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Publisher's Summary

A brash, enlightening, and wildly entertaining feminist look at gendered language and the way it shapes us, written with humor and playfulness that challenges words and phrases and how we use them.

“I get so jazzed about the future of feminism knowing that Amanda Montell’s brilliance is rising up and about to explode worldwide.” (Jill Soloway)

The word bitch conjures many images for many people, but it is most often meant to describe an unpleasant woman. Even before its usage to mean a female canine, bitch didn’t refer to gender at all - it originated as a gender-neutral word meaning genitalia. A perfectly innocuous word devolving into a female insult is the case for tons more terms, including hussy - which simply meant housewife - or slut, which meant an untidy person and was also used to describe men. These words are just a few among history’s many English slurs hurled at women.

Amanda Montell, reporter and feminist linguist, deconstructs language - from insults and cursing, gossip, and catcalling to grammar and pronunciation patterns - to reveal the ways it has been used for centuries to keep women and other marginalized genders from power. 

Ever wonder why so many people are annoyed when women talk with vocal fry or use the word like as a filler? Or why certain gender-neutral terms stick and others don’t? Or where stereotypes of how women and men speak come from in the first place?

Montell effortlessly moves between history, science, and popular culture to explore these questions and more - and how we can use the answers to effect real social change. Montell’s irresistible humor shines through, making linguistics not only approachable, but both downright hilarious and profound, demonstrated in chapters such as:

  • "Slutty Skanks and Nasty Dykes: A Comprehensive List of Gendered Insults"
  • "How to Embarrass the Shit out of People Who Try to Correct Your Grammar"
  • "F--k it: An Ode to Cursing While Female"
  • "Cyclops, Panty Puppet, Bald Headed Bastard and 100+ Other Things to Call Your Genitalia"

Montell effortlessly moves between history and popular culture to explore these questions and more. Wordslut gets to the heart of our language, marvels at its elasticity, and sheds much-needed light into the biases that shadow women in our culture and our consciousness. 

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2019 Amanda Montell (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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Loved this book

After reading Amanda Montell’s newest book Cultish, I knew I had to read this book immediately after, and I wasn’t disappointed. Amanda has this amazing writing style that I’m envious of, and she’s extremely knowledgeable on the subjects she writes about. In this book, she focuses on sociolinguistics, which is a topic I’ve been wanting to learn about for a long time. Although the focus of the book is how language is used to put down, control, and oppress women, it’s much more than that. As you read this book (especially if you’re new to sociolinguistics), you’ll learn a ton about the history of language, how it changes over time, and why people feel all high and mighty for correcting grammar.

I think the best part about this book is that it isn’t preachy. I could see how someone would think this book is trying to suppress speech, but that’s not it at all. Instead of trying to be the language police, Amanda comes off as educational while hitting you with facts, studies and research. You can still say whatever you want, but you’ll feel like a jerk because you have a better understanding of the effects of language. On top of that, I also appreciated learning about why I shouldn’t be so self-conscious about the way I speak. Although I’m a straight man, I’ve had people say I use feminine words and other criticisms of how I talk because they aren’t “masculine”. If nothing else, this book will help you drop the mic on people that try to criticize how you talk while you also learn how what you say may be causing harm without you even realizing it.

3 people found this helpful

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Entertaining and important

Found this book to be fun and delightful, mind-opening, and inspiring. I learned so much about language I use every day, and am leaving the experience feeling more aware, empowered, and hopeful for the future. Also, Amanda is a badass and a genius. Audiobook narrated by her was a delight.

3 people found this helpful

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Essential listening

This book accomplished the tough job of taking a relatively boring and academic subject and making it interesting. This was more a 4.5/5 for me because I think it is definitely an essential read, but there was still some pets that got a little dry for me. This made me question and recognize a lot of things about how we speak and write, and honestly made me feel better about speech patterns that I’ve personally been criticized for in the past, along with many other women. I also thought this was very comprehensive and touched on all the influences of English speech, and was well researched and relatable.

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A good book

An Interesting take on words - a perspective and facts I've never heard before and that I appreciated. I laughed out loud a handful of times. The author writes and reads in a very unpretentious way that makes the subject matter approachable and pleasant.

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Man, that ‘splaines a lot!

Dude here! I might not be as proud to say that as I had been before I read/heard this book lol. So much insight from Amanda, thank you!

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So good!

I can not recommend this book highly enough. It is thoughtful, interesting, funny, and informative.

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Brilliant, engaging, and informative

Amanda explains the intricacies of the English language's partiarchial pain points and the history of how we got to the words we speak today. Highly recommended!

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Very eye opening

I have loved this book, I felt like answered so many questions I had, and even more I didn’t realize I should be asking. I have recommended this book to everyone, both women and men, and all others that I know.

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  • K
  • 05-17-20

one of my all-time favorite books

from the bottom of my heart, Thank you in so many ways. btw ily 💕

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loved it!

this book took me a while to get through, had to pause and absorb the info. made me really think and check the way I talk to others.

loved the content and great narration

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  • Ms C B-K
  • 12-24-20

Mind blowing 😉

WowZa. I really loved this book and can’t wait to share some of the things that I haven’t learnt.

1 person found this helpful

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  • I Shaw
  • 09-05-21

accessible linguistics

I enjoyed listening to the relaxed non confrontational and though provoking style around what is often a challenging and heated discussion point in my experience. I hope my levels of profanity and willingness to try new words will not be noteworthy in 20 years time. it's frustrating to be hearing the current backlash against equity across many English speaking countries. May this be another contribution to the start of the pendulum swing back towards it.

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  • M Robinson
  • 08-31-21

Absolutely brilliant.

Fascinating, feminist and informative. Bloody loved this listen, would recommend to anyone. The author is witty and knowledgeable.

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  • Lizzie
  • 12-12-20

As if I wasn’t a massive raging feminist already!

I thoroughly fuckin love this book, have listened to it twice now and found it so interesting! Don’t listen to Amanda unless you want to inspect every gendered insult you ever use, because holy moly does this book make you think. I used to be such a grammar and spelling booby head but never again. Thanks for writing such a sick and informative piece of literature gal. Have recommended to all of my pals

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-20-19

awesome, informative , fun(ny) , great !

I loved it, missed my bus stop twice while listening to it ! when I listen to feminist books , I get angry and also motivated to read (and do) more. I stopped listening a few times to Google some terms and names n add things to my to read(Or to listen) list . I really enjoyed it !