A Dictionary of Idiocy by Stephen Bayley Review

Reviewed by Cora Leslie

I love reading and have always had a fascination regarding the history of the English language and how it has evolved into the language we use today.

This book is, in fact, not a proper dictionary relating to words we use; rather it is a book of opinions on the words that have become regulars in our modern day interactions.

An idiot, according to the book, originally meant a private man: this book is therefore examining the opinions of a private man. That is if you believe this is a fact of its origin and not an opinion!

I found the book rather hard going: I am much more interested in hard facts when it comes to the origins of words and there use in the language that I read, write and speak every day. I can, however, see how the book could be of interest for people interested in having snippets of information/opinion to use in intellectual discussions.

Some of the opinions regarding words are quite long and felt tedious. The final part of the book “Thunder Against” is much more light hearted and brings a smile to the face. It translates French words into English and then offers a “definition” eg: Accouchment – Pregnancy: A word to be avoided; replace by an event. “When is the (happy) event expected?”

Rating: 3/5

Available to buy from Amazon here.

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