Laurence Urdang, VERBATIM’s founding editor and one of the most prolific lexicographers of the English language, died August 21, in Connecticut.

Here is the link to The New York Times obituary; Ben Zimmer posts about Larry on Language Log; and I think the best obituary is the one in the London Times, here.

I owe Larry a tremendous personal debt, which, even if he had lived to 181, I could never have begun to repay. When VERBATIM was sold and turned into a non-profit, with a very young lexicographer of children’s dictionaries (as I was then) installed as the new editor, he couldn’t have been more gracious. He answered all my (often very dumb) questions, and told me many marvelous anecdotes along the way (most of which I should not share).

The next issue of VERBATIM will be slightly (more) delayed so that I can insert a few pages of the “Best of Urdang”; subscribers who would like to send personal reminiscences should do so via email to

If you would like to send condolences to Larry’s family, please email me at the address above and I will be happy to forward messages or to send you an address for letters and cards. The family has requested no flowers; if you would like to make a tangible remembrance, I suggest donating a copy of Larry’s last book, The Last Word, to your local library in his name.

Here is a link to a semi-scathing review of The Feminist Dictionary, which Larry wrote for Vol. XIII/2, one of my favorites (and I say this as a feminist). His voice will be missed …


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