By Dan Moren
September 30, 2019 10:05 AM PT
We Like: Word for Word
If you are a word nerd1 like me, the dictionary probably holds a special place in your heart. When I was growing up, we had a giant Webster’s dictionary with those little half-moon cutouts in the pages to let you quickly flip to each letter. It was the kind of massive thing that really deserves its own place of honor on one of those spinning lecterns and it held a sort of authoritative position in the house. Whenever I wanted to know the meaning of a word my librarian parents encouraged me to go haul it out and look it up for myself. Seem like a lot of work? Maybe, but it reinforced in me a lifelong love of words.
And, as a result of that love, one category of non-fiction that I always find myself delving into is books about words and language. Kory Stamper’s Word for Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries is the latest in a long, delightful line of works on my bookshelf about this ill-shapen, mixed-up glob that we call English: a language so ugly you can’t help but love it even as it frustrates the hell out of you.…