'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
This is a modern and entertaining guide to the wonderful world of phrases, familiar and unfamiliar. "A Word in your Shell-Like" is 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 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', and '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'.