Hachette Book Group’s privacy policy has been updated effective September 28, 2017. You can read the updated policy here. You can also email any questions to HBG-Privacy@hbgusa.com.

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, analyze site traffic, personalize content, and serve targeted advertisements. You can find out more or switch them off if you prefer here. By continuing to use the site without changing settings, you consent to our use of cookies.

The Word Detective

The Word Detective

Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary


“A charmingly full, frank, and humorous account of a career dedicated to rigorous lexicographic rectitude. . . .[John Simpson] is an absolute hero.” –Lynne Truss, New York Times


Can you drink a glass of balderdash? And what do you call the part of a dog’s back it can’t scratch? The answers to these questions can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary. There is no better guide to the dictionary’s many wonderments than its former chief editor, John Simpson. In The Word Detective, an intensely personal memoir and a joyful celebration of English, he weaves a story of how words come into being, how culture shapes language, and how technology transforms words. A brilliant and deeply humane expedition through the world of words, The Word Detective will delight and inspire any lover of language.

Read More

Genre: Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs

On Sale: October 17th 2017

Price: $16.99

Page Count: 400

ISBN-13: 9781541697218

What's Inside

Read More Read Less

Praise

"Compellingly captures words in all their weirdness and wonder.... The book becomes a moving celebration both of language and of a love that transcends it."—Observer (UK)
"Delightful...a fitting companion to Elisabeth Murray's Caught in the Web of Words and Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman."—Providence Journal
"Well, I doubt there has ever been a better account of how a person with a capacious brain sits down with a cup of tea and a pile of cards and sets about creating authoritative definitions."—Lynne Truss, New York Times
"The memoir of a lexicographer doesn't sound like an enticing prospect (Johnson's famous definition of lexicographer: a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words'), but Mr. Simpson pulls it off.... An engaging memoir."—Wall Street Journal
"Although Simpson reports in detail on the practical, finicky business of augmenting and improving the OED, the human condition is always in view.... A sustained and sincere reflection on what it means to make a dictionary--the toil, the puzzles, the costs and the profits."—Henry Hitchings, Guardian (UK)
"The book is compulsively readable, especially about the work of the dictionary compiler and the qualifications, or rather the skills, required to become one. I could quote reams of Simpson's well-wrought prose."—
Oxford Times
"The best book yet to reveal what a lifetime spent with words is really like."—Erin McKean, 20x20