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Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

... giving the Derivation, Source, or Origin of Common Phrases, Allusions, and Words that have a Tale to Tell. Not always believable (especially the older editions) but usually entertaining and quite often informative.

There is no date on my Fourteenth Edition copy, though I vaguely remember someone telling me that endpapers in a solid, dark colour indicate the end of the nineteenth century. A review comment from The Queen – a periodical, I suspect, rather than a person – says

Another edition of this useful book is chiefly noticeable for the fact that in it many of the errors and slips into which its author had fallen and previously acknowledged in an appendix, are corrected in the body of the work.

You don't have to be a hard-working technical author to realise that information presentation has changed a bit since the early 1900s: try understanding the caption of many a Punch cartoon from the same era, or plotting a journey with a Bradshaw. Dr. Brewer was very fond of anticipating readers who might start an enquiry from a strange angle, and would have loved hypertext: an almost random flick through my battered copy turns up

Blue Blood. (See SANG BLEU)
Guildenstern. (See ROSENCRANTZ)
Halter. A Bridport dagger (q.v.)
Monkey. (A). £500 (See MARYGOLD)

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