Navigate every situation in modern life with eloquence and grace with this curated list of words featuring witty analysis of their origins, meanings and practical applications. In On the Tip of My Tongue, logophile and television star Tom Read Wilson takes a delicious dive into the etymology and usage of all kinds of words, euphemisms and bon mots. Divided into sections spanning dating, personal development, show business, compliments, curses, complaining without being a Karen and more, discover words and phrases like: Companion: Panis is the Latin root meaning “bread”.
At first glance, companion seems to be no companion of our root. However, etymologically, we have a “person one breaks bread with”. Companion, as we use it today, may seem adrift from its root but it is not the only word that metamorphosed, over time, from mere dining partner to chum: Mate comes from the Old English mete, which once meant all food – not just animal flesh.
So your mate was the person with whom you shared your meat. Isn’t that lovely? I have become the Bayeux Tapestry: There are, naturally, occasions – though they are of course rare – where one is just too tired to attend a party. Tired, fatigued, flat, all sound so beige and drear-full that I always find myself leaning toward euphemism instead.
My favourite is “threadbare”. However, sometimes even threadbare gets a bit threadbare so I plump for the most famous of all threadbare pieces to demonstrate the point. JOMO: Acronyms tend to be quite bold.
The reduction of a phrase to single initials is often an endeavour to soften it while retaining your core assertion. Acronyms remove the sting. Somehow, telling your chum that you experienced JOMO missing that dinner party when you were rather threadbare is a lot more innocuous than saying you felt the Joy Of Missing Out, which I experience a great deal more than its counterpart, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
With Tom’s wit and lifelong love of words by your side, you’ll never be lost for words again, whether you are trying to understand the many metaphors for sex or trying to tell your mother you love her. This is a delightful and hilarious etymological solution to the Dear Mary dilemmas and conundrums of modern life and a must-read for every budding vocabularian.