Mental Floss’s ‘The Curious Compendium of Wonderful Words’ Features Fun Slang, Strange Phrase Origins, and More

Coming to a coffee table near you.
Coming to a coffee table near you. / Mental Floss/Weldon Owen

Over the last few years, Mental Floss has published books for curious people of three kinds: The Curious Reader was for book lovers, The Curious Viewer was for TV lovers, and The Curious Movie Buff was for, well, you know.

Word lovers, it’s finally your turn. Editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy and the rest of the Mental Floss team present The Curious Compendium of Wonderful Words: A Miscellany of Obscure Terms, Bizarre Phrases, & Surprising Etymologies, out now.

two-page spread from mental floss book 'the curious compendium of wonderful words'
Thanks, Ed! / Mental Floss/Weldon Owen

The Curious Compendium is more than 200 pages of proof that just because language’s main purpose is communication doesn’t make it straightforward or boring in the slightest. Even the simplest terms—from hello to goodbye—have experienced intriguing evolutions, and the stories behind clichéd phrases range from surprisingly literal (e.g. cut to the chase) to surprisingly mysterious (e.g. the whole nine yards).

The English language has also boasted so many offbeat and evocative slang terms over the years that it was tough to choose which ones deserved a spot in our book. We’re happy (or should we say “cock-a-hoop,” instead) to report that choofed, comfoozled, and cream-crackered, all of which essentially mean “tired,” made the cut.

two-page spread showing 'happiness' synonyms in mental floss's 'Curious Compendium' words book
Not all catastrophe is bad. / Mental Floss/Weldon Owen

In addition to old-timey expressions and etymological oddities, The Curious Compendium also features some of history’s most hilarious insults, tips for becoming a Wordle virtuoso, and more.

You can learn more about the book and pick up your copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or