"The average contemporary English speaker knows 50,000 words. Yet this apparently huge diversity masks a network of complex and often unsuspected family relationships that link many of these words together. Who would ever guess that beef and cow come from the same ancestor, for instance, or that lukewarm and chowder are related to each other? Word Origins opens the cupboard of English vocabulary and brings out some of its best-hidden skeletons. Word Origins provides a concise history of thousands of the most commonly used words. The range of information spans from the simplest derivations to the most obscure lexical relations. Word Origins demonstrates how the myriad influences on English have given rise to some unlikely connections between words, and will appeal to everyone who loves or is studying the English language."--Jacket.