Michael Quinion

Michael Quinion has been a BBC radio producer, an audio-visual creator, museum curator, tourism consultant, lexicographer, etymologist, best-selling author, computer programmer, database designer and website developer, and sometimes feels a little tired. Not so much a career, more a series of accidental lurches from one occupation to another. Learn more about him and his books.


Michael Quinion’s renowned site explores the English language from a British viewpoint. Visit it to read about 3000 pieces on fascinating, amusing and downright weird words and phrases. He gave up writing it in 2017 but the site remains as an archive of 20 years of research and exploration.


This site is based on Michael Quinion’s book Ologies and Isms: Word Beginnings and Endings, published by Oxford University Press in 2002. It is now out of print and has been put online as a free service. The entries cover 1,250 language elements with 10,000 examples; included are thematic indexes and a full-text search.


Michael Quinion was the first curator of the Cider Museum in Hereford and developed the museum from idea to opening. His updated guide to traditional and modern English and Welsh orcharding and cidermaking craft skills of 1982 is available as a Shire Classic from Bloomsbury.


Instead of enjoying a quiet retirement, which he would find disastrously boring, Michael Quinion is an active worker at the Thornbury Volunteer Centre. He has written and maintains its website and databases, takes photographs and designs leaflets and booklets. A sort of high-tech handyman you might say.