Amazing Words and Where they Came From

Illustrator: Nicholas Stevenson

Binding: Hardcover

Imprint: What on Earth Books

Age 5+

History & The Past: General Interest

This stunning picture books explores the extraordinary stories behind the global origins of some ordinary-seeming words

Did you know that karaoke is an orchestra without any musicians, or that a companion is someone to share your lunch with? The stories behind everyday English words are a treasure trove of unexpected stories.

Discover the global connections that have shaped the English language in this ingenious book packed with dazzling painted illustrations.


Patrick Skipworth studied Classics and Linguistics in London and the Netherlands, connecting the dots between ancient cultures, their histories and their languages. Today, Patrick is a children’s book editor, but likes to write his own stories when he can. Some of his favourite topics are prehistoric bugs, super-intelligent robots and legends from far away places.


The witty illustrations add their own explanation of the meaning and connections behind each word and each word becomes part of the illustration. A useful map of language families completes a book designed to whet the appetite to explore yet more word origins. Readers will be left with a real awareness of the cultural diversity and ever-changing nature of the English language. An attractive and appealing information book that will be read with pleasure.


MOMENT OF TRUTH” choice: “A vibrantly illustrated brief dictionary of quirky words and where they come from.” – Big Issue North,”We love the way [Literally] teaches children about the global diversity hidden in the English language.

Absolutely Prep & Pre-Prep Magazine

Patrick Skipworth’s latest picture book turns on our brain when delving into the science of etymology, while Nicholas Stevenson’s illustrations delight the eye. Focusing on English words, the book looks at the origin of the word, it’s current meaning and links the word to languages around the world. With strong ties to geography, children have fun exploring the connections to indigenous languages and cultures both past and present, showing how- no matter where we are from- we are all interconnected. A riveting must-read!

Teach Early Years Magazine

Vibrantly illustrated look at global diversity and cultures through the prism of language. From its striking yellow cover to the colour drenched inside spreads, this is a book which grabs the reader’s attention … This fascinating and accessible introduction to linguistics also has some surprises, for example the word Mummy used to describe a preserved body does not come from where you would expect!


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