This book is put forward in the belief that a demand exists for a concise epitome of the origin and meaning of words and phrases which are in every-day use but which are often not appreciated at their full significance. Its size is sufficient to show that it is neither intended to be an exhaustive philological treatise nor an academic encyclopaedia, but it aims at throwing an interesting light on many words by recalling their derivation, and it endeavours to give useful information in a pleasant and chatty form. One of the chief difficulties in its compilation has been the selection of its contents. Some criterion had to be established, as it was obviously impossible, while confining the book to convenient limits, to include everything that would be of interest to all, and yet that which might appear most desirable to some, might be esteemed valueless by others. Eventually, as the result of much cogitation, the compiler decided to cut the Gordian knot by boldly wielding the sword of his own fancy — only that which seemed of interest to him should be included.