"Quite how Hitchings has managed to wrestle this dizzying mountain of dense information into such an elegant narrative ... is a feat almost as admirable as that of the great lexicographer [Samuel Johnson]. His book is painstakingly detailed, closely argued and suffused with a contagious enthusiasm for the secrets woven into the fabric of our words."

Kate Colquhoun, Daily Telegraph

"Hitchings's excavations are a treat. He presents the best gleanings of academia in a winning, conversational style. Almost every spadeful yields an etymological nugget... Elegantly and entertainingly written."

Christian Tyler, Financial Times

"A fascinating exploration of the rich borrowings, exchanges and couplings of language."

Ben Macintyre, The Times

"Clever, persuasive, delightful."

John Morrish, Independent on Sunday

"Learned, wise and educative."

Kirkus Reviews

"The author's zest and grasp are wonderful. He makes you want to check out everything... Whatever is hybrid, fluid and unpoliced about English delights him."

The Economist