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Jonathon Green

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Jonathon Green (born 20 April 1948 in Kidderminster, Worcestershire) is an English lexicographer of slang and writer on the history of alternative cultures. Jonathon Green is often referred to as the English-speaking world's leading lexicographer of slang,[1] and has even been described as "the most acclaimed British lexicographer since Johnson".[2]

Life and career[edit]

Of Jewish origin,[3] Green was educated at Bedford School (1961–1965) and Brasenose College, Oxford (1966–1969) where he read history.[3]

His published books have primarily focussed on sixties counterculture. After publishing All Dressed Up: The Sixties and the Counterculture (1998) he was taken to court for libel by both former Beatle George Harrison and artist Caroline Coon, and was withdrawn for 12 months.[3] In June 2000, Coon received damages of £40,000, plus £33,000 costs, from publisher Random House, and received an official apology from Green for making false claims.[4] The book was later republished with the libellous passages removed.[5]

Authority on slang[edit]

The single-volume Chambers Slang Dictionary (Chambers Harrap) was first published in 1998; a second edition appeared in October 2008.

Green's most substantial work in this field is Green's Dictionary of Slang: a three volume slang work which traces, via examples and citations drawn from the last five centuries, the history of the slang vocabulary from the earliest use of every term. It was awarded the 2012 Dartmouth Medal – an annual award from the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) recognizing the most outstanding reference work of the year.


  • Newspeak: A Dictionary of Jargon (1983)
  • The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang (1984, 1992, 1995)
  • The Slang Thesaurus (1986, 1999)
  • The A–Z of Nuclear Jargon (1986)
  • The Dictionary of Jargon (1987 RKP)
  • Neologisms: A Dictionary of Contemporary Coinages (1991)
  • Slang Down the Ages: The Historical Development of Slang (1993)
  • Words Apart: The Language of Prejudice (1996)
  • Chasing The Sun: Dictionary-Makers and the Dictionaries They Made (1996)
  • Cassell Dictionary of Slang (1998, 2005)
  • Big Book of Filth (1999)
  • Big Book of Being Rude (2000)
  • Big Book of Bodily Functions (2001)
  • Talking Dirty: A Slang Phrasebook (2003)
  • The Stories of Slang (2017)
  • Sounds and Furies: The Love-Hate Relationship between Women and Slang (2019)
  • Famous Last Words (1979, 1997)
  • Contemporary Dictionary of Quotations (1982)
  • The Cynics' Lexicon (1984)
  • Cassell Dictionary of Insulting Quotations (1996 Cassell, p/b 1997)
  • Days In The Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961–1971 (1988)
  • Them: Voices from the Immigrant Community in Contemporary Britain (1990)
  • It: Sex Since the Sixties (1993)
  • The Encyclopedia of Censorship (1990)
  • All Dressed Up: The Sixties and the Counterculture (1998)
  • Cutting it Fine: Inside the Restaurant Business, with Andrew Parkinson (2000)
  • Cannabis: A History (2002)
  • The Language Report, ed. Susie Dent (2005, 2006)
  • Elsevier Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition: contributor, 'Anglophone Slang Lexicography'
  • Dictionary of National Biography, revised edition: contributor, 'Eric Partridge', 'Sapper [H.C. McNeile]'
  • Bloomsbury Good Word Guide (1988, 1990, 1994), contributing editor: Slang and Jargon entries


  1. ^ See, for example, the author biography on Green's article " Antisemitic insults: a lexicon Archived 8 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine published in Engage, and the introduction to another audio interview, "Jonathon Green – 5th July 2007" Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, published in The Generalist.
  2. ^ Tonkin, Boyd (28 November 2008). "Fact and fun with the stars of geek heaven". The Independent.[dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Nick Groom "'I could say it 1,000 ways and they'd probably all offend'" Archived 6 March 2020 at the Wayback Machine, Times Higher Education Supplement, 9 June 2000
  4. ^ Michael Smith "Sex-for-charity slur costs £40,000" Archived 2 May 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Daily Telegraph, 13 June 2000
  5. ^ "Sixties activist sues Random House over `damaging lies'". The Independent. 11 January 1999. Archived from the original on 25 July 2023. Retrieved 10 August 2023.