Allen Walker Read

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Allen Walker Read (June[1] 2,[2][3] 1906 – October 16, 2002) was an American etymologist and lexicographer, best known for his studies into the words "OK" and "fuck."

Read was born in Winnebago, Minnesota, earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa (then called Iowa State Teachers College) in 1925, a master's degree from the University of Iowa in 1926, and studied at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar from 1928 to 1931. He was a chaired professor at Columbia University in New York City from 1945 until 1975.[2] He was a past president of the Semiotic Society of America (1980).

He was a repeated contributor to American Speech by 1931; his first extended work, Lexical Evidence from Folk Epigraphy in Western North America: A Glossarial Study of the Low Element in the English Vocabulary, was privately published in Paris in 1935 since its description of bathroom graffiti was considered too racy for American publishers.[citation needed] It was eventually published in the United States in 1977, under the title Classic American Graffiti, ISBN 0-916500-06-3.

He married Charlotte Schuchardt in 1953. They remained together until she died in July 2002. He died in New York City three months later.[1] They had no children.[3]


  1. ^ a b Who Was Who in North American Name Study, American Name Society, accessed February 15, 2007.
  2. ^ a b The Times, November 8, 2002, obituary.
  3. ^ a b Luther, Claudia (January 12, 2011). "Obituaries. ALLEN WALKER READ, 96, 'OK' ETYMOLOGIST". South Coast Today. Retrieved July 3, 2017.

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