What makes a place so memorable that it survives forever in a word? In this captivating round-the-world tour, Paul Anthony Jones acts as your guide through the intriguing stories of how eighty places became immortalized in the English language. You’ll discover why the origins of turkeys, limericks, Brazil nuts, and Panama hats aren’t quite as straightforward as you might presume. If you’ve never heard of the tiny Czech mining town of Jáchymov—or Joachimsthal, as it was known until the late 1800s—you’re not alone, which makes its claim to fame as the origin of the word “dollar” all the more extraordinary. The story of how the Great Dane isn’t all that Danish makes the list, as does the Jordanian mountain whose name has become a byword for a tantalizing glimpse. We’ll also find out what the Philippines has given to your office inbox, what Alaska has given to your liquor cabinet, and how a speech given by a bumbling North Carolinian gave us a word for impenetrable nonsense.
Surprising, entertaining, and illuminating, this is essential reading for armchair travelers and word nerds. Our dictionaries are full of hidden histories, tales, and adventures from all over the world—if you know where to look.