Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 02:26:54 -0400
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Henrickson's "revised" ENCYCLOPEDIA review; P.O.T.U.S. or P.U.S.?
THE FACTS ON FILE ENCYCLOPEDIA
OF WORD AND PHRASE ORIGINS,
REVISED AND EXPANDED EDITION
by Robert Hendrickson
1997 ed. (previously issued in 1987 as THE HENRY HOLT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORD
AND PHRASE ORIGINS)
754 pages with index (prior edition was 581 pages without an index)
For those who don't want to wade through or can't afford DARE, RHHDAS,
and OED, this is an alternative that schoolchildren and nonscholarly
libraries will turn to.
It's not very good.
Sadly, it will be a primary source for many people. It will perpetuate a
great deal of misinformation for a long time.
The first edition ("'A feast for phrase detectives...that will enliven
debates and illuminate issues.'--William Safire" graces the cover) contained
errors in nearly every entry. To my eyes in a quick reading, it still sucks.
The original preface: "Scholars like Professor Gerald Cohen of the
University of Missouri-Rolla devote years and pages enough for a book in
scientifically tracking down the origins of a single word, but a great number
of the word derivations on record amount to little more than educated
The added preface: "...has about 25 percent completely new material and
now covers some 15,000 word and phrase origins, roughly triple the greatest
number in any previous collection of its kind."
With prefaces like these, how is it that ALL of my work and nearly all of
Professor Cohen's work is NOT here??
Take three entries, for example--although I could continue all day:
"CANUCK. _Canuck_ as a derogatory name for a French Canadian has been
around since about 1865, with both Canadians and Americans using it." 1865??
Even the worst dictionary can give a better date than this!
"PAPARAZZI. (...) Fellini had known a boy nicknamed Paparazzo (Mosquito)
during his school days...." Fellini admitted, in an interview, that he got
the name from a name in a George Gissing book.
"HOT DOG. According to concessionaire Harry Stevens, who first served
grilled franks on a split roll in about 1900, the franks were dubbed hot dogs
by that prolific word inventor sports cartoonist T. A. Dorgan after he
This is a feast for phrase detectives??