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Tony Thorne (born 1950 in Cairo, Egypt) is a British author, linguist and lexicographer specialising in slang, jargon and cultural history. He is a leading authority on language change and language usage in the UK and across the anglosphere.

His latest title, Jolly Wicked, Actually, published by Little, Brown in September 2009, is subtitled, "The 100 Words That Make us English", and consists of essays on one hundred key words that are most emblematic of English identity in the 20th and 21st centuries. Thorne’s Dictionary of Contemporary Slang remains one of the only treatments of the subject to be based on examples of authentic speech rather than purely upon written or broadcast sources, while Shoot the Puppy, a survey of the latest buzzwords and jargon, drew upon his inside experience of corporate life.

After explorations in Central and Eastern Europe following the fall of communism and the opening of lost archives, Tony Thorne published the definitive English-language biography of the 16th century Hungarian Countess Erzsebet Bathory, reputed to be a mass murderess who bathed in the blood of her victims. His Children of the Night is a comprehensive account of the historical origins of the vampire myth as well as its subsequent representations in literature and popular culture. The book additionally examines contemporary vampire culture through interviews with self-styled ‘living vampires’.

Thorne has also written a life of the 18th century French waxworker, Madame Tussaud, for children, and writes on outsider and visionary art.

From 1991 to 2007 he was Director of the Language Centre at King's College London where he is now Language and Innovation Consultant. He founded and oversees the Slang and New Language Archive at King’s, a library and database resource recording language change and tracking linguistic controversies.

He has written and presented programmes on language and popular culture for BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, and is a regular contributor to media discussions of language controversies, communication technologies and lifestyle innovations.

He has homes in London, Slovenia and Turkey.


  • Jolly Wicked, Actually: The 100 Words That Make Us English, Little, Brown Book Group, 2009 ISBN 1408700891
  • Shoot the Puppy, Penguin, London 2007 ISBN 0141027061
  • Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, Bloomsbury, first published 1990; latest edition published by A&C Black 2007 ISBN 0679737065
  • Madame Tussaud, Short Books, London, 2004 ISBN 1904095291
  • Children of the Night, Victor Gollancz, London, 1999 ISBN 0575066466
  • Countess Dracula, Bloomsbury, London, 1997 ISBN 0747529000
  • Fads, Fashions & Cults, Bloomsbury, London 1993

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