The Story of English in 100 Words

David Crystal




Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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In this entertaining history world's most ubiquitous language, linguistics expert David Crystal draws on one hundred words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the word "roe" was written down on the bone ankle of a roe deer in the fifth century. Featuring ancient words (‘loaf'), cutting-edge terms that reflect our world (‘twittersphere'), indispensable words that shape our tongue ("and", "what"), and more fanciful words ("fopdoodle"), David Crystal takes readers on a tour of the winding byways of our language via the rude, the obscure, and the downright surprising.


Praise for The Story of English in 100 Words

"David Crystal promises to sketch a history of the English language that neglects neither forest (major trends in how languages develop) nor trees (specific, often highly amusing examinations of particular words) . . . He abundantly succeeds."—The Boston Globe

"A gem that sparkles with information about how English grows, changes, adopts, and plays . . . Snack-sized chapters with banquet-sized satisfaction."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"English speakers love nothing more than to steal words, dip their toes in idioms, verbify nouns, and adverbify verbs. The result is a delightfully mischievous language . . . By tracing the history of one hundred captivating words—some of them dirty—liguist David Crystal demonstrates the surprising twists English has taken."—Mental Floss Magazine

"The best word book to come down the pike in many a moon . . . Ingenious . . . David Crystal is a marvel."—Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman, authors of Origins of the Specious

Reviews from Goodreads



  • David Crystal

  • David Crystal is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. In 1995, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to the English language. He lives in the United Kingdom.

  • David Crystal Crystal Business Partnership