other Languages. Their other books for Kyle Cathie are The Chronology of Words and Phrases, Dictionary of Idioms and Dictionary of Proverbs, which is being reissued at the same time as Dictionary of Word Origins.