Carnal Knowledge: A Navel Gazer's Dictionary of Anatomy, Etymology, and Trivia

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Macmillan, 2007 M08 7 - 260 pages

From head to toe to breast to behind, Carnal Knowledge is a delightfully intoxicating tour of the words we use to describe our bodies. Did you know:

-eye is one of the oldest written words in the English language?
-callipygian means "having beautiful buttocks"?
-gam, a slang word for "leg," comes from the French word jambe?

A treat for anyone who gets a kick out of words, Carnal Knowledge is also the perfect gift for anyone interested in the human body and the many (many, many) ways it's been described.

"Delight your friends (or lose them rapidly) with this fabulous new knowledge presented with deftness and wit."
---Lynn Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves and Talk to the Hand

"Master etymologist Charles Hodgson offers a passionate lesson...illuminates how just about every part of the amazing human chassis got its name."
---Richard Lederer, author of Word Wizard

"A near-perfect body of work that will not only entertain your brain but tickle your funny bone, too."
---Erin McKean, editor in chief, The New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed.)

"More than a list of anatomical words and their meanings, Hodgson's book fleshes out the meaning behind the words. This is a blood-and-guts encyclopedia, not some bone-dry dictionary.... Even misologists (haters of knowledge) will find pleasure in Carnal Knowledge."
---Robert Hartwell Fiske, author of The Dictionary of Disagreeable English, Deluxe Edition

"And you thought you knew your own body! A captivating trove of facts and history that will amuse and fascinate."
--- Jane Farrow, Wanted Words, CBC Radio

CHARLES HODGSON is an engineer by training and a logophile (word lover) by habit. He produces a daily blog and podcast for word lovers at

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User Review  - Angelic55blonde - LibraryThing

I literally just finished this book and I was nicely surprised! It's a great book to pick up at any page and read, or just read from start to finish. I've already started saying to my friends "did you ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

CHARLES HODGSON is an engineer by training and a logophile (word lover) by habit.

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