This is a lively and readable book about the history of words in the English language. It traces the growth of the great and wonderful Oxford English Dictionary which was 70 years in preparation under a succession of notable scholar-editors. There are some amusing stories about the first real English dictionary (not glossary, of which there had been many), ""prepared by the great curmudgeon, Samuel Johnson"". It points out the origins -- Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse, Dutch, Italian, Persian and many others -- reflected in our now enormous English vocabulary. Above all this stresses the liveliness of language. Almost any dictionary is outdated before it is published. New words arise- old ones take on new meaning. Although most of the material here is not new, it is brought together in a particularly pleasant way, sometimes serious, sometimes gay. Etymology as a school subject is rarely given; here is a kind of etymology that will spark interest in those uninitiated and appeal to all word-fans.