Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Dictionary Day

Logophiles rejoice: October 16th is Dictionary Day!  The date commemorates the birthday of Noah Webster (1758-1843), a pioneer of American lexicography whose linguistic achievements include his famous Compendious Dictionary of the English Language as well as his American Spelling Book, which taught generations of Americans how to read and spell.

On a broader scale, the day celebrates the work of lexicographers, the power of dictionaries, and the beauty of words, wonderful words.

I am sometimes asked to name my favorite word, an almost impossible task, given the inexhaustible scope of the English language — and so the answer might be said to be whichever word I have most recently learned.  However, I can more easily name a few of my favorite dictionaries, works that have been constant companions through the years:
  • American Heritage College Dictionary 
  • Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
  • Century Dictionary
  • Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
  • Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD)
  • Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
  • Webster's Third New International Dictionary (W3)
I've spent innumerable hours with all of these wordbooks and with dozens of others.  You might say that, for me, every day is Dictionary Day, a delightful alphabetic journey through the lexicon of life.  And as any dictionary lover knows, there's always another word, another meaning, another journey of discovery, waiting on the next page....

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