'Nigel Rees should put a 'feather in his cap' for compiling this entertaining guide. It would make a wonderful gift for anyone who likes to dabble in our language's rich heritage - "just what the doctor ordered"!' Best of British 'A treasury of stimulating excursions and digressions' Guardian
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A complete guide to phrases in everyday life A Word in your Shell-Like will be the ideal replacement or complement to that tatty old copy of Brewer's most of us have about the house: a modern, entertaining guide to the wonderful world of phrases, familiar and unfamiliar, a landmark publication by one of the key world authorities in English language reference. It is an entirely phrase-based book, exploring well-known phrases -- catchphrases, slogans, idioms, cliches, nicknames, titles of books and films, and quotations. The articles will contain discussion of meaning, origin and usage. Sample entries include: 'but, miss -- you're beautiful without your glasses' 'I must go down to the seas again' 'small, but perfectly formed' 'sold down the river' 'abhors a vacuum' 'all dressed up and nowhere to go' 'and when did you last see your father?' 'Anglo-Saxon attitudes' 'another meal the Germans won't have' 'What did you do in the Great War, Daddy?'
'by Grand Central Station I sat down and wept' 'Burlington Bertie' Few other word reference books are likely to increase your store of knowledge with such fun: find out of whom it was said: 'he couldn't chew gum and fart at the same time', who the 'catcher in the rye' was, and what it means to be 'caught between wind and water'. in your shell?like (ear). Phrase used when asking to have a 'quiet word' with someone: '(Let me have a word) in your ear' is all it means, but it makes gentle fun of a poetic simile. Thomas Hood's Bianca's Dream (1827) has: 'Her small and shell-like ear'. The Complete Naff Guide (1983) has 'a word in your shell-like ear' among 'naff things schoolmasters say'.