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The Painted Word
A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins
Phil Cousineau
ISBN: 9781936740178
Book (Paperback)
Viva Editions
5 x 7
336 pages
September 18, 2012


"The masterfulness of The Painted Word is its re-telling of lost tales, illustrating the absurdities, tragedies and comedies of words—all through Cousineau’s detailed, cinematic storytelling, which includes babbling parrots, bawdy 18th Century lairs, pirate Bugis of ferocious seas, and hundreds of other word stories." —Nick Belardes, author of Random Obsessions: Trivia You Can't Life Without

"Wordsmiths start young, scribbling in the margin of school notebooks scintillating, ruminate, Antofagasta. And later, define favorite words, gathering a personal, perhaps private collection: Robespierre, garrulous, existential. Phil Cousineau has it in spades. Beyond the sound, the lyrical or harshness, he pursues the etymology, the path taken to become part of the vocabulary we speak and read. And far from binding them selfishly to himself, he shares. The Painted Word follows the 30 books he has created already, a treasury, a compendium, each word with its derivation spelled out in a compact paragraph." —The Portland Book Review

To untangle the knot of interlocking meanings of these painted words, logophile and mythologist Phil Cousineau begins each fascinating word entry with his own brief definition. He then fills it in with a tint of etymology and a smattering of quotes that show how the word is used, ending with a list of companion words. The words themselves range from commonplace — like biscuit, a twice-baked cake for Roman soldiers — to loanwords including chaparral, from the Basque shepherds who came to the American West; words from myths, such as hector; metamorphosis words, like silly, which evolved holy to goofy in a mere thousand years; and words well worthy of revival, such as carrytale, a wandering storyteller. Whether old-fangled or brand new, all the words included in The Painted Word possess an ineffable quality that makes them luminous.

Phil Cousineau is an award-winning writer and filmmaker, host of the Global Spirits series and travel tour leader. An early fascination with the art, literature, and history of culture has taken him from Michigan to Marrakesh, Iceland to the Amazon, in a worldwide search for what the ancients called the “soul of the world.” With more than 25 books and 15 scriptwriting credits to his name, the “omnipresent influence of myth in modern life” is a thread that runs through all of his work. His books include Stoking the Creative Fires and Once and Future Myths. A protégé of the late Joseph Campbell, Cousineau is also the editor of The Hero’s Journey.
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