Dictionary \ˈdik-shə-ˌner-ē\ noun: loveliest thing in the world

Okay, I know this goes a long way toward explaining why I never got asked out in high school, but I can't help myself -- there is nothing more rompingly entertaining or entirely engrossing or deliciously sexy to me than the dictionary. I still remember the bulky leather bound Webster I grew up with, the smell of the onion paper pages, the lovely little divots that guided the index finger to each letter, the small, studious typeface and little etched illustrations for the best and luckiest words. These days, I get a ridiculous amount of pleasure from the Word of the Day from Merriam-Webster.

A recent favorite:
contumely \kahn-TOO-muh-lee\ noun: harsh language or treatment arising from haughtiness and contempt; also : an instance of such language or treatment

Example sentence: "Early in his career, the pioneering scientist's colleagues heaped contumely on him for his unconventional ideas."

But a more fun example is in Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy: "For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely...."

Another fun feature is the Open Dictionary, where users can submit words they'd like to see introduced into the lexicon.

A few recent entries that made me smile:
swellow (noun) : a swell fellow
"This kind teacher of ours is a swellow."

ediot (noun) : Someone who thinks he or she can edit—but can't. (Can also be applied to video—a vidiot.)
"She thinks she's an editor, but, looking at that manuscript, I can see she's really an ediot."

belaborate (verb) : to make a point of explaining something using an excessive amount of details [belabor + elaborate]
"Don't ask him anything unless you can spare five minutes while he belaborates."


LOL on "ediots". A lot of them are of the amateur variety, the in-house dragons of college creative writing workshops or local writers' group critique circles. They always "know better" than everyone else in the group (even though they've never achieved paid publication), and if you don't agree, you're clearly a moron, a hack, or a sell-out to the NYC publishing establishment.

Uh, oh. I'd better change the subject. I feel a serious rant building.
TJ Bennett said…
Joni! I thought I was the only one who harbored secret dictionary love fantasies in school...I'd go to look up a word and find myself lost in the dictionary an hour later, following a trail of new words (new to me) like they were bread crumbs. I almost reached Nirvana the day I purchased my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary set (couldn't afford the unabridged edition, sigh).

I was enamored of the thesaurus. Mayhap to an immoderate magnitude...


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