Ware's Victorian Dictionary of Slang and Phrase
A goldmine for anyone intrigued by the weird and wonderful usages of slang, Ware’s 1909 compilation of ‘Passing English’ is introduced by John Simpson, former Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, who describes it as full of expressions ‘that might never find their way into more straitlaced dictionaries’. As well as words and phrases dating from the late 19th century, including slang from different occupations, sports, countries and ‘street’, Ware explains new idioms such as cads on castors (bicyclists) and the American brownstone fronts (aristocrats).
A Dictionary of Scottish Phrase and Fable
From da Aald Rock (Shetlanders’ name for their native islands) and all things Aberdonian, to Zeenty-teenty (an old children’s rhyme that involves slicing and frying mice), Ian Crofton presents a miscellany of colourful and interesting words, phrases, names and stories that together offer a kaleidoscopic view of Scottish legends, customs and culture past and present. Above all, the Dictionary is wonderfully diverting, with cross-references, and hundreds of quotations from prose, poetry and song.
Evolving English Wordbank
A Glossary of Present-Day English Dialect and Slang
Jonathan Robinson curates the British Museum's archive of sound recordings illustrating British accents and dialects. He has compiled this quirky yet fascinating glossary by using such audio material collected from present-day dialect speakers, as well as old dictionaries' evidence of historical usage, so that the Wordbank not only provides a snapshot of vernacular English in the early 21st century but also reveals the ancient origins of many words and phrases in use today.
The Superior Person's Third Book of Words
Why say 'willy-nilly' when you could say 'nolens volens'? Peter Bowler's third collection of verbarian exotica aims to fortify your vocabulary and allow you to assert your ascendancy 'at the traffic lights of life', possibly. Along with practical definitions for words like haptephobia (fear of being touched) and oscitancy (yawning), Bowler relates cheerful anecdotes of eccentric scholars, idiotic concepts, oddities of the intellectual life and the odd deliberate mistake.
The Dictionary Series
'A browser's paradise', this set comprises four dictionaries: one defines and traces the origins of almost 300 commonly used words from 'accolade' to 'zoo'; another provides detailed explanations of over 400 idioms in current use; English Down the Ages starts from historical events (from 1066 to 1989) and explores how they brought new vocabulary into the language; and Proverbs and Their Origins explains the meaning and usage of 400 proverbs, chosen for their interesting etymologies and stories. Slipcased.