About Allen Walker Read
Allen Walker Read (June 2,1906 – October 16, 2002) was an American etymologist and lexicographer, best known for his studies into the words "okay" 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. He is 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. 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. They had no children.