Word by Word
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.

Word by Word Details

TitleWord by Word
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseMar 14th, 2017
PublisherPantheon Books
ISBN110187094X
ISBN-139781101870945
Number of pages320 pages
Rating
GenreHumanities, Language, Nonfiction, Writing

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Word by Word Review

  • Karen
    December 8, 2016
    Two typos and three "snuck"s; otherwise a perfect book for us word nerds.
  • Andréa
    September 29, 2016
    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.