Bio

Grant Barrett is radio host, public speaker, lexicographer and journalist.

He is co-host of the language-related public radio show A Way with Words, independently produced in and distributed from San Diego and broadcast each week to hundreds of thousands of listeners in the United States, Canada, and around the world.

He is also an American lexicographer and dictionary editor specializing in slang and new words. He compiled and edited the Official Dictionary of Unofficial English (2006, McGraw-Hill) and the Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang (2004, Oxford University Press), and is creator of the prize-winning online Double-Tongued Dictionary which tracks slang, jargon, and neologisms from the fringes of English (but has now been merged with the A Way with Words website). He is also a co-founder of Wordnik, an online dictionary.

He has contributed to dozens of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries in the English-speaking world, including serving as project editor of the four-volume Historical Dictionary of American Slang (2003-2006, Oxford University Press). He has contributed as a lexicographer to the Cambridge Dictionary of American English (second edition, 2008), the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary (2008), the Collins British English Advanced Dictionary (2008), Collins Cobuild English/Japanese Dictionary of Advanced English (2008), the Collins Spanish Intermediate Dictionary (2008), the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (first edition, 2004), the New Oxford American Dictionary (2001, first edition, and 2005, second edition), the Concise Oxford American Thesaurus (2006), and the Concise Oxford American Dictionary (2006).

Besides being widely quoted about language, Grant has written about it for such newspapers as the Washington Post and the New York Times, has contributed to the British book series The Language Report, and is a public speaker about language, dictionaries and slang. He has also written for the Malaysia Star, the journal and website Copyediting, and has worked as a business and music journalist for dailies and weeklies. He first started working in radio and print journalism in 1988.

He serves as vice president of the American Dialect Society, an academic organization devoted since 1889 to the study of English in North America. He has been the chair of its New Words Committee, has edited the “Among the New Words” column of the society’s journal American Speech, has served as a member of the journal’s editorial review board, and still helps organize the society’s annual “word of the year” vote.

He is also a member of the Dictionary Society of North America and the Linguistic Society of America.

Grant serves on the boards of the nonprofit Wayword, Inc., which produces and distributes A Way with Words, and of San Diego Writers, Ink, which fosters a literary community. He also advises companies which make smartphone apps.

He also handles marketing for the San Diego Museum of Man.

Formerly, Grant was the engagement editor for voiceofsandiego.org, an innovative nonprofit online-only newspaper. He was responsible for increasing online and offline awareness of its content and bringing community commentary, opinion and insight into its pages.

Grant holds a degree in French from Columbia University and has studied at the Université Paris Diderot.

Though born and raised in Missouri, Grant has lived at length in New York City, Paris, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and now lives in sunny California with his wife — a linguist/lexicographer — and their young son.

You can get photos of Grant Barrett here to use in your publicity materials, programs, schedules, website, etc. His current bio is always the one on this page.