Inspirational Quotes from Erin McKean

By | July 20, 2017

For me, conferences are like little mental vacations: a chance to go visit an interesting place for a couple of days, and come back rested and refreshed with new ideas and perspectives.

Erin McKean

People say jargon is a bad thing, but it’s really a shortcut vocabulary professionals use to understand one another.

Erin McKean

If you’re talking about how you promoted synergy in an organization, that could mean you just got everybody together for donuts twice a week.

Erin McKean

Uniforms are intended to make the wearer look as strong as possible. Soldiers could fight in leotards, but that’s never going to happen because leotards aren’t intimidating.

Erin McKean

All words have life cycles.

Erin McKean

Almost any word can be drafted to serve as a verb, even words we think of as eternal and unchanging, stuck in their more traditional roles.

Erin McKean

‘Aging’ has been bad ever since we figured out it led to dying.

Erin McKean

Words take on many different meanings.

Erin McKean

We’ve been using ‘rejuvenate,’ meaning to restore youth, to make young again, as a verb for at least 200 years.

Erin McKean

If you say ‘anti-aging,’ how anti would it have to be, really? My guess is not much. Any amount of sunscreen could be considered anti-aging.

Erin McKean

There are very few good ways to get publicity for a dictionary.

Erin McKean

All language is a popularity contest.

Erin McKean

What I’m interested in is how people are reading and writing English.

Erin McKean

Language is a nice way to remember things.

Erin McKean

If words are doing their job, then their novelty will not be the most noticeable thing about them.

Erin McKean

It’s difficult to choose a Word of the Year in the year that you’re in. It’s one of those things that hindsight makes more apparent. It’s like looking at pictures from 10 years ago, and you notice the flannel and the ripped jeans. At the time, it didn’t look to you like a real fashion trend.

Erin McKean

I think we would all like to believe that every new event demands a new word. But we’re environmentally conscious with our words. We recycle words we’ve got.

Erin McKean

Writers who hedge their use of unfamiliar, infrequent, or informal words with ‘I know that’s not a real word,’ hoping to distance themselves from criticism, run the risk of creating doubt where perhaps none would have naturally arisen.

Erin McKean

Part of the joy and pleasure of English is its boundless creativity: I can describe a new machine as bicyclish, I can say that I’m vitamining myself to stave off a cold, I can complain that someone is the smilingest person I’ve ever seen, and I can decide, out of the blue, that ‘fetch’ is now the word I want to use to mean ‘cool.’

Erin McKean

Most consumers don’t have a good metric for deciding on whether the dictionary they want to use is a good one… so they flip the book over, then go to the back, and it says, ‘Over 250,000 entries.’ And they go, ‘Great, this dictionary must be awesome!’

Erin McKean

There are hundreds of thousands of words that aren’t in any print dictionary today… because there’s no space for all of them.

Erin McKean

We think people go to a dictionary to find out what a word means. Most people go to the dictionary because they don’t want to look stupid.

Erin McKean

Ideally my goal is, before I die, to have some information about every word that’s ever been used in print.

Erin McKean

Objections to verbification in English tend to be motivated by personal taste, not clarity. Verbed words are usually easily understood. When a word like ‘friend’ is declared not a verb, the problem isn’t that it’s confusing; it’s that the protester finds it deeply annoying.

Erin McKean

Twitter has already birthed an entire ecosystem of other sites that extend its power or interact with it. But Twitter isn’t just a platform for technological innovation: It’s showing signs as an engine of creativity for the language, too.

Erin McKean

Twitter is like overhearing people’s conversations, which is exactly what dictionary editors have been wishing we could do for years.

Erin McKean

You can limit the number of invitations to an in-person fashion show, but you can’t police the Internet.

Erin McKean

Lexicographers are language reporters.

Erin McKean

Words are so lovable. How could you not love words?

Erin McKean

By the time the traditionally male lexicographers become interested in looking at fashion words, their origins are lost in the mists of time.

Erin McKean

The use of food metaphors is really well established English… Somebody is a peach, a hot tamale.

Erin McKean

A love letter is to be savored; a love email… is to be forwarded to all your friends, and probably laughed at.

Erin McKean

Most of the words you know and love and use every day are not words you learned by looking them up in a dictionary and reading a definition.

Erin McKean

If anything is guaranteed to annoy a lexicographer, it is the journalistic habit of starting a story with a dictionary definition.

Erin McKean

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