Book News, Kory News, And No Political News Whatsoever

Seven days.

We live our lives from milestone to milestone, and sometimes we hold an upcoming milestone in our hands like a lucky penny, where we can rub our thumbs over it again and again, in secret joy. Seven days!

My debut book, Word by Word, will be out in the real world in seven days.

Most of you know this, because you have suffered through countless non-dictionary blog posts about it, but for those of you who don’t know, I’ve set up a blog page about the book, and I’ve updated my travel page so you can find out where I’ll be reading and plan a road trip to ask me why I am single-handedly destroying the English language. If you want up-to-date information on where I’ll be and which stores I have visited and left secretly vandalized signed copies of my book, sign up for my newsletter, which shows up in your inbox with blessed infrequency.

In order to accommodate a book tour (!!!), I’ve taken a short leave of absence from Merriam-Webster, which means there will be a paucity of “Answers I Wish I Could Send” posts until June. But the extra time means I can finally finish the dozen-odd draft blog posts that have been sitting here since 2015, which is when this book jawn began.

Careful readers will note that I said “debut book,” and not just “book,” and that’s because I’m working on a second nonfiction book, which will be published in a few years (Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise). Yes, that’s right: the first one didn’t kill me, so I’m willing to try again.

None of this would have been possible had it not been for you, my original cadre of word nerds, who carved time out of their day to read (and sometimes heckle, Kevin) over-long posts here. Y’all are the best, and I hope I get to meet you and sign your book.

Stay tuned for actual content! And thank you.



Filed under book, general, in the flesh appearing

35 responses to “Book News, Kory News, And No Political News Whatsoever

  1. Looking forward to having a copy of the book in my hands! Congratulations!

  2. I’m sure you’ve already said this somewhere, but will you be heading out west at some point? I bet there are a lot of people in the Linguistics and English Language Department at BYU who’d love to hear you speak.

    • Kory Stamper

      I’m hoping to get further out west later this summer or fall, and if I can finagle that, BYU will deffers be on the speaking list!

      • Fernando

        “Further” is used in the figurative sense. Moreover; in addition; to a greater extent.

        “Farther” refers to physical distance only.
        E.g., you can further, (advance) a project, but you can’t farther a project

        • Kory Stamper

          Oh my goodness: are you trying to grammar-shame me? Oh dear. No one told you I have no shame.

          My use of “further” is fine. See the usage paragraph here:

          • Fernando

            Thanks for the response. The link you submitted says, ” But where there is no notion of distance, further is used (our techniques can be further refined). Further is also used as a sentence modifier (further, the workshop participants were scarcely optimistic — L. B. Mayhew), but farther is not. A polarizing process appears to be taking place in their adjective use. Farther is taking over the meaning of distance (the farther shore) and further the meaning of addition (needed no further invitation).”

            Your usage of “further” was for distance; I think “farther” would have been more appropriate.

  3. Jim Shea

    Hi Kory,

    I’m sure you have thought of this, but I’ll add my 2 cents. It might be interesting thought for your 2nd book (or perhaps a chapter or two) to cover some of the bizarre comments and suggestions for improvement you guys receive at Merriam. I worked on Federal St. from 1971 to 1979 (specializing in the physical sciences) and we received many strange ideas for improving our dictionaries. My personal favorite was from an amateur scientist/cartographer who asked that, some place in the Collegiate (site unspecified), we include the fact:

    “The shortest distance between any two points on the earth’s surface is a straight line through Winnipeg.”

    He swore that it was a tested and indisputable truism. I thanked him for sharing the information but could never find the proper home for it.

    Jim Shea

  4. Y

    Is that the Century Dictionary (my favorite old dictionary) in the background on the cover?

  5. Hery Kory…good luck with the book tour!
    You used one of my favorite phrases: “Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise.” But is it about a body of water, or a bunch of Indians? I took a crack at it in my own word blog some time back.

  6. Patricia Johnston

    Your book amazing! I read it cover to cover in 24 hours and am now going through it a second time to appreciate all the details. I think you may have already inspired me to be more aware of words. In travelling just few blocks through a suburban locale today I noticed a new store opening named Food Terminus, and a van marked Multi Family Pest Control.

  7. Patricia Johnston

    I seem to have lost the ability to type. Your book “is” amazing and travelling just “a” few blocks.

  8. Ignacio Gomez Montejo

    Dear Ms Stamper,
    Even tough not a native English speaker, I have enjoyed a lot your book, both because it is very interesting, quite educational, for me at least, and very funny (hella funny, if I can say that).
    But let me add some nitpicking: near the end of the Posh chapter you write that “French and Continental Spanish both have academies…that issue edicts… and dictionaries”. Who are those Continental Spanish? Majorca and the Canary Islands are, well, islands, while our “official dictionary” is produced by the cooperation of 23 academies from different countries, the US among them. Spain (continental or whole) is just a small part of the Spanish speaking world.

  9. David Deutsch

    Kory, many new words added to dictionaries these days are actually two words. An example is the word “hot mess.” Do these two-word combos have a particular name in dictionary speak? Is it grammatically correct to refer to “hot mess” as a word instead of words? Enjoying your book.

  10. Totally enjoying the book.

    I have been obliged to embrace “irregardless”, although I doubt I will ever use it properly.

    Does M-W have a dictionary that defines “business end”?

  11. Doris

    I suggest you do a book signing in West Hartford, CT., the home of Noah Webster. There is a Noah Webster House, a Noah Webster Library, and a Barnes and Noble in between.

  12. Could you check out whether the term ‘word’ intended to describe ‘a letter or cluster of letters that conforms to a set of rules’ is found in the corpus? I’m a pretty hardcore descriptivist; I get that dictionaries don’t establish standardization on their own, but are often used for that purpose by games, puzzles, classrooms, etc. Could it not be that users of the word ‘word’ is meant by them (them, being people proposing that a word exists that is the answer to a puzzle, test, playable game move, etc) at the time, to refer to a word with a certain set of limitations that exclude proper names or otherwise-capitalized, plurals, etc.?

    For instance, it is popular to propose that there is no ‘word’ that rhymes with orange, but replies with ‘Blorenge’ in the UK are met, in my experience, with ‘but that is a proper noun.’ Other quizzes and word puzzles suggest that a valid word for play is one such with these limitations, and by-and-large the general public who supposes dictionaries are prescriptive use ‘word’ to mean ‘a letter or cluster of letters’, ‘which conforms to limitations “the dictionary” prescribes’ even if/when the dictionary does not actually prescribe.

    Much like how the meanings of the entry for ‘marriage’ was argued to have been ‘changed’ to prescriptively include ‘alternative’ types due to political pressure, but was truly altered due to an increase of observed usage of ‘marriage’ in the contexts described — I suspect adding the idea that a ‘word’ observed to mean one ‘with a series of limitations’ as proposed, might reinforce the notion that dictionaries are prescriptive, despite merely describing observations about usage. I would have assumed this expression of a false belief is common enough to be found described there..

  13. Marianne Darke Harrison

    Thank you for your book! Loved it.

  14. I thoroughly enjoyed your book, thank you very much for writing it. There are some things in there that needed to be said, and I’ll relax now about “it’s” vs. “its”. I literally[1] lol’ed and woke up my sleeping family more times than was appropriate. You have a new fan.

    [1] Sense 1.

  15. Corbin

    Reading WbW wbw and enjoying the rich stew of mots mostly justes –but is there a word missing on page 19 in the first sentence of the first complete paragraph, beginning “nowhere else “?

  16. Bill

    I’m new to this place, so I don’t know your background. However, since you used the strictly Southern word “y’all,” I must assume you’re from south of the M-D Line. Yes? Or has “y’all” migrated?

  17. Marc Schiavone

    As a science writer and instructor, i appreciate the challenges of wordcrafting as you describe in WORD BY WORD. The science of words is potentially as tedious as the words of science. Your key is in revealing the beauty of the ordinary (precisely my objective as I describe the workings of a cell, a muscle, or a kidney). Thank you!

  18. Wendy

    I am loving Word by Word. I just finished the chapter in which you define AWOL as absent without leave. I believe that it is short for absent without official leave.
    Look it up!

  19. donna

    Just heard your Big Think interview. Listen to that podcast a lot and had never heard of you. Have also never that host be that perky before.

  20. Anonymou

    Everyone wants to play “Katch Kory” and win! Good luck!

  21. I love the dictionary-esk entries on your sidebar that are links disguised as words in the dictionary! Very clever!

  22. Donny

    Thoroughly enjoyed every page. Do write another non-fiction book. I’ll just imagine that you’d visit Australia.

  23. I just finished the book. My only complaint is that it’s too short. Great work!

  24. John W Morrison

    I received Word by Word for Father’s Day.
    I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for a thoughtful, informative, entertaining book.
    I cannot imagine how hard it would be to write something so technical with as much clarity and humor as you have.
    John Morrison Winchester, VA.

  25. Robert Miller

    I thoroughly enjoyed your account of the tribulations and rewards of the life of a word addict. Many years ago, I spent two years myself engaging in the drudgery of lexicography when I did my dissertation for a doctorate in eighteenth-century English literature by reading and categorizing Johnson’s 1755 dictionary, word by word. I bought two copies of the two-volume, folio facsimile and proceeded to cut them up, organizing the words first into broad categories by subject—such as science, literature, art, and so on—and then sub-categorizing those. When I finished, I had a room full of labeled boxes of words. Then I organized each category and wrote an introduction to it, discussing the words and Johnson’s sources and citations. So I had a peek at what you must do every day.

    I had one problem with your book. As a logophile, I keep a dictionary handy (The 11th Collegiate in the small Franklin digital edition) and keep a list of new words I encounter (I have done that since somewhere back in my teens). To my surprise, when I looked up the following words in Word by Word, they were not listed (Nor are they listed on the Merriam-Webster site online). I had to google them.

    ouroboros p. 151

    randos p. 166

    pappadum p. 216

    faffing p. 247

  26. Kory, I only learned of you and your wonderful book when I read a review (in the NYT?). I recently finished it, having enjoyed every page. However, since I am an engineering geek in addition to being a word geek, I feel obliged to report an error. You are wrong in a footnote on page 220. A manhole and its cover are circular because that is the only shape in which it is impossible for the cover to fall into the hole. I await the next book with bated breath. 🙂

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