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About the book
  • Published: 1 February 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446415115
  • Imprint: BBC Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 544

Kick the Bucket and Swing the Cat

The Complete Balderdash & Piffle Collection of English Words, and Their Curious Origins

English words and phrases, and their curious origins

Kick the Bucket and Swing the Cat takes a humorous tour through the fascinating, sometimes tragic, and often surprising history of the English language and its etymology.

Author, humorist and word-sleuth Alex Games uncovers the trends, innovations and scandals that have shaped the meanings of our most popular words and expressions, from Chaucer to Internet jargon and Ancient Greek to American slang. Who was the original Jack the Lad, Gordon Bennett or Bloody Mary? Where do dodgy geezers and hooligans come from? What are skeldering, dithering and sabre-rattling?

This amusing but rigorously researched account of English words and their origins combines the findings of the major BBC TV series and the nationwide Wordhunt, and is an entertaining treasure trove for English-language lovers everywhere.

  • Pub date: 1 February 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446415115
  • Imprint: BBC Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 544

About the Author

Alex Games

Alex Games wrote the original Balderdash & Piffle which became an instant bestseller on publication in January 2006. He has written for most of the slightly posher newspapers, and in a brief stint as a gadget columnist he was responsible for reviewing some of the most inexpensive items ever to appear in the Financial Times. As well as writing comedy for BBC Radio 1 and 4, Alex has written biographies of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, and Alan Bennett.

Victoria Coren is a well-known freelance journalist. She writes weekly columns in the Guardian and the Observer, and she has written two books, Love 16 and Once More With Feeling. She presents Balderdash & Piffle and several televised poker series. Victoria is a keen amateur word-hunter and an avid completer of crosswords, albeit not always with the right answers.

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Praise for Kick the Bucket and Swing the Cat

“It was fun, instructive and will appeal to the scholarly in all of us. I see no earthly reason why it should not, as it used to say on theatre posters, run and run”

Peter Paterson, Daily Mail


The Times

“It's the kind of show that sticks a boot up the posterior of those who claim the BBC is only interested in dumbing down pap these days”

Dominik Diamond, Daily Star

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