CV/Resume of Orin Hargraves

Orin Hargraves (410) 346-6025 email: orinhargraves at colorado dot edu

Terms of Engagement

I work primarily as a lexicographer, instructor, and language researcher for numerous US, UK, and European research organizations, law firms, publishers, broadcasters, universities, startups, and other concerns. My chief area of concentration is the English language, with expert knowledge of semantics, grammar, and dialectal differences between British and American. Most projects I am involved in result in the publication of reference books, websites, ontologies, lexical databases, and in the production of iteratively refined inputs to natural language processing (NLP) systems. I research and develop expert testimony about the meaning and use of words and phrases.

Skill Set

lexicography ● teaching and training in any of the fields noted herein ● design and management of annotation and adjudication for NLP research, training data, WSD ● ontology development for data mining, keyword extraction, Q&A, summarization, WSD, event detection ● expert witness testimony about word meaning, behavior, distribution, and usage ●reference writing and editing (specializing in language reference) ● editorial management for reference and dictionary projects ● expert in British and American English differences ● English language localization for British English and American English ● lexical research in corpora and other databases ● software: Sketch Engine, oXygen XML Author, PubMan, DPS (IDM’s Dictionary Production System), Microsoft Suite, Google Apps● languages: conversant in Moroccan Arabic, working knowledge of French, German, Spanish, Classical Greek

Things I Like to Do

Annotation Management: Good output depends on good input, and for that you need good training data. I can organize a team to annotate your natural language data according to any schema in order to develop gold standard training material for NLP tasks. Even better, I can do that in an individual capacity, thus enabling you to avoid the absurd overheads of working through a university.

Dictionary Consulting: If you want to publish a dictionary or other highly formatted language reference work and don't know where to start, I can acquaint you with the various software platforms, editing scenarios, and publishing options (paper, mag media, Internet, mobile app, or any combination of these). I have extensive contacts in English language reference publishing and I have worked for most of the companies that do it.

Editorial Management: I can assemble a team of home-based lexicographers and/or reference editors, or supervise the one you've already got, for book or multi-document projects. Provided that the logistics are workable, I can also do on-site editorial project management for jobs lasting a week up to several months.

Expert Testimony: I research and produce expert witness reports about the use and behavior of words: statistical analysis of how words or phrases are used and what this implies about their meaning and people's understanding of them. More about that here.

Genetic Genealogy: If you have taken an autosomal DNA test and would like to develop your family tree, I'm happy to assist in that. For an example of what you might get, you're welcome to look at my tree on

Lexical Research: I work regularly on aspects of various large-scale NLP projects involving paraphrasing, machine translation, and artificial intelligence. I am happy to get involved in any aspect of similar projects that requires expert knowledge of English grammar and syntax or lexicographical insight into language behavior and patterns. I have extensive experience with WordNet, FrameNet, VerbNet, PropBank, and several public domain and proprietary corpora via Sketch Engine.

Lexicography: Defining words and editing definitions, along with all the other tasks of dictionary-making, is what I do best and most. I have worked with half a dozen different database and text management systems, including DPS, Datalogics Pager, and PubMan.

Manuscript Evaluations: You can send me book proposals or manuscript samples of dictionaries and other language reference works. I'll give you an expert evaluation for a standard fee; this includes an evaluation of the quality of the work, tips about who might be willing to publish it, and what you need to do in order to make that happen. I can also survey the market for any particular language reference genre and report on it for you. I regularly evaluate manuscripts and book proposals of language reference works for publishers.

Reference Content Management: Does your online glossary suck? Many do, because they have not had the benefit of being edited and managed by a lexicographer. I'm happy to give you a quote on overhauling yours, so that it will enhance rather than drag down the quality of your website.

Script Consulting: I edit scripts of all kinds (feature films, documentaries, TV docs and dramas) to ensure that the English dialog is historically accurate and that no startling anachronisms fall from the lips of your celluloid or digital creations.

Teaching: I taught the Lexicography course at the Linguistic Society of America's summer institute at the University of Colorado (Boulder) in the summer of 2011 and at the University of Michigan in 2013. I have also guest-lectured for the Lexicography Masterclass. I have taught upper division courses in Linguistics (semantics) and in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Colorado.

Leading Clients

  • USA: BearingPoint, Berlitz, Cambridge University Press, Cengage Learning, CL Research,,, Heinle Thomson,,, Maryland Public Television, Merriam-Webster, Microsoft Corporation, National Museum of Language, Newman Du Wors (Attorneys),, Oxford University Press, Potomac Global Media, Scholastic Corporation, Textio,,,,

  • UK: Addison-Wesley-Longman, Bloomsbury, Cambridge University Press, Chambers-Harrap, Continuum Books, HarperCollins, Macmillan Dictionaries, Oxford University Press, Toucan Books

  • Other abroad: Langenscheidt KG (Munich), Linguistic Computing Laboratory (Rome), Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore), QBS Learning (New Delhi), Ubiquitous Knowledge Processing (Darmstadt)

Selected Books (which I've written or contributed to)

It's Been Said Before: a guide to the use and abuse of verbal cliches (Oxford University Press, 2014; paperback 2016)

Slang Rules!, an ESL self-study book (Merriam-Webster, 2008)

The Big Book of Spelling Tests (Black Dog Leventhal, 2007)

Spell It!, the study guide for the National Spelling Bee (Scripps Newspapers, 2006 – 2010)

New Words (Oxford University Press, 2004)

Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions, a reference book about British and American English differences (Oxford University Press, 2003)

Chicago At Your Door, a guide for settlers (Times Editions Pte Ltd 1999)

London At Your Door (Kuperard, 1997)

Culture Shock! Morocco, a guide to customs and etiquette for foreigners in Morocco (Graphic Arts Center, 1995)

Articles, Papers, Presentations

  • "The Development of Electronic English Dictionaries," chapter in the Cambridge Companion to English Dictionaries, forthcoming in 2020.

    • "The Century Dictionary Definitions of Charles Sanders Peirce" in Dictionaries 2019 (available via Project Muse)

  • "The Electronic Retrieval of Lexical Information," chapter in The Routledge Handbook of Lexicography, 2017

  • "Trademarks and the Lexicographer in the Digital Age" in Dictionaries 2015 (available via Project Muse)

  • "Emerging American Language in 1812," National Museum of Language, College Park, MD, 2010

    • Review of The Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography by B.T. Sue Atkins and Michael Rundell, in Dictionaries 2009 (available via Project Muse)

  • “Lumping, Splitting, and Natural Language Processing” 2009 , Dictionary Society of North America (DSNA), Indiana University

  • "Coarse-grained English All-Words Task" in Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on Semantic Evaluations, 2007 (with Ken Litkowski and Roberto Navigli)

  • "Word-Sense Disambiguation of Prepositions" in Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on Semantic Evaluations" (SemEval-2007; with Ken Litkowski)

  • “Americanization and its Mal-contents” DSNA, 2007, University of Chicago

  • "Coverage and Inheritance in the Preposition Project" in Proceedings of the Third ACL-SIGSEM Workshop on Prepositions, European Association for Computational Linguistics, 2006 (with Ken Litkowski)

  • "Characterizing Prepositions for Natural Language Processing” 2005, DSNA, Boston University

  • “Who Owns English?” 2005, Smithsonian Institution, Washington

  • “Cucurbits,” English Today, October 2004

  • "Long Distance Lexicography: a View from the Field, in Dictionaries 2004 (available via Project Muse)

  • “Who Owns English?”, Vocabula Review, June 2003

  • Various articles in Verbatim, the Language Quarterly, Spring 2002 – 2005 (available via Amazon).

Lexicography, Lexical Research, NLP

  • Americanization of the Oxford 3000 and Oxford 5000 vocabulary lists for ESL (2019)

  • Chief lexicographer for the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary (2010 to present)

  • Research consultant at the Institute of Cognitive Science, CU-Boulder: expansion of VerbNet, 2012 - 2014

  • Sense clustering of the 800 most polysemous words in WordNet for (2011)

  • Development of an ontology for real-time Q&A and product delivery in the hospitality industry (2011)

  • American English Consultant for Collins CoBuild English Grammar, 3rd edition (2011)

  • Consultant lexicographer for the National Museum of Language exhibit "Emerging American Language in 1812" (2009-10)

  • Defining for the HarperCollins Framework multilingual translation database (for completion in 2010)

  • Sense inventory expansion and rationalization for a major new bilingual dictionary for publication in 2009

  • Sense inventory mapping (WordNet → British National Corpus) on N-N, N-V, and V-N collocations for the Linguistic Computing Laboratory (2007)

  • Sense inventory mapping (WordNet → Oxford Dictionary of English) in preparation for SemEval 2007 (2007)

  • Lexical analysis of corpora, textual data, and word lists for Microsoft’s NLP group (via their vendor Butler Hill Group; 2003 – present)

  • Principal lexicographic researcher for the Preposition Project (2005 – 2008), analyzing and classifying the behavior of all prepositions in Framenet.

  • Briticization of the Berlitz English Pronunciation Program CD (2006)

  • 2006 update of Words to Rhyme With by Willard Espy.

  • US English consultant for Collins-Cobuild English Usage (HarperCollins UK, 2004)

  • US English consultant for the Oxford Dictionary of English (2003) and the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th edition (2004)

  • Editor for the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms (2003)

  • American English editor for Langenscheidt’s Großwörterbuch Muret-Sanders Deutsch-Englisch (2003)

  • Contributing Editor for the Oxford Essential Business and Office Dictionary (2002)

  • Editor for the Oxford American College Dictionary (2002)

  • Editor for the Macmillan English Dictionary (2002)

  • Contributing editor to the New Oxford American Dictionary (2001, 2004, 2010), the Oxford Essential Dictionary of the US Military (2001), and the Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words (2001)

  • Americanization and expansion of entries for the Microsoft Encarta Thesaurus (2001)

  • Lexicographer for the Encarta World English Dictionary (1999)

  • Contributing editor to the Cambridge Dictionary of American English (1997, 2008)

  • New defining and editing of Longman Interactive American Dictionary CD-ROM (1997)

  • Americanization of the Longman Handy Learner’s Dictionary (1993)

  • Lexicographer for the Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture (1992)

Other Writing and Editing

  • Blogger for the Macmillan Dictionary Blog (2011)

  • Author of the monthly "Language Lounge" column and of Word of the Day at (2005 - present)

  • Book Review Editor of Dictionaries, the journal of the Dictionary Society of North America (2006 – 2010)

  • Writing and compilation from existing material of a vocabulary builder and a grammar toolkit for St. Martin’s Press (2005)

  • Writing and editing of encyclopedia articles for the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Encyclopedia (2002; subjects: botany, computers, food, languages, the Middle East, religion)

  • Writing of intermediate and advanced EFL texts for Moroccan secondary schools (1980s)


BA with honors, General Studies in the Humanities, the University of Chicago, 1977

Associations and Memberships