About me


Jesse Sheidlower is currently an adjunct assistant professor in the Writing program at Columbia University. He is the Past President of the American Dialect Society, and the author of The F-Word, a detailed historical study of the word fuck. He has been profiled on the front page of The New York Times and on 60 Minutes, and New York Magazine has named him one of the 100 smartest people in New York. Gawker has called him "the very definition of geek hot." He has been an editor at the Oxford English Dictionary, chiefly responsible for American and Canadian vocabulary, and for the Random House Reference Department, specializing in slang and new words. While there he was also project editor of the Historical Dictionary of American Slang.

He has written about language for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, Lingua Franca, Playboy, Esquire, Slate, Bookforum, and various scholarly journals, including American Speech, Dictionaries (journal of the Dictionary Society of North America), and The Journal of English Linguistics. He is frequently quoted in the press on language matters. He has given talks at universities, conferences, and bookstores around the world.

He is also keenly interested in food and wine, and has written about food for Gourmet, reviewed bars for Time Out New York, and worked as a bartender at a number of (usually) underground parties. He is currently the bar manager of the Threesome Tollbooth, a very very small high-end cocktail bar in Brooklyn.

He was graduated with special honors in English from the University of Chicago (having been a Classics major until the last minute), and did graduate work in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge University.

He lives in Manhattan.


In general, he is not a fan of using "About" pages to discuss personal information that most people probably don't care about. However, it seems to be the thing, at least to a certain extent, and I'd rather put this here under my control than elsewhere under, say, Facebook's, so, in brief, and shifting to the first person:

Sport. I rowed for the University of Chicago Crew and the First and Third Trinity Boat Club. I think rowing is the greatest sport, and wish I could continue, but "New York [is] a terrible place in which to row singles" (D. Halberstam). I also am a long-time cyclist, though can't quite manage the endurance feats of my youth, and don't race often nowadays. I like to run, especially up hills. I'm fairly serious about squash, and while I'm not that good and never will be, I enjoy the sport immensely. Most recently I trained pretty seriously in Olympic weightlifting, in an attempt to get my fast-twitch on, but have now switched to powerlifting, my fast-twitch and mobility not being what they could be.

Food and Wine. I enjoy cooking, with a particular emphasis on extremely elaborate dinner parties. (See this article for some press coverage, and some overly polite quotes from impressive food-world guests.) I also like wine, particularly German whites and red Burgundy. I bake bread, with a lovely sourdough starter procured from a renowned Hudson Valley bakery. I am a fan of cocktails, which I have occasionally written about, and I regularly bartend underground events. I am the Bar Manager of of the Threesome Tollbooth, a very very small high-end cocktail bar in Brooklyn.

Computing. I like programming and fiddling with computers. I use the FreeBSD and Linux operating systems, use Emacs, and write most of my code in Python, having moved over from Perl. I am, undeservedly, part of the core development group of the Catalyst Web Framework, a major platform for web development in Perl that is now widely used around the world. I like other computer geeks.

Clothing. I like to dress well. I think it's inappropriate and show-offy to talk about it, so I will do so no further.

Music. I like guitar, especially 1960s British fingerstyle guitar (John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Davey Graham). I revere Richard Thompson. I am not ashamed to admit that I like Jethro Tull and Rush. I play guitar extremely poorly, but care greatly about the guitar as instrument, and think that the lightly-braced 12-fret Martins from the late 1920s are the best guitars ever made.


Favorite Music: Richard Thompson, Bert Jansch, Jethro Tull, John Renbourn, Ella Fitzgerald, Led Zeppelin, Davy Graham, Rush, Blind Blake, Ani DiFranco, Incredible String Band, AC/DC, Cream, Nick Drake, Leo Kottke, Joni Mitchell, The Mountain Goats, Pentangle, White Stripes, and generally anyone who plays the guitar well.

Favorite TV Shows: The Prisoner, Star Trek, Fleabag, Sandbaggers, The Sopranos, West Wing, House, Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones.

Favorite Movies: Kind Hearts and Coronets, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, A Fish Called Wanda, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, The Lives of Others.

Favorite Books: Halberstam's The Amateurs, Wechsberg's Blue Trout and Black Truffles, The Oxford English Dictionary, Max Beerbohm's Zuleika Dobson, Nicholson Baker, DFW (nonfiction), Patti Smith's Just Kids, The Phantom Tollbooth, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie, William Morris, Maggie Nelson, Evelyn Waugh, de Groot's Auberge of the Flowering Hearth, P.G. Wodehouse, Anthony Powell. Oh, and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

Favorite Quotations:

"If I am occasionally a little overdressed, I make up for it by always being immensely overeducated."—Oscar Wilde

"I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines."—Oliver Goldsmith

"His socks compelled one's attention without losing one's respect."—Saki

"To enjoy good houses and good books in self-respect and decent comfort, seems to me to be the pleasurable end towards which all societies of human beings ought now to struggle."—William Morris

"What do ties matter, Jeeves, at a time like this?"...
"There is no time, sir, at which ties do not matter."—P.G. Wodehouse

"Он сошел вниз, избегая подолгу смотреть на нее, как на солнце, но он видел ее, как солнце, и не глядя."—Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. Perhaps the most perfect sentence ever written.