Bryson’s Dictionary Of Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson, one of the most skilled and beloved writers in the English language, offers his guidance on how to use the language precisely and without mistakes.
Bryson describes English as a highly peculiar and unpredictable language, filled with quirks and irregularities that defy logic and common sense. For example, the word “cleave” can mean both to cut in half and to hold two halves together. The word “set” has a staggering 126 different meanings as a verb, 58 as a noun, and 10 as a participial adjective. Additionally, the language has confusing situations such as “run fast” indicating swift movement while being “stuck fast” means being immobile. Even spellings can be misleading, evident in words like “colonel,” “freight,” “once,” and “ache.”
As a copy editor for the London Times in the early 1980s, Bryson noticed the absence of an easily accessible authoritative guide for avoiding English language traps and pitfalls. Taking matters into his own hands, he boldly proposed to a publisher the idea of writing such a guide. Surprisingly, the publisher agreed, and with a carefully calculated compensation to prevent embarrassment, Bryson began writing, thus initiating his remarkable career.
Fast forward to the present day, after a decade and a half, the book has been revised, updated, and thoroughly Americanized. It has transformed into “Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words” – a more indispensable reference to the beautifully chaotic English language than ever before. With approximately one thousand entries, ranging from “a, an” to “zoom,” the dictionary showcases real-life examples of questionable language usage from various international publications. To further assist readers, it includes a useful glossary and a pronunciation guide.
This book, written by the witty and prescriptive Bryson, should undoubtedly grace the desk of anyone who deeply values the English language and strives to use it correctly and respectfully, refusing to mangle, misuse, or distort it.