Kory Stamper

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Kory Stamper is a lexicographer (that is, a writer and editor of dictionaries) at Merriam-Webster (the dictionary). She has written and appeared in the "Ask the Editor" video series at Merriam-Webster, and has traveled around the world giving talks and lectures on language and lexicography. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including The Washington Post, The Guardian and The New York Times. A medievalist by training, she knows a number of languages, most of them dead. She drinks more coffee and owns more dictionaries than is good for anyone. ...more

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Kory Stamper Another book! The first one didn't do me in, so we'll try again. This one is about color, and the more I write and research, the more excited I get to…moreAnother book! The first one didn't do me in, so we'll try again. This one is about color, and the more I write and research, the more excited I get to share it with all y'all.(less)
Kory Stamper Thanks for your kind words about the book!

Alas, I am a lousy American, though I natively use "kerfuffle" and "towards," which are supposedly British …more
Thanks for your kind words about the book!

Alas, I am a lousy American, though I natively use "kerfuffle" and "towards," which are supposedly British English. So maybe I'm intuitively British?(less)
Average rating: 4.19 · 6,978 ratings · 1,402 reviews · 1 distinct workSimilar authors
Word by Word: The Secret Li...

4.19 avg rating — 6,978 ratings — published 2017 — 11 editions
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“We think of English as a fortress to be defended, but a better analogy is to think of English as a child. We love and nurture it into being, and once it gains gross motor skills, it starts going exactly where we don't want it to go: it heads right for the goddamned electrical sockets. We dress it in fancy clothes and tell it to behave, and it comes home with its underwear on its head and wearing someone else's socks. As English grows, it lives its own life, and this is right and healthy. Sometimes English does exactly what we think it should; sometimes it goes places we don't like and thrives there in spite of all our worrying. We can tell it to clean itself up and act more like Latin; we can throw tantrums and start learning French instead. But we will never really be the boss of it. And that's why it flourishes.”
Kory Stamper, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries

“English has a lot of synonyms for “fool” or “idiot.” Perhaps you take this to mean that English speakers are mean-spirited; I simply reply that necessity is the mother of invention.”
Kory Stamper, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries

“When a lexicographer says “unless…” in the middle of defining, you should turn out the lights and go home, first making sure you’ve left them a supply of water and enough nonperishable food to last several days. “Unless…” almost always marks the beginning of a wild lexical goose chase.”
Kory Stamper, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries

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