What Partridge did have was a keen ear for cliches. He said:
"Expressions that offend me are clichés in general; all slipshoddery; unnecessary neologisms; obscene words and phrases that are dragged in for the sake of obscenity; not those which are integral, entirely natural, to dialogue or other matter." He spoke of "that excellent blood sport 'cliché-hunting'."
We owe these quotes to Israel Shenker's Saturday Review appreciation of Partridge. Shenker summarized Partridge's accomplishment, in an article titled "Hail to the 'Word King'" (September 21, 1974):
In dictionaries massive, glossaries exhaustive, articles frothy, reviews engaging, he has put words in their place, communicating delight in well-ordered vocabularies and impatience with collections of letters artlessly posing as words.
Some books Partridge wrote are:
A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (1937). I read that you want an older edition of this book for your library, since editions since 1979 have been bowdlerized.
A Dictionary of Cliches. First published (1940).
Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (1959).
We learned the origin of the word "cat" is Germanic, coming into old English as "catt" (a male cat) and the female form "catte."
A last Partridge quote: "Every worthwhile book contains many faults, and every worthwhile writer commits them."