Erin McKean

  • CEO, Wordnik.com
    Former editor, American Oxford Dictionary

Erin McKean's Presentations

PopTech 2008 October 2008

The Logophile’s Boot Camp: It’s not every day you get to make up words, then have them vetted (or not) by someone who actually puts words into dictionaries. Erin wove a fascinating story of the English language, and how we know the origins of... More

The Logophile’s Boot Camp: It’s not every day you get to make up words, then have them vetted (or not) by someone who actually puts words into dictionaries. Erin wove a fascinating story of the English language, and how we know the origins of many words, but most remain a mystery. She gave a crash course on the history of the word “nice”, which has meant at various times stupid; promiscuous; extravagant; delicate; over-refined; dainty; cultured; and pleasant. That’s a lot of history for a word with four letters.

Erin taught that English was recognized as a distinct language in 449, what emphatic in-fixing is (dropping a word in the middle of a sentence like “abso-flipping-lutely”), and that catachresis is not a disease, it’s when a new word is created by mistake. We learned there are websites devoted to documenting eggcorns, which are the resultant words from catachresis, and snow clones (when you swap out one word for another in a common phrase such as “X is the new Y”).

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TED2007 March 2007

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Redefining the dictionary: Is the beloved paper dictionary doomed to extinction? In this infectiously exuberant talk, leading lexicographer Erin McKean looks at the many ways today's print dictionary is poised for transformation.

Redefining the dictionary: Is the beloved paper dictionary doomed to extinction? In this infectiously exuberant talk, leading lexicographer Erin McKean looks at the many ways today's print dictionary is poised for transformation.

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Poptech 2006 October 2006

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Dictionaries made cool: Self-proclaimed word geek Erin McKean, editor-in-chief of U.S. Dictionaries for Oxford University Press, is on a mission to debunk common misconceptions and elevate the use—and cool factor—of dictionaries. And what’s... More

Dictionaries made cool: Self-proclaimed word geek Erin McKean, editor-in-chief of U.S. Dictionaries for Oxford University Press, is on a mission to debunk common misconceptions and elevate the use—and cool factor—of dictionaries. And what’s this about dictionaries being “the vodka of literature”?

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Gel 2006 May 2006

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Your daily lexicographer quota: Words rock... and so does this lexicographer. At the time of this talk, Erin was serving as editor-in-chief of The New Oxford American Dictionary - and here she describes the process of making, and editing, the words in the dictionary. Well worth watching.

Your daily lexicographer quota: Words rock... and so does this lexicographer. At the time of this talk, Erin was serving as editor-in-chief of The New Oxford American Dictionary - and here she describes the process of making, and editing, the words in the dictionary. Well worth watching.

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