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Take a Word…. Book: Etymology, History, Sayings; Book of Kells, Book Clubs, a Poem and a Short Story

Updated on September 13, 2018
annart profile image

Ann likes to research the history of words, to experiment with them and to encourage others to use fresh words and idioms.

Etymology of 'book'

‘book’ comes from:

  • the Old English bōc (a document or charter)
  • (from the Germanic) the Old English bōcian (to grant by charter)
  • the Dutch ‘boek’
  • the German ‘Buch’
  • and probably related to the English ‘beech’ (in which runes were carved)

You can Never have Too Many Books

Children's books, fiction, poetry & dictionaries
Children's books, fiction, poetry & dictionaries | Source

What's your Idea of a Good Book?

Whatever style or genre of book you enjoy, there is such a vast choice that chances are we all read a varied selection. It's good to loose ourselves in entertaining fiction. A well-crafted poem can touch our emotions. An informative article can educate, even change lives. In short, the power of words is enormous.

A book is a solid object. We can read fiction or non-fiction online, as an e-book or article, but 'curling up with a good book' is unbeatable. Curling up with a kindle just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? A book has a smell, a texture; it's a friend which opens up a treasure-chest of emotions or information or both. First, let's find out about the word itself.

Some of my Good Books

A mixture of interests
A mixture of interests | Source

Definitions of 'book'


  • a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers
  • a literary composition that is published or intended for publication as a book
  • the telephone directory for the area in which someone lives (is your name in the book?)
  • a set of records or accounts
  • a bookmaker’s record of bets accepted and money paid out
  • notebook in which a referee writes the names of players who are cautioned
  • a set of tickets, stamps, matches, samples of cloth, raffle tickets etc, bound together
  • (this was a new one on me!) the first six tricks taken by the declarer in a hand of bridge, after which further tricks count towards fulfilling the contract


  • reserve (accommodation, a place..), buy (a ticket) in advance
  • reserve accommodation for someone
  • book in/into (e.g.when arriving at a hotel)
  • engage (a performer or guest) for an event
  • make an official note of the personal details of (a person who has broken a law or rule)
  • US informal: leave suddenly; move quickly; hurry

Book of Stamps

Cover.... | Source
... and inside
... and inside | Source

Story or Poem?

I wasn’t sure whether to weave a short story or a poem around these ‘book’ idioms; however, I promised John (Jodah) that I would write a poem just for him when I published the next of the series. So, here you are, John!

Let's Do it By the Book

Well, books are swell aren’t they? They kiss and tell don’t they? They teach us so much about life.

How to balance the books, or fiddle them maybe, or spread icing thick with a knife.

You might be a bookworm who curls up each evening with your nose in a book, glass of wine,

to read a good tale of sweet girl and rogue male who blotted his copybook - swine!

What puts such a person into our bad books? Why is it we want his comeuppance?

He thinks he knows all of the tricks in the book but she knows, she doesn’t give tuppence.

She’s seen his little black book full of names, in fact she reads him like a book.

That’s why she gets rid of him, just throws the book at him, makes sure that he’s brought to book.

She books a short holiday and whilst she’s away, she grasses him to the police.

They book him, the bigamist, all by the book. He’s out in the cold, no solace.

She books into hotel, gets bell, book and candle and closes the book on that man.

She takes a leaf out of her sister’s book, sort of, and tries, well, whatever she can.

Oldest trick in the book is offering to cook, a sure way to win a man’s heart.

She’d written the book on it, thought she knew all of it, then she found she’d missed a part.

With her new man’s kissing, her bank-book went missing; she’d been such an open book.

How foolish she felt, in letters spelt out, for certain it’s one for the books.

Ok, said her sister, don’t worry, it’s Mister bank man who’s going to get hurt.

Not in my book, it isn’t, said the girl who just couldn’t see how this was going to work.

He was on all the books, on all lists of crooks, but then, he just turned in his tracks.

He missed her so badly, was crying so sadly, and knew that he must change his tack.

The man, he came back, how crazy is that? It just goes to show that a lover

can be good or sad but not always bad, so don’t judge a book by its cover.

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

A Pirate or a Sheep or neither?
A Pirate or a Sheep or neither? | Source

The Good Book (yes, a story as well!)

Samuel knew The Good Book well, was familiar with the books of the Old Testament as well as the Gospels. He lived by their principles and generally didn’t do too badly. Though his main occupation was Rector, he was also a writer.

“Off to the book-signing at 10,” he told his wife. “Do you want to come?”

No reply. He looked over to where she sat deep in the armchair by the window, “Jo, do you want to come?” his tone held a slight annoyance.

She started and looked up quickly, “Oh sorry darling, I was deep in my book, didn’t hear you, what was that?” A minute’s discussion decided that she was best left at home, nose in book; it wouldn’t be that interesting to watch a line of people asking for an autograph.

If there was a line, that is. For all he knew he’d be alone with his pile of apprehensive books. Still, he’d had some success with his little books of words, his three plays; a few aspiring actors had enjoyed touring the county in rep*. Several village halls had been booked up which was encouraging. In writing it, he was hoping his brother might read it one day. Arguments at home and a yen for the boards had taken him away.

The Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg Bible - the first printed version of 'The Good Book'
Gutenberg Bible - the first printed version of 'The Good Book' | Source

The Book Signing

Most seemed to enjoy his sermons, there was still a spattering of villagers each Sunday. The last delivery had been on the subject of the ‘People of the Book’, as Jews and Christians were referred to by Muslims. It was along the lines of being aware of ‘living by the book’, no matter the religion. Little did he know it was going to have such an impact.

“Here we are,” thought Samuel as he drew up outside the local book shop. Peeking through the age-old distorted panes, he could see a few waiting hopefuls with copies of his effort tucked under their arms.

He had signed a fair few, when the man next in line threw his copy down on the table in front of Samuel. He didn’t recognise him. He noticed unkempt hair, a thread-bare coat and bookish glasses but something about him made him uneasy. It seemed he was there to cause trouble.

“Didn’t think much of your sermon last week,” said the man. “I suppose we should live by this book, should we? Not very Christian in my mind. Crossing the line, if you ask me, writing about such filth.”

The story concerned a relationship, a break of trust and loyalty, an affair, all culminating in a reconciliation, in a ‘happy ever after’. This stranger obviously wasn’t impressed and literally wanted to throw the book at him.

Together Again

“Well,” said Samuel, “I doubt it amounts to ‘bell, book and candle’ but I’m sorry you were offended by it. It was fiction with a message of love. I suppose you don’t want me to sign your copy?”

“Sign it? Of course I want you to sign it, Sam,” said the man. “It’s for Michael. He’s tracked you down via this measly book and the least you can do is write him a few words.”

With that, the man removed his old coat, took off his disguise and sat down next to Samuel with a grin, a handshake, then a hug.

“Guess it’s time I stopped acting stupid, started living by a better book and asked my family to forgive me.”

Samuel couldn’t stop smiling.

*rep = reparatory company, a group of provincial actors putting on plays

‘Bell, book and candle’ refers to excommunication from the church, being damned to hell unless you conformed or did penance for whatever sin you’d committed. A bell, a Bible (the Good Book) and priests with candles were all present. The candles were snuffed out or dashed to the ground when the ritual was complete. By inference, it’s getting rid of something you hate.

Nose in a Book

Bookworm Extraordinaire!
Bookworm Extraordinaire! | Source

A little more

‘close the books’ - cease trading

‘Throw the book at someone’ - the law book, the rule book - give them the worst penalty possible.

‘Blot your copybook’ - let a blot of ink fall on the page of writing that was being copied out and therefore spoil your work, make it inferior… coming to mean that you’ve not done your best, you’ve spoiled your reputation.

Debutantes used to practise good comportment, heads held high using a book balanced on the head.

Amazing Art

The Book of Kells is a manuscript Gospel book in Latin, the original Monks’ illuminated letters, carefully kept from around AD 800. It was created in a Columban monastery in Britain or Ireland, regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure, a masterpiece of Western calligraphy and included the Lindisfarne Gospels. The manuscript takes its name from the Abbey of Kells, which was its home for centuries. Today, it is on permanent display at Trinity College Library, Dublin.

It is an example of painstaking, outstanding, dedicated artistry, done in the name of devotion over a lifetime.

Book of Kells

Dedicated artistry
Dedicated artistry | Source

Do you belong to a Book Club?

Book clubs exist all over Britain and no doubt in most places around the world. If you enjoy reading then see what groups are in your area. It’s an opportunity to discuss the books you read, to meet new people with different preferences and ideas of what makes a good read, as well as introducing you to styles of books which you wouldn’t normally choose for yourself.

Usually, someone suggests a book and, if all agree, it’s ordered from the library. The meetings are generally once a month but can be organised to suit a group’s needs.

We meet in the local Arts Centre, have a glass of wine or other drink from the bar and then rent a room away from the noise where we can exchange views about our latest read. It’s good fun, light-hearted and leads to many fascinating discussions about connected themes.

If there isn’t one in your area, start one of your own! All it needs is a core of 6-10 people; they could be your neighbours, colleagues or a group of friends. Why not try it?!

Never too Early to Start!

Bedtime Reading
Bedtime Reading | Source

Make up your own!

How about creating a Dictionary of Hubbers’ Idioms? Make up your own! I'll record them and make a hub out of it if there are enough. Just for fun; who knows, it might catch on!

A few to get you thinking (open to any other words, as long as they're original!)

  • book-worthy (a subject worth writing about)
  • a story worth a hundred books (a good story)
  • book biting or book nibbling (a gripping story, so that you’re nibbling on the edge of the page, instead of finger-nails, with tension)
  • beat the book (get the information out first)
  • book-scared (doesn’t like reading)
  • let’s book the story (finish the last draft)
  • all booked out (too much reading)


some idioms taken from Book of Kells

Choice of Books

What is your favourite book (please be more specific in the comments)?

See results

© 2015 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Hi Frank! Thanks for your kind words and your clever use of idioms in response. It's fun messing about with words, isn't it?


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      I love the creative flow of your story.. and poem, And this type of hub will always entertain me.. I'm so glad you did it by the book :) Clever... superb craftsmen and it was a cover to cover read.. awesome

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Alicia! I'm pleased you like this too.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Mel. I like to know all these incidentals!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another fun and interesting hub, Ann. I always enjoy your combination of information, creativity and entertainment!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      We also say, "He was bookin' " if someone was going particularly fast. Definitely lowbrow slang, but pretty common.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Venkatachari M: You are very kind; thank you so much. I'm glad you liked this and I appreciate the compliment.


    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      4 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very beautiful and interesting hub. You are always great in your presentation styles. Enjoyed a lot.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Have now hopefully made it easier on the eye, John! As it's your poem, I thought I'd better do as you say, or you won't speak to me again LOL.

      Team effort - great!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      manatita: Thank you for your kind words. Yes, Magna Carta was a charter. I hope you didn't really get tired of reading by the age of eleven! Lots of people love Dickens but I'm not one of them; too much flowery description for me, a bit OTT.

      I was never a professor (teaching was via College of Education when I did my training) but I have taught English at all levels, including foreign students, before I specialised in literacy. French too, and all subjects at Primary level.

      Thanks for your input and your wide choice of books. It's always interesting to find out what others enjoy.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Yes, John, you're right. I originally set it out as per your second suggestion. I suppose it gives the reader less work to do that way! I'll sort it out later today as I have a few other things to attend to first - life kind of gets in the way of writing sometimes, doesn't it? Actually, life gives me all my writing ideas, so that's a stupid thing to say!

      Thanks for taking the time to get back to me on that, John.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Eric; you're too kind. Yes the Book of Kells is truly remarkable. I guess there must be a place called Kells, as there was an Abbey where the books original came from. I did look it all up but haven't got all the info to hand at the moment.

      I came across it because I was doing illuminated writing with my dyslexic students, just for fun - a more light-hearted way of looking at letters! The art-work that resulted was outstanding.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Mel. Glad you liked it. Yes the US English 'book' was a new one on me (mentioned in the definitions); I can't equate the word 'book' with going fast though! Maybe it's something to do with getting it done and filed! Anyway, thanks for the visit and for your input; always appreciated.


    • manatita44 profile image


      4 years ago from london

      So many books! Un libro, a book. Hey there, you book-worm, sitting up in bed with your kindl ...joking, real book.

      Read excepts from the Magna Carta yesterday. Now that is a meaningful book to us. Or is it a Parchment? Recited a poem, too.

      Well-woven poem to Jodah, and again, a lot of effort showed here. You were probably an English Professor at some point, eh?

      Favourite books? Papillon by Henry Charriere. Harold Robbins, forgotton the name. was it The Storyteller? O, I think it was The Adventurers. Great Expectations by Dickens. Lord of The Flies by William Golding. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding and a few more. Oh yes, Pride and Prejudice, definitely.

      I do belong to a book club, but sadly, for the last 33 years, I have focused on motivational or spiritual books. Forgive me, though. I started reading at 4 years old and was tired from reading by eleven. He he.

      Great and excellent, as well as enjoyable Hub!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Anne, in regard to the poem. I would suggest just setting it out so that the rhyming words are the last word on the line so the rhyme scheme is evident to readers eg.

      Let's Do it By the Book

      "Well, books are swell aren’t they? They kiss and tell don’t they? They teach us so much about life.

      How to balance the books, or fiddle them maybe, or spread icing thick with a knife."


      "Well, books are swell aren’t they?

      They kiss and tell don’t they?

      They teach us so much about life.

      How to balance the books, or fiddle them maybe,

      or spread icing thick with a knife."

      The first example would be easier to alter it to and would do fine I think.

      I hope I am not sounding like I know it all though, and just feel free to ignore this advice if you don't agree. Cheers.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Can it be true? "What puts such a person into our bad books? Why is it we want his comeuppance? He thinks he knows all of the tricks in the book but she knows, she doesn’t give tuppence." A wordsmith extraordinaire. What beauty with our language. Kell's books. Good-bye for a while. I must learn more.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      As per your poll, I don't play favorites with books. In my book, it's all good as long as it is inspired and well written. You've used every trick in the book to affix my attention to your wonderful hub, but the hour is getting late and I've got to book (meaning go fast in American English), so this is one for the books. Great hub!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Shyron. It's good to see you pop up on this series! I think all of us here love words and books; we should, shouldn't we? I'm glad you like this series; I've got quite a few more waiting in the wings but I'm not sure how much longer I'll keep it going.

      Hugs to you too. I hope your weekend is going well and that all's well in your world.


    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Ann, I think you know that I am a Logophile (lover of words) and this is fitting right on my book shelf.

      My favorite is my Bible of which I have four and one audio a link to the Bible on one page ( ).

      I love this series

      Blessings and Hugs


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      'Clock' was the last one I did, bill! Maybe that's why it's in your mind?

      Hope you have a great day with your friend.

      Thank you for your kind words, as always. I do appreciate your support so much and you always give me a boost, especially if my confidence is down. Your approval is important to me because I know you're a brilliant writer.

      Hope your Sunday is singularly spectacular, bill (I know you don't like adverbs but....!).


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Me too, John! It's very difficult to choose a favourite book. I love Jane Austen, particularly 'Pride and Prejudice', but there are so many others in different styles and times, it's nigh on impossible to decide.

      I first presented the poem in 2-line verses which might have been easier to read but then I decided to put it into 4 lines and maybe it was a bit squashed. Do you think I should re-hash that? Glad you liked it though!

      Thanks for the great comments. Hope all's well with you.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You know I love this series, Ann. This is writing at a very high level...craftsman comes to mind. Have you done "clock" yet? I don't remember. If not, perhaps???? I don't know why but that just popped into my brain as a good word to research.

      Anyway, I hope you are having a great weekend. We are getting together with my oldest friend from high school today. Should be a wonderful day on a sunny day.


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Loved hub once again Ann. Thank you for including a poem (especially for me). It took me a little while to get the metre and rhythm but when I read it out loud it was clear, and I thought it was great. You didn't leave anything out, with a story as well. I had trouble voting in the poll because I like all kind of books. One of my favourite recent reads was "The Millennium Trilogy" (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc) by Stieg Larsson, but I also enjoy some of the classics like Sherlock Holmes stories, collections of short stories by Robert Silverberg etc. You chose a great word for this hub "Book" and I am a "bookaholic."

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Flourish. When I do these hubs I always think I've left out something obvious but then I know my fellow-hubbers will jog my memory!

      I think my favourite book (if I take in easy readability) is 'Pride and Prejudice' but, as you say, there are so many great ones.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      PAINTDRIPS: Thank you very much. Glad you found it fun; that's what I aim for!


    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      You've covered every angle! I can't think of an absolute favorite book -- many well-liked.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      I love this. You certainly covered all the possible books. Fun.


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