Jess Zafarris, author of Words from Hell, in conversation with Sarah Cole

Porter Square Books is thrilled to welcome Jess Zafarris for an event about her book Words from Hell!  Sarah Cole, Assistant Professor of Publishing at Emerson College, will join Zafarris in conversation. This event will take place on Tuesday, April 23 at 7pm at Porter Square Books: Boston Edition (50 Liberty Dr., Boston, MA 02210).

RSVP below to let us know you're coming and to receive event updates!


The English language is where words go to be tortured and mutilated into unrecognizable shadows of their former selves. It's where Latin, Greek, and Germanic roots are shredded apart and stitched unceremoniously back together with misunderstood snippets of languages snatched from the wreckage of conquest and colonialism. It wreaks merciless havoc upon grammar and spelling. It turns clinical terms into insults and children's tales into filthy euphemisms.

With an emphasis on understanding where the foulest words in the English language came from-and the disgusting and hilarious histories behind them-this book demonstrates the true filth of our everyday words. But this book is more than just a list of vulgar words and salacious slang. It's a thoughtful analysis of why we deem words as being inappropriate as well as revealing 'good words' that have surprisingly naughty origins.
Dirty-minded word nerds and lewd linguistics lovers will derive unadulterated pleasure in leering at the origins of swear words, sexual lingo, inappropriate idioms, violent vocabulary, and terminology for bodily functions-not to mention the unexpectedly foul origins of words you thought were perfectly innocent. If it's inappropriate, stomach-churning, uncomfortable, or offensive, this book reaches into the dark recesses of history and exposes them for all to see.

True to the Chambers brand, this book combines humor, scholarly research and a beautiful design. It is a book to enjoy, collect and revisit time and time again.


Jess Zafarris is the author of the etymology books Words from Hell and Once Upon a Word. She is also an editor, journalist, content director, game and puzzle maker, and social media strategist and creator.

Sarah Cole is an Assistant Professor of Publishing at Emerson College. Prior to joining the faculty in the Writing, Literature & Publishing department, Sarah worked in publishing for 20 years in the UK at Hachette and Cambridge University Press. Words from Hell was the last book she published after a career-long pursuit to find the perfect author to write a smart book about swear words.

Event date: 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

Porter Square Books: Boston Edition
50 Liberty Dr.
Boston, MA 02210

RSVP Form: 

RSVP to attend our event with Jess Zafarris!

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Words from Hell: Unearthing the darkest secrets of English etymology By Jess Zafarris Cover Image
ISBN: 9781399808200
Availability: In Stock: Click Title to See if it's in CAMBRIDGE or BOSTON
Published: Chambers - October 31st, 2023


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