An Odyssey into the World of Weird and Wonderful Words
The world's preeminent mythology scholar explores the mystery and meaning of marvelous words
Who knew that the great country of Canada is named for a mistake? How about "bedswerver," the best Elizabethan insult to hurl at a cheating boyfriend? Author Phil Cousineau explores the obscure territory of word origins with great erudition and endearing curiosity. The English poet W. H. Auden was once asked to teach a poetry class for 20 students. Two hundred applied to study with him. When asked how he chose his students, he said he picked the ones who actually loved words. So too, with this book—it takes a special wordcatcher to create a treasure chest of remarkable words and their origins, and any word lover will relish the stories that Cousineau has discovered.
"Phil Cousineau is a word wizard and his book, Wordcatcher, is a delightful adventure into a magical world. As I read his amazing etymological explanations of words from eldritch to floccinaucinhilipilification to langiappe, I begin to understand why the Bible says 'In the beginning was the Word.' Phil has made clear that words don't merely describe reality. They create it." —Deepak Chopra, author of The Ultimate Happiness Prescription
"Stake out a claim next to the standard dictionary you use for this less pedantic companion. It contains fewers words but sends up Fourth of July skyrockets on all of them. But caveat emptor, readers beware! Cousineau's love affair with words is contagious and you are likely to end up lovesick with words yourself." —Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions and Tales of Wonder
"A book that allows us to remember the genius of language—to see, feel and, it seems, even 'taste' the living-ness and poetry hidden within these many common and uncommon words. A delicious book." —Jacob Needleman, author of What Is God?
"I am awed by Phil Cousineau's scholarship and the overall view he has of inner matters. He has a genius for the soulful dimensions of words, and a rare intelligence for communicating the numinous dimension of language. Wordcatcher will grace the lives of all who read it, and inspire them to respect, even revere words as much as its author does." —Robert A. Johnson, author of He, She, and Slender Threads.
"Phil Cousineau's Wordcatcher is a wonderful meditation on words that can be read from beginning to end if you are obsessed with speech, greedy for mountain air, and into enlightened verbal play. Not a dry lexical listing, each word Cousineau chooses sings with cellos, vagabonds through tongues and history, and bounces like a balloon on the moon, and as high as his quirky imagination takes us. Compelled reading for residence in the ancient synagogue of the word." —Willis Barnstone, author of The Restored New Testament and Ancient Greek Lyrics
PHIL COUSINEAU is an award-winning writer and filmmaker, teacher and editor, independent scholar and travel leader, storyteller and TV host. His fascination with art, literature, and the history of culture has taken him from Michigan to Marrakesh, Iceland to the Amazon, in a worldwide search for what the ancients called the “soul of the world.”
Also by Phil Cousineau