June 22 – June 29, 2006 Edition

Official Dictionary
Of Unofficial English
Makes Debut

Have you been paying attention? You might have noticed that some American companies are getting Bangalored. Perhaps you’ve watched the growing popularity of canine freestyle – or noted the obesity crisis is due in part to the plethora of yumtious foodstuffs.

Are you growing a pudding ring? Do you have a metric buttload of bills to pay? Do you have a problem with gurgitators?

If you know any of these words – or if not knowing them makes you utzy – THE OFFICIAL DICTIONARY OF UNOFFICIAL ENGLISH is your handy guidebook to the crunkest verbiage out there. Lexicographer Grant Barrett has scoured all manner of materials, from popular movies and magazines to weblogs, from the trivial to the wiki, in search of the words or terms teetering on the tipping points of tongues everywhere.

THE OFFICIAL DICTIONARY OF UNOFFICIAL ENGLISH, new from McGraw-Hill, makes a great supplement to one’s everyday dictionary: It contains hundreds of words not yet included in mainstream dictionaries. Its pages include words you can use, not made-up terms worth just a snort. It divulges how dictionary-makers find and track new words.

Inside are dozens of terms from the Iraq war, including sandbox (the Middle East or a country in that region) and Mortarville (a military base subject to regular attack), a slough of political terms like Corrupticut (a derisive or derogatory name for the State of Connecticut), and hundreds of other great words from Spanish, youth-speak, hip-hop, business, and other parts of the American national discourse.

Most of these words are so new they’ve yet to be accounted for in the Oxford English Dictionary or the Historical Dictionary of American Slang, so we’ve got to give props to Mr. Barrett for being so ahead of the curve.

About the Author

Grant Barrett is a lexicographer and project editor for the Historical Dictionary of American Slang for Oxford University Press. He is the founder and editor of the Double-Tongued Word Wrester (, a popular dictionary-oriented website that tracks new words from the fringes of English. He is also a vice president of the academic American Dialect Society and editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Political Slang. Grant lives and works in New York City.