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Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
Second Edition

Knowles, Elizabeth (ed.)
Publisher:  Oxford University Press
Year Published:  2005   First Published:  2000
Pages:  805pp   Price:  $50   ISBN:  0-19-860981-7

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The first edition was published in 2000. These entries tell the story behind words, names and sayings. The range is from short definitions to more detailed accounts; phrases are likely to be found subsumed under the main word. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable was the first handbook of its type. Under "Golden Gate", Brewer says that it was the name given by Sir Francis Drake to the strait connecting San Francisco Bay with the Pacific. San Francisco was called "The City of the Golden Gate". Oxford merely says that it is a deep channel spanned by the Golden Gate suspension bridge completed in 1937, with no mention of Drake. Brewer's includes "soot suit"; Oxford does not. Brewer's has many more pages, and even a specific 20th century edition. This second edition has trimmed back on biographical entries; it has also extended coverage of the meaning and origins of figurative language. Politics and science are the now the main source of modern words. Words have been drawn from Oxford's amazing database of word resources.

* Audience or interest level: librarians and wordsmiths, news libraries.
* Some interesting facts: "The key purpose of the book is to provide the means whereby a reader can understand the full significance of a name or phrase, or decode as chance-met allusion or reference"
* What I don't like about this resource (its shortcomings): there is less explanation than in Brewer's. Anyway, you can always use Google and the Internet to find more material.
* What I do like about this resource (its positives): large typeface, good "see" and "see also" referencing.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 84

[Review by Dean Tudor]

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