Erin McKean says her professional goal is to make every word in the English language “lookupable.”
It’s unlikely your bag of books for summer reading includes a dictionary, but word lovers –and Scrabble players – can certainly spend plenty of time curled up with one.
Dictionaries have stood in the vanguard of publishing ever since the first English dictionary appeared in 1604, according to Erin McKean, the founder of Wordnik.com, the world’s biggest online dictionary. McKean says her professional goal is to make every word in the English language “lookupable” – including the more than half of all unique English words that aren’t currently in any dictionary.
“It turns out that most of the words you’ve learned in your lifetime you’ve never looked up in a dictionary,” McKean said last winter in a keynote speech at the PubWest 2017 Conference in Portland, Oregon. “Most people get a general idea of what a word means largely from context. The dictionary is usually the last resort when you can’t figure out what a word means or when you want to win an argument.”