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Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas: Popular Expressions - and How We Got Them    by Judy Parkinson order for
Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas
by Judy Parkinson
Order:  USA  Can
Readers Digest, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Judy Parkinson, author of i before e (except after c): Old-School Ways to Remember Stuff now brings us Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas: Popular Expressions - and How We Got Them. She informs us in her Introduction that the 'staples of our language ... originate from the most diverse sources' and then proceeds to share them with readers.

Expressions range from Add Insult to Injury (translated from Aesop's Fables) to the playful Zigged Before You Zagged. Most of these sayings will be familiar to readers though the odd one might not. For example, All Cats Love Fish, but Fear to Wet their Paws was new to me. For each, Parkinson goes into the expression's meaning and history, and also provides intriguing literary references for many of them.

I was fascinated to learn that Bark Up the Wrong Tree originated in raccoon hunting; that the term Pushing the Envelope comes from mathematics and not from stationery; and that What the Dickens? has nothing to do with the novelist. It's great fun to browse through this little book, which would make a perfect holiday stocking stuffer.

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