Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Erin McKean  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult; Young Adult;

Born: 1971


-- Erin McKean on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=erin+mckean


Illinois Connection

Ms. McKean lived in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Erin McKean likes to call herself a Dictionary Evangelist. She is the founder of ''Wordnik.com''. She was the editor in chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary, 2e, and is the author of ''Weird and Wonderful Words'', ''More Weird and Wonderful Words'', ''Totally Weird and Wonderful Words'', and ''That's Amore'' (also about words). Her first novel, ''The Secret Lives of Dresses'', was published by GrandCentral/5Spot in February 2011. Her newest book is ''The Hundred Dresses'', a nonfiction field guide to dress archetypes was published in the summer of 2013. She recently moved from Chicago to the Bay Area, rants about dresses on her blog (A Dress A Day), and she's actually really bad at Scrabble (but surprisingly good at roller-skating).


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Verbatim: From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists
ISBN: 015601209X

Mariner Books. 2001

From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists. A brilliant, witty, and engaging compendium on the uses and abuses of the English language.

With bestselling narratives such as The Professor and the Madman to edicts by popular grammar mavens including Pat O'Conner and Barbara Wallraff,
it is clear readers outside of academia are becoming more and more intrigued with language. Founded by legendary lexicographer Lawrence Urdang, for thirty years Verbatim has published amusing and intriguing articles on the English language and the idea of language in general. Here, for the first time, is a collection of Verbatim's greatest hits and wondrous discoveries on concept, usage, jargon, wordplay, linguistics, blunders, malapropisms, and more.

With contributors such as Richard Lederer, Jesse Sheidlower, and Joe Queenan, lexicography heavyweights like Frederick Cassidy and William Kunstler, Verbatim is a smart and sassy collection for anyone seeking the highly scholarly or the completely frivolous. From the uses of language in the Bible to the components of a British soccer chant, this astounding collection is sure to offer something for every language enthusiast and word lover to enjoy.

Weird and Wonderful Words
ISBN: 0195159055

Oxford University Press. 2002

Do you know what a snollygoster is? Do you know anyone who engages in onolatry? Would you eat something called a muktuk? Impress your friends and pepper your dinner party conversations with such nuggets as gobemouche, mumpsimus, and cachinnate. Tie your tongue in knots trying to say such sesquipedalian words as floccinaucinihilipilification or pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. You can learn about all of these bizarre and beautiful words and many more in Weird and Wonderful Words.

Weird and Wonderful Words is a potpourri--a gallimaufry--a salmagundi--a collection of colorful and strange words. Compiled by noted lexicographer Erin McKean, the book contains hundreds of definitions written in a clear and conversational style accompanied by full-page cartoon illustrations by Roz Chast. Featuring hundreds of words guaranteed to amuse and astonish, this is a book that will appeal to logophiles everywhere. It also features a bibliography of Oxford dictionaries and a guide to creating your own unusual words correctly from Greek and Latin roots.

Smart and funny and with just a touch of whimsy, Weird and Wonderful Words is the perfect book for reading in your sitooterie with a bumbo in your hand while mavises sing in your earor something like that.

A sampling of Weird and Wonderful Words:
*Autochthon: a human being born from the soil where he or she lives (like the Biblical Adam). Also used as a synonym for aborigine, it comes from a Greek word meaning sprung from that land itself.
*Camorra: a secret society, usually one breaking the law. This word comes from the name of group that was active in Naples in the nineteenth century.
*Snollygoster: a dishonest politician, especially a shrewd or calculating one. A connection has been proposed between this word and snallygaster, a mythical monster of Maryland, invented to frighten freed slaves. However, the first evidence for snallygaster follows snollygoster by about a hundred years, making a connection (in this direction, at least) unlikely.
*Tigon: the hybrid offspring of a male tiger and a lioness. A liger is the offspring produced by a male lion and a tigress.

More Weird and Wonderful Words
ISBN: 0195170571

Oxford University Press. 2003

Wouldn't you like to use proctomorph in your everyday conversation--or at least feel as if you could? How about singerie? Or rememble?
Following the smash hit Weird and Wonderful Words, editor Erin McKean has dug deeper into forgotten corners of the dictionary gathering both the most spectacular old and the most impressive new words. The result is more than four hundred prime specimens (with pronunciations!), defined in a conversational style and perfect for adding to your own collection of favorites.
Guaranteed to amuse and astonish, accompanied by full-page illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Danny Shanahan, these words will appeal to logophiles everywhere. In addition to its wonderful offerings, the book also features a guide to finding new words, a guide to the best word websites, and an annotated bibliography of essential Oxford dictionaries.
More Weird and Wonderful Words:
anopisthograph: something that has writing on only one side (usually paper, although you could pedantically use this for things like t-shirts or billboards). Anopisthography is the practice of writing on only one side of something, a policy disdained by those who know how to make that 1-to-2 button on the copy machine work. (Opisthography is the practice of writing on both sides.) (from Greek words that mean "written on the back or cover.")

mesonoxian: of or related to midnight. "What are your mesonoxian plans?" sounds so much better on Dec. 31 than "Hey, whatcha doin' tonight?"

ichoglan: a page waiting in the palace of the Sultan. (from Turkish words that mean "interior" and "young man."). In this definition, 'waiting' obviously means 'serving,' but it's so much more poetic to understand it as 'to stay in expectation of.' What is he waiting FOR? Alas, the Sultan has fled, and we will never know.

Totally Weird and Wonderful Words
ISBN: 0195312120

Oxford University Press. 2006

Do you know what a snollygoster is? Would you eat something called a muktuk? Do you know anyone who engages in onolatry? Impress your friends and pepper your dinner party conversations with such nuggets as gobemouche, mumpsimus, and cachinnate. You can learn about all of these bizarre and beautiful words and many more in Totally Weird and Wonderful Words.

Both witty and entertaining, this new paperback brings together two best-selling compendiums to all words unique and strange, Weird and Wonderful Words and More Weird and Wonderful Words. Offering a potpourri of colorful and fascinating words compiled by noted lexicographer Erin McKean, it contains hundreds of definitions, and has been updated to include two new essays, with over 150 words new to this edition. Written in a clear and conversational style, the book contains full-page cartoon illustrations by Roz Chast and Danny Shanahan. Featuring hundreds of words guaranteed to amuse and astonish, this is a book that will appeal to logophiles everywhere. It also features a bibliography of Oxford dictionaries and a guide to creating your own unusual words correctly from Greek and Latin roots.

Smart and funny and with just a touch of whimsy, Totally Weird and Wonderful Words is the perfect book for reading in your sitooterie with a bumbo in your hand while mavises sing in your ear.

That's Amore!: The Language of Love for Lovers of Language
ISBN: 0802715974

Walker Books. 2007

Love is a defining human quality, one that is inherent to all cultures. Expressions of love are powerful and magical, wherever you live and whatever language you speak.

That's Amore! is a captivating collection of the language of love from around the globe, celebrating the universality as well as the diversity of this most sought-after state. Embracing more than 50 languages, learn how the French flirt and the Danes date. Discover that while both the French and the Italians are thunder-struck by love coup de foudre and colpo di fulmine respectively, the Spanish are hit with Cupid's arrow fue flechazo. In Greece, you will be well served to understand the meanings behind the five types of love

philia, eros, agape, storge and xenia.

Cleverly arranged by the stages of love―Love at First Sight, Flirting and Flattery, Declarations of Love, Terms of Endearment, and Lifelong Love and Intimacy―Christopher J. Moore once again enchants linguaphiles with his unique style. Including feature pages of customs of love from around the world, learn the history and etiquette of the kiss, Cupid and mythology, the symbolism of love and the language of flowers. Surprising, eclectic, and endearing, this book is the perfect gift for your lover and any lover of words.

The Secret Lives of Dresses
ISBN: 044655572X

5 Spot. 2011

Dora has always taken the path of least resistance. She went to the college that offered her a scholarship, is majoring in "vagueness studies," and wears whatever shows the least dirt. She falls into a job at the college coffee shop, and a crush on her flirty boss, Gary.

Just when she's about to test Gary's feelings, Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke. Dora rushes back home to Forsyth, NC, and finds herself running her grandmother's vintage clothing store. The store has always been a fixture in Dora's life

though she grew up more of a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of girl, before she even knew how to write, Mimi taught her that a vintage 1920s dress could lift a woman's spirit.

While working there, Dora befriends Mimi's adorable contractor, Conrad. Is he after Dora, or is working from a different blueprint? And why did Mimi start writing down--and giving away--stories of the dresses in her shop?

When Mimi dies, Dora can't get out of town fast enough and cedes control of the store to her money-hungry aunt who wants to turn it into a t-shirt shop for tourists. But ultimately, she returns to Forsyth, willing to battle whatever may stand in the way of her staying there. Dora can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants?

The Hundred Dresses: The Most Iconic Styles of Our Time
ISBN: 1608199762

Bloomsbury USA. 2013

The dress is the last bit of femininity in our closets

it's the only item of clothing which (most) men and women don't share. Wearing a dress is a powerful way for women to express themselves--and every style conveys a different message. Inspired by the Eleanor Estes' children's classic The Hundred Dresses, Erin McKean's classic-to-be by the same title, with chic illustrations by Donna Mehalko, is a definitive look at the dresses, vintage and modern, that make an inarguable statement about the woman who wears them.

Each evocatively illustrated entry identifies one of a hundred different dresses accompanied by a witty and informative look at the history of that particular style, famous wearers (if applicable), and what message, subtle or overt, is conveyed by the dress. Notes on where such a style could be observed and accessories of the wearer are also included.

Featured are The Wench

The Sari

The Vreeland

The Wrap

The Austen

The Beckham

The Siren (any style, as long as it's red)

The Chanel Ingenue

The Caftan

The Guinivere

The Jackie

The Slip Dress

The Biohazard (any dress dangerous to bystanders or the wearer: think Lady Gaga)

and scores more. The book also includes a suggested reading list of fashion books, dresses from literature, and an index.

Part style commentary, part fashion blueprint, part clever field guide, The Hundred Dresses will ensure that no woman (or man) ever underestimates the power of the dress.


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