Today is the day! Once Upon a Word: A Word Origin Dictionary for Kids is officially out and available for purchase. You can find it in all major online and physical bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and in indie bookstores through IndieBound, as well as Target, Costco, and other stores.
This book is a beautifully designed, kid-friendly (but certainly not exclusively kid-oriented) introduction and deep-dive into etymology, including extensive charts of common Latin and Greek roots, as well as more than 850 definitions and stories about the origins of words.
Kids will be able to expand their vocabulary, not only by looking up words in the book, but also by learning how to use common roots, prefixes, and suffixes, to figure out the meanings of words they’ve never encountered before.
The book also featured beautiful illustrations by the talented Marco Marella, along with quick-reference sections on the origins of your favorite foods and musical terms.
So far, it has received rave reviews from parents and educators alike, and it’s #1 in several kids’ categories on Amazon.
Here’s a preview of some of my favorite word origins from the book:
- “Amateur” comes from the Latin amatorem, meaning “lover,” because an amateur does something for the love of it rather than for work
- “Thesaurus” essentially means “treasure trove,” from the Greek thesauros, meaning “treasury” or “treasure chest”
- “Clone,” comes from the Greek klon, meaning “twig” because the earliest cloning process involved breaking twigs off of plants and using them to grow new ones
- “Brilliant” comes from a Latin word literally meaning “shining like beryl” (beryl being a category of mineral/gemstone to which emerald and aquamarine belong)
- “Algebra” comes from the Arabic al-jabr, meaning “a reunion of broken parts,” and was both an Arabic mathematical term and a medical term for setting broken bones.