The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones

Cabinet of linguistic curiosities

I had been coveting The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities: A Yearbook of Forgotten Words by Paul Anthony Jones so when a copy arrived on my door mat I was thrilled and I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations today. Not only do I have my review, but I have today’s entry so that you can get a flavour of the book.

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities was published by Elliott and Thompson on 19th October 2017 and is available for purchase here.

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities

Cabinet of linguistic curiosities

Who knows where each day will lead you?

Open The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities on any day of the year: you might leap back in time, learn about linguistic trivia, follow a curious thread or wonder at the web of connections brought to you by popular language blogger Paul Anthony Jones.

Within its pages you will discover a treasure trove of language, with etymological quirks and connections for every day of the year.

Today’s Entry in The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities

22 October

brolly-hop (n.) a parachute jump

On 22 October 1797, a French balloonist and daredevil named André-Jacques Garnerin performed the world’s first successful parachute jump.

Floating in a gondola hanging beneath a hot air balloon, Garnerin climbed to a height of 3,000 feet above the Parc Monceau in central Paris. He then cut the ties attaching his basket to the balloon, which floated skyward, and as he and the gondola began their descent, his homemade 23-foot canvas parachute unfurled above him. The descent was far from smooth, and the basket swung violently as it fell, but Garnerin managed to make a bumpy but nevertheless successful landing in the grounds of the park and stepped from the gondola uninjured.

Over the years that followed, Garnerin continued to improve his hot air balloon parachute designs, and gave regular demonstrations of his prototypes to ever larger crowds; in 1798, he courted controversy by asking a woman named Citoyenne Henri to accompany him on one of his flights.

Sadly, after a lifetime of surviving perilous falls, in 1823 Garnerin was struck by a falling beam while constructing a new balloon in his workshop and was killed. His place in history as the world’s first successful parachutist, however, was secured.

To British Royal Air Force parachutists in the first half of the twentieth century, parachuting became known as brollyhopping, while a brolly-hop was a parachute jump. First recorded in 1932, the term – alluding to the umbrella-like canopy of the parachute – grew in popularity during the Second World War but had largely disappeared by the 1950s.

My Review of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities

With an entry for every day of the year, The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities takes the reader across centuries and continents as long forgotten terms are brought back to life.

Now here’s the thing. I never do this, but I’m actually going to review a book I haven’t actually completely read!

When I got my copy of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities I dashed straight to my birthday where I discovered ‘crack-halter, a ‘gallows-bird’, someone liable one day to be hanged; a habitual troublemaker‘. Hmm! I then looked at my wedding anniversary to find ‘escarmouche, a brief skirmish or fit of anger‘! After that I flitted about from one significant date to another, thoroughly enjoying the brilliant discoveries I made. Then I stopped. And now I’m savouring each day as it arises in the calendar because I don’t want reading this delightful selection of entries to be over too soon.

You can read The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities on a daily basis as I am now doing, or you can turn to the Wordfinder at the back of the book and select a word that takes your fancy. Either way, the entries are hugely entertaining. As well as the linguistic interest there’s history, sociology, geography and so many wondrous things to discover. I am so impressed by the incredible devotion to research that has gone in to finding the words, and making them available to the reader through totally accessible prose and providing the background to the word’s etymology and usage.

I’m absolutely adoring this book and think it would make a fantastic gift for any reader or writer. There are three friends at least who will be receiving copies from me. In the meantime, having read some of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities I may now have to become a word-grubber, but until then I’m off to scurryfunge the house!

About Paul Anthony Jones


Paul Anthony Jones is something of a linguistic phenomenon. He runs @HaggardHawks Twitter feed, blog and YouTube channel, revealing daily word facts to 39,000 engaged followers.  His books include Word Drops (2015) and The Accidental Dictionary (2016).  His etymological contributions appear regularly, from the Guardian to the Telegraph, Buzzfeed to Huffington Post and BBC Radio 4.

You can follow Paul Anthony Jones on Twitter @paulanthjones, and visit his website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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13 thoughts on “The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones

  1. celiascosmos - CELIA MOORE says:

    24 October – Haven’t got this wonderful sounding book so I am making up a my word for my thoughts ‘Luminolished’ = sounds wonderful through your thoughts

    Liked by 1 person

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