Big Books & Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller

Anatoly Liberman on the origins of English idioms

A man poses next to a separate image of a book cover
Anatoly Liberman is back! This time, he brings a book about the history of English idioms, “Take My Word For It.”
Courtesy University of Minnesota Press

Modern English loves an idiom. We use them all the time. “Take the cake.” “Eat crow.” “Deader than a doornail.” “By hook or by crook.” “Cut the mustard.” “Left in the lurch.”

But do we really know what they mean?

That was University of Minnesota linguistics professor Anatoly Liberman’s question when he set out to write a dictionary of common English language idioms. His new book, “Take My Word For It,” is the first truly all-encompassing etymological guide to both meanings and origins of idioms that surround us every day.

Liberman is a favorite guest on Kerri Miller’s show, and this week, he returns to talk about the history of idioms, both popular and obscure. It’s not rocket science, but it is a delightful and engaging conversation that will leave you feeling as right as rain.


To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above. 

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