Wordgloss: A Cultural Lexicon
‘Wordgloss is a vast grid of knowledge and information, as dense as chain mail and as intricate as a spiderweb. It is wide-ranging, erudite, accommodating and witty … a real reference work that will carry the reader far beyond the dictionary.’ – John Banville
Words and phrases are the common currency of our lives. We use them, exchange them, discard them, drawing on a wordhoard accumulated over thousands of years. But often we use them carelessly. What exactly do we mean, for example, when we refer to a draconian measure, an apocryphal story or laisser-faire policies?
One of the great cultural losses of our time is the virtual abandonment of Latin and Greek. Wordgloss restores these classical references that our education no longer provides. It is full of the words and concepts you always meant to look up, telling you where they came from and how they acquired the meanings they now have.
First published to acclaim in 1990, this lively and engaging reference book has been extensively reworked and extended. Through its mini-essays, it explores categories that embrace law, politics, science, technology, literature, philosophy and the arts, illuminating each with its store of wisdom.
Wordgloss is for everyone – expert and amateur, journalist and politician, civil servant and speechwriter, teacher and student, writer and reader. It is a treasure-trove that will intrigue, delight and enrich, and it belongs on every desk, library shelf and bedside table.
JIM O’DONNELL has spent his career publishing books and writing them – the Administration Yearbook & Diary, which he originated, is an indispensable reference work for all those managing Ireland’s government and business. He was assistant general director of the Institute of Public Administration when he retired in 1999. He is the author of How Ireland is Governed (1968) and Wordplay (1992). He is currently secretary to the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution.