Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons: The Origins of English in Ten Words

Author(s): Paul Jones


What do the following ten words all have in common - haggard, mews, codger, arouse, musket, poltroon, gorge, allure, pounce and turn-tail? All fairly familiar and straightforward words, after a little digging into their histories it turns out that all of them derive from falconry: the adjective haggard described an adult falcon captured from the wild; mews were the enclosures hawks were kept in whilst moulting; codger is thought to come from 'cadger', the member of a hunting party who carried the birds' perches, and so on. This, essentially, is what Ten Words is all about - the book collects together hundreds of the most intriguing, surprising and little known histories and etymologies of a whole host of English words. From ancient place names to unusual languages, and obscure professions to military slang, this is a fascinating treasure trove of linguistic facts.


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An intriguing etymological tour through British history, cataloguing the varied roots of the English language.

Paul Jones previously authored The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer, a book on the origins of British place names. He is a journalist, magazine publisher and is currently studying at the Royal School of Music.

General Fields

  • : 9781472108067
  • : Constable and Robinson
  • : Constable
  • : September 2013
  • : 203mm X 138mm X 22mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : January 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Hardback
  • : Paul Jones
  • : 288
  • : 422