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"Compellingly captures words in all their weirdness and wonder.... The book becomes a moving celebration both of language and of a love that transcends it."
"Delightful...a fitting companion to Elisabeth Murray's Caught in the Web of Words
and Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman
"Well, I doubt there has ever been a better account of how a person with a capacious brain sits down with a cup of tea and a pile of cards and sets about creating authoritative definitions."
—Lynne Truss, New York TimesNew York Times' Paperback Row
"A former chief editor of the dictionary, Simpson reflects on nearly four decades as a gatekeeper of the English language. Along the way, he offers insight into how words come into being and a look at origins of a scattering of words: inkling, deadline, apprenticeship, balderdash."
"The memoir of a lexicographer doesn't sound like an enticing prospect (Johnson's famous definition of lexicographer: a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words'), but Mr. Simpson pulls it off.... An engaging memoir."
—Wall Street Journal
"Although Simpson reports in detail on the practical, finicky business of augmenting and improving the OED
, the human condition is always in view.... A sustained and sincere reflection on what it means to make a dictionary--the toil, the puzzles, the costs and the profits."—Henry Hitchings, Guardian (UK)
"The book is compulsively readable, especially about the work of the dictionary compiler and the qualifications, or rather the skills, required to become one. I could quote reams of Simpson's well-wrought prose."
"The best book yet to reveal what a lifetime spent with words is really like."
—Erin McKean, 20x20