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An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century

Illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel

About The Book

This charming and whimsically illustrated book of newly minted words—on politics and the media, love and friendship, work, play, family, fashion, and city life—is “a lexicon of witty neologisms for the modern age” (Vanity Fair).

You are a typical citizen of the young millennium, caught up in the fast-paced megatasking socio-professional whirl of our ever-evolving digitally enhanced lives.

If you’ve ever wondered what to call it when you answer the TV remote instead of the phone, or wished you had a phrase to capture your supervisor’s stealth campaign to stall your career, here is your guide. Now you can say “Oops, droidian slip!” with ease, and call out your boss for the impedimentor that he is. Armed with Wordbirds, you will be able to skillfully talk your way into—or out of—any situation the twenty-first century throws at you.

With 150 gorgeous, highly expressive bird illustrations, these neologisms will have you crowing with delight, and show you that fine feathers make fine words. (Not to mention give new meaning to the term “tweeting.”)

A perfect gift book, Wordbirds is “literary catnip for bird lovers who also find themselves fascinated—or annoyed—by the quirks of modern life” (The New York Times Book Review).


Wordbirds I. Fashion and Style
The twenty-first century is an intensely visual age, in which, thanks to an ever blurrier definition of gender, an ever sharper definition of physical perfection, and an ever more indulgent attitude toward cosmetic self-enhancement, more and more people choose to look exactly as they wish, without fear of becoming laughingstocks. (Or rather, without fear that anyone will have the guff to let them know they have become laughingstocks.)

About The Author

Liesl Schillinger has written for many publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review and translates fiction from French and German. 

About The Illustrator

Elizabeth Zechel is the illustrator and author of the children’s book Is There a Mouse in the Baby’s Room? She has created illustrations for children’s books and cookbooks, as well as for a variety of magazine and literary journals. She lives in Brooklyn.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 22, 2018)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982104481

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Raves and Reviews

"I am so into "Wordbirds", that from now on, I am going to use these words when playing Scrabble. If anyone challenges me, I will immediately throw the entire board game in the air. And I will say: 'that's for Liesl Schillinger.'"

– Fred Armisen

“A lexicon of witty neologisms for the modern age.”

– Vanity Fair

“The Oxford English Dictionary adds a short list of new words once a year ("squee" and "selfie" recently made the cut). Writer Liesl Schillinger finds such a change of pace "glacial," and has written an entire delightful book packed with fresh additions to our language. . . . The result is a collection of neologisms that resonates. Why? Underneath Schillinger's wit lies a more pointed commentary on how rapidly our society is changing, so much so that not even language has time to catch up.Anyone whose gotten "parking spaced"—also known as losing you car in a sprawling multitiered lot after a long, brain-numbing day of shopping at a mall—can relate.”


A great gift for pun lovers and playful linguists.

– Richmond Times-Dispatch

Schillinger demonstrates a keen talent for zooming in on expressions missing from our vocabulary....[she has] streamlined our language, fast-tracked awkward situations, and refined the humor of word play....You will want to share these clever coinages with your friends, and many of these words may even make it into our expanding collective lexicon.

– Los Angeles Review of Books

Wordbirds is a rare thing: A gift book that's fun, nicely packaged and truly worth reading.

– Chicago Tribune

If your friend complains when you blunderschedule, try not to apologibe in response. Liesl Schillinger's witty collection of necessary new words -- with charming avian illustrations from Elizabeth Zechel --will have you on a jollyroll.

– Barnes & Noble Review

“[Schillinger’s] lexicon cleverly captures the new normal of the twenty-first century. Some of her neologisms, in fact, may well stand the test of time.”

– Glenn C. Altschuler, Huffington Post Books

“Schillinger, an esteemed cultural critic, with illustrator Elizabeth Zechel, has crafted a beautiful book that offers 200 witty, newly claimed words that can help us make our way through the ever-evolving cultural language of the new millennium. . . . The words in Wordbirds are amusing and clever tools that resonate because they are at once original and familiar. Accompanying the words -- all of which are defined and used in a sentence -- are Zechel’s stunning illustrations.”

– Brooklyn Daily Eagle

“[Schillinger] provides . . . wonderful new words. You'll find yourself plugging them right in to your conversations . . . . [Wordbirds] is great fun.”


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