How a dictionary writer defines English

Kory Stamper works for Merriam-Webster. So how does a dictionary writer define the language? Vox's Phil Edwards found out in this episode of Vox Almanac.

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Dictionaries don't just appear. People have to write them. At Merriam-Webster, one of those people is Kory Stamper.

The history of dictionaries involves a lot more than just looking at words. Lexicographers have to pore through hundreds of years of documents to understand where English has been and is going. Defining English, both for vocabulary and grammar, is a daunting task that Stamper tackles every day.

It opens into a wider grammatical debate as well, between prescriptivism and descriptivism, which pits two philosophies against each other. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.

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