Word By Word
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Word By Word

4.18 (4,210 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Do you have strong feelings about the word "irregardless"? Have you ever tried to define the word "is"? Brimming with intelligence and personality, this vastly entertaining account of how dictionaries are made is a must-read for word mavens. Many of us take dictionaries for granted, and few may realize that the process of writing dictionaries is, in fact, as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. And along the way, she reveals little-known surprises--for example, the fact that "OMG" was first used in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917. Word by Word brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a startlingly rich world inhabited by quirky and erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. Certain to be a delight for all lovers of words, Stamper's debut will make you laugh as much as it makes you appreciate the wonderful complexities and eccentricities of the English language.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 152 x 214 x 28mm | 482g
  • PANTHEON
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 110187094X
  • 9781101870945
  • 55,847

Table of contents

Preface xi

HRAFNKELL: On Falling in Love 3
BUT: On Grammar 23
IT’S: On “Grammar” 38
IRREGARDLESS: On Wrong Words 52
CORPUS: On Collecting the Bones 68
SURFBOARD: On Defining 94
PRAGMATIC: On Examples 125
TAKE: On Small Words 136
BITCH: On Bad Words 149
POSH: On Etymology and Linguistic Originalism 169
AMERICAN DREAM: On Dates 189
NUCLEAR: On Pronunciation 199
NUDE: On Correspondence 216
MARRIAGE: On Authority and the Dictionary 230
EPILOGUE: The Damnedest Thing 255

Acknowledgments 263
Notes 265
Bibliography 275
Index 281
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Review Text

"As a writer, Kory Stamper can do anything with words: define them, split them, lump them, agglute them, and make them work for her every bit as ferociously and precisely as she works for them in her day job as a far from mild-mannered lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. You will never take a dictionary entry for granted again." -Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me

"A love letter to letters themselves... A cheerful and thoughtful rebuke of the cult of the grammar scolds. Stamper [is] a wry and charming correspondent. Word by Word is, like a dictionary itself, a composite affair: It's a memoir that is also an explanation of the work that writing a dictionary entails." -Megan Garber, The Atlantic

"An unlikely page-turner...Stamper displays a contagious enthusiasm for words...Illuminating." -The New Yorker

"Delightful... Informed, irreverent and witty...A gloriously (occasionally even uproariously) well written book, and unsurprisingly erudite. Do read [Word by Word]." -Stevie Godson, New York Journal of Books
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Review quote

"As a writer, Kory Stamper can do anything with words: define them, split them, lump them, agglute them, and make them work for her every bit as ferociously and precisely as she works for them in her day job as a far from mild-mannered lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. You will never take a dictionary entry for granted again." --Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me

"A love letter to letters themselves... A cheerful and thoughtful rebuke of the cult of the grammar scolds. Stamper [is] a wry and charming correspondent. Word by Word is, like a dictionary itself, a composite affair: It's a memoir that is also an explanation of the work that writing a dictionary entails." --Megan Garber, The Atlantic

"An unlikely page-turner...Stamper displays a contagious enthusiasm for words...Illuminating." --The New Yorker "Delightful... Informed, irreverent and witty...A gloriously (occasionally even uproariously) well written book, and unsurprisingly erudite. Do read [Word by Word]." --Stevie Godson, New York Journal of Books
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About Kory Stamper

KORY STAMPER is a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, where she also writes, edits, and appears in the "Ask the Editor" video series. She blogs regularly on language and lexicography at www.korystamper.com, and her writing has appeared in The Guardian and The New York Times, and on Slate.com.
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Rating details

4,210 ratings
4.18 out of 5 stars
5 41% (1,739)
4 41% (1,721)
3 14% (596)
2 3% (116)
1 1% (38)
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