We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
The Etymologicon Audiobook
The Etymologicon
Written by: 
Mark Forsyth
Narrated by: 
Don Hagen
The Etymologicon Audiobook

The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language

Regular Price:$19.59
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

Do you know why…

a mortgage is literally a death pledge? …why guns have girls’ names? …why salt is related to soldier?

You’re about to find out…

The Etymologicon (e-t?-‘mä-lä-ji-kän) is:

*Witty (wi-te\): Full of clever humor

*Erudite (er-?-dit): Showing knowledge

*Ribald (ri-b?ld): Crude, offensive

The Etymologicon is a completely unauthorized guide to the strange underpinnings of the English language. It explains: How you get from “gruntled” to “disgruntled”; why you are absolutely right to believe that your meager salary barely covers “money for salt”; how the biggest chain of coffee shops in the world (hint: Seattle) connects to whaling in Nantucket; and what precisely the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2012 Mark Forsyth (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC

What the Critics Say

“The stocking filler of the season...how else to describe a book that explains the connection between Dom Perignon and Mein Kampf.” (The Observer)

“Crikey...this is addictive!” (The Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (1025 )
5 star
 (616)
4 star
 (284)
3 star
 (97)
2 star
 (16)
1 star
 (12)
Overall
4.5 (932 )
5 star
 (575)
4 star
 (250)
3 star
 (85)
2 star
 (13)
1 star
 (9)
Story
4.5 (947 )
5 star
 (630)
4 star
 (226)
3 star
 (73)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (7)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY 12-21-15
    Dubi New York, NY 12-21-15

    People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    537
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    218
    217
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    18
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Why settle for the whole nine yards..."

    ... when everyone knows it takes ten yards to make a first down?

    Did you know the word oxymoron is itself an oxymoron? That turkeys are indeed named after the country Turkey (because they were mistaken for Guinea fowl, who do not actually come from Guinea)? That a rolling stone is really a gardening tool that must be kept free of moss (something Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger must no have known)? That feisty came to mean combative because old ladies blamed their flatulence on their lapdogs? That the fierce battlefield tank was so named by Winston Churchill because its original name was too close to a toilet?

    Well, if you love words, if you love the English language in all of its robust idiosyncratic glory, if you love to have fun with language, if you want to impress your next cocktail party, win at Trivial Pursuit, or get some extra points when you go on Jeopardy, you'll love Mark Forsyth's answers to these and many other etymological curiosities.

    Just to be clear, this Etymologicon is not interested in classroom word roots, nothing as mundane as basic Latin or Greek sources of common words. No, this is how some unusual words or phrases came into being, how some common words evolved from strange roots, and how so many of them are remarkably and improbably interconnected.

    Among my favorites in the latter category are contemporary technologies or brand names emerging from unlikely sources -- how one 11th century Danish queen and her consort gave us the word gun and the brand name Bluetooth, how an anonymous Viking in olde England led to the brand name Starbucks, how bugs came to be in computer software (not to mention beds), how Henry the VIII's oversize codpiece still resides on every computer keyboard not once but twice.

    What makes it work is the humorous delivery. Some reviewers found the humor not to their liking. I found it an appropriate vehicle for making this book more lively than the kind of dry scholarly material you might expect. The author is no Monty Python (whom he references), some of his punch lines are groaners, but most of his stories are absolutely fascinating.

    But sadly, he has no explanation for the whole nine yards (he does not even attempt one), as it remains one of the mysteries of the American idiom, a term for which there is no known etymology.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James United States 01-05-16
    James United States 01-05-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Maddening! Does not work as an audiobook!"

    I imagine this as the kind of book I'd like to have in the bathroom. Short entries on the origins of words. And I wanted to see the words. See how they are put together. Pay attention to their spelling. Their prefixes. Their suffixes. So much of etymology depends on this. Therefore, it just doesn't work as an audiobook. And while this is a minor point, the author is clearly British. You can tell by many of his references and his overall sense of humor. So why not have a British narrator? There were interesting entries, but as a book (especially an audiobook ) it drove me up the wall.

    22 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 12-19-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    80
    25
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fun"

    Very clever. The book is disjointed, intentionally so, not being chronological or broken down by source language, yet is entertaining.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna M 12-04-14
    Donna M 12-04-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    104
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One of my all time favorite books."
    Would you listen to The Etymologicon again? Why?

    I listen to this book over and over as one would do with a favorite song. I love words, and the fabric this book weaves is fantastic.


    22 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Columbia, MO, USA 07-15-15
    Pamela Columbia, MO, USA 07-15-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    113
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Perfect Book for a Word Nerd!!"

    I loved this book! ...every nerdy word!! I've always been fascinated by our language and how it came to be, and this book answered so many of my questions. Who would have ever thought the word (office) "pool" originated with the French word for "chicken?" Now I know along with the answers to how a hundred others words came to be!

    19 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 12-14-15
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 12-14-15 Member Since 2016

    SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2432
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    161
    161
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    249
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Talking Turkey: Learn Where THAT Comes From..."

    Where are your hands when you swear? Did you know "gonads" flows into the "Testaments" both Old and New as testifying is based on "testes"?
    Seriously.
    This is a really, really fun book, but Forsyth isn't kidding when he says it's "A CIRCULAR Stroll." Sometimes it's so circular you forget where you started because where you end up is entirely different. Still, it's a damned fun ride getting there if you're even remotely curious about words.
    Hell, not even. It's just funnier 'n all get out.
    How about: The partridge gets its name from the fart because it sounds like farting when it flies (or: a "clapping of the buttocks!")
    A lengthy section on how to make sheepskin paper, how in the end, after all is said and done, we're left with the shape and size that the kindle is forced to mimic 'cause we're just so damned used to it (ol' Gutenberg used it after all. Well, not the kindle size...?)
    After doing a lively business of selling seashells and trinkets, Shell decided to, oh, I dunno, dabble in, petroleum.
    This is an enjoyable and lively listen that really makes you think.
    Don't expect to zone out. DO expect to laugh

    18 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    khaledalyami001 Danabuckmir001 04-26-15
    khaledalyami001 Danabuckmir001 04-26-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great and interesting read that keeps you engaged"

    this is one of the best books i have ever listened to as it is very informative and full with linguistic knowledge ..

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bookouri 01-07-16
    bookouri 01-07-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    73
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    428
    48
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A fun book in small doses"
    Any additional comments?

    I should have really enjoyed this book. I have always been fascinated by words and languages and this book has that. However, I did not enjoy the presentation of the materials the way this book was written. The book is presented as a kind of "stream of consciousness." It is a rapid fire "flit" and "flutter" roller coaster ride from word to word to word. I would have enjoyed it much more if it had been more organized, and the author had spent more time in discussion of things in more depth rather than blasting through so much so quickly. For me, this is the kind of book I would sit down with on a day when I don't want to put a lot of thought into anything but just want something fun going on in the background. This is a good book for a 15 minute break, but I could not set out on a long drive and listen to this one from start to finish.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sans CA USA 09-17-15
    sans CA USA 09-17-15 Member Since 2014

    z

    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Funny"

    Interesting book- the author does a good job of entertaining the reader. Very funny! Will try another of his books.

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Phoenix, AZ, United States 05-24-16
    Joe Phoenix, AZ, United States 05-24-16 Member Since 2010

    Programmer, Reader, Gamer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    120
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More Fun than Pumpernickel"

    This book was one wild ride. Very rapid-fire, so sometimes hard to follow, but in a good way. I had lots of "hmm...interesting"s, a few "wow!"s, and even more laughs.

    These stories of the origin of words are brief, fun, and easy to remember. So my poor co-workers have had to put up with me retelling stories of the origins of words and phrases like pumpernickel (devils fart), "a stone's throw" (poor chicken!), avocado, and buff.

    If you like words, I definitely recommend this book. If you don't...I might be able to recommend some self-help books you might enjoy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.