Cryer unearths the real McCoy

February 27, 2014
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Curious English Words and Phrases, by Max Cryer (Exisle Publishing, RRP $30):

We have some odd little sayings in our Kiwi language but the origins of those phrases are often more odd than the saying themselves.

Max Cryer – language expert, Kiwi broadcasting stalwart, author and all- round clever bloke – has compiled a collection that offers explanations for the expressions we use.

To be honest, I’d never really thought about where the term ‘gets my goat’ came from and after reading this book the origin is still unclear (it’s one of those tricky ones), but I am relieved to report that it appears to have nothing to do with illicit goat shenanigans.

However, other phrases are clearly explained and even those that aren’t often have surprising stories: from the real McCoy to bald as a badger.

This is one of those books you will dip into from time to time and you will learn something new every time you do.

It will also be a great addition to your collection if you have any of Cryer’s earlier books, including Preposterous Proverbs and The Godzone Dictionary.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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