'Hitchings's excavations are a treat. He presents the best gleanings of academia in a winning, conversational style. Almost every spadeful yields an etymological nugget . . . elegantly and entertainingly written'
'A fascinating exploration of the rich borrowings, exchanges and couplings of the language'
'Hitchings has teased out the stories lurking behind the language to provide a most satisfying whole'
'Much more than a collage of etymological trivia, this is a dense and thorough excavation of the stories that lie behind the words we say'
'Quite how Hitchings has managed to wrestle this dizzying mountain of dense information into such an elegant narrative . . . is a feat almost as admirable as that of the great lexicographer. His book is painstakingly detailed, closely argued and suffused with a contagious enthusiasm for the secrets woven into the fabric of our words
'Filled with fascinating nuggets'