Words, words, words

by Miriam

Looking back it’s amazing I survived my childhood without much in the way of bullying or even name calling. I was a humongous geek with a penchant for reading the dictionary (and the World Book Encyclopedia) and then holding forth on my discoveries about everything from glaciers to Millard Fillmore or using words like “sesquipedalian,” just because they rolled so trippingly off the tongue.

To this day, I can pick up a dictionary and get hopelessly lost in definitions. When I found this piece on one of my random Google searches that led to other searches I was delighted to be reminded that other people enjoy the dictionary as an entertainment, not just reference, source. Lots of us geeks out there, huh?

‘Fess up! Do you read the dictionary for fun? What are your favorite “finds?”

23 Responses to Words, words, words

  1. Emily White says:

    Oh yes! I've always loved to peruse the dictionary. It's fascinating! No matter how many times I go to look, I will always find dozens of words I'd never heard of before.

  2. Alan Orloff says:

    Ah, the World Book. I spent many hours flipping the pages of that multi-volume set. Still have it too–I wonder how much of that material is out of date, forty years later?!

  3. Connie says:

    Oh, yes, I read the dictionary, and I have a penchant for buying books with titles like 2000 Most Challenging and Obscure Words.

  4. Carolyn says:

    One site for you: wordnik.com


  5. Clix says:

    No, not the dictionary – my dad's old Roget's, the one that has words categorized and given numbers and all cross-referenced, and indexed in the back… oh, MAN, I love that book.

  6. Wendy Delfosse says:

    My husband thoroughly enjoyed his classes in Greek and Hebrew so he likes to say he's such a geek he read Greek and Hebrew Lexicons for fun. :-) Does that take it to another level?

  7. Lisa_Gibson says:

    I do love words! I've found a site of rare words and I enjoy cruisin' it sometimes.

  8. Anonymous says:

    You'd love Samuel Johnson's 18th century dictionary, then, which is not only an entertaining trip back in time but also, perhaps counterintuitively, filled with a wit that never loses its bite with age.

  9. Kristin Laughtin says:

    I don't usually set out to peruse the dictionary, but if I go to look up a word, I inevitably end up getting distracted by other words on the page and looking up more and more words. It's even worse with English/foreign language dictionaries.

    Oddly, I find I get teased more now when a big word slips out in casual conversation, even if it feels much more natural for me to use those words. It doesn't even have to be a huge word; I've been recently teased for using "obtuse" and "obsequious", and neither of those words are that obscure.

  10. Angela M. says:

    My husband has an ancient unabridged dictionary from WWI that I especially love to read. It's amazing how much our language has changed since then.

  11. Jaycee says:

    Oh yeah I love the dictionary…but even more than that, I can get lost in the THESAURUS. Lol.

  12. Ginny says:

    Yup! My husband doesn't get why I won't toss my Webster's Encyclepedic Dictionary that I've had for almost twenty years. I just can't see myself parting ways with it! Just the other day I was thumbing through it with my daughter. She loved learning that both bovines and whales name their genders/offspring the same. And she has picked up my love of words. Her favorite book is the thesaurus!

  13. MaryWitzl says:

    My personal favorite is the OED, but like Jaycee I also love a good thesaurus. But there is nothing as much fun as sitting down with a couple of encyclopedias.

  14. Blee Bonn says:

    I'm not as big on the dictionary as I am with the thesaurus (Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus). I love the my thesaurus.

    In fact, I used it so much writing my very first novel, it broke into 3 parts. I still use it sometimes even though it's a little more wieldy to figure out which part has what word. :)

  15. DGLM says:

    You're all kindred spirits! Carolyn, thanks for the site suggestion…I think. Wendy, your husband definitely takes it to another level. And, Anonymous, I worked on the Johnsonian Newsletter in graduate school at Columbia and I'm a die-hard Johnson fan.

  16. Kelly Wittmann says:

    Yes, the dictionary is always right beside me when I read in bed. And throughout the workday, I am constantly consulting dictionary.com and thesaurus.com. It's an obsession that began at a very early age.

  17. Peter Von Brown says:

    Oh yes. I even had a post about it! :)
    Lost in the Dictionary

  18. fatcaster says:

    Dictionary? No. Thesaurus? Every day.

  19. Holly Dodson says:

    I've always read the dictionary for entertainment. Don't tell my old high school friends though. 😉

  20. Jessica Nelson says:

    Not the dictionary, but encyclopedias. One of the reasons Anne of Green Gables was so beloved to me was because she used big words! LOL My heroine.

  21. Becca says:

    the best word I ever found in the dictionary was "boondoggle."

  22. Gilbert J. Avila says:

    I love old reference and travel books from 1900 through the 1930's. Also books written by explorers themselves, back when there was still adventure in the world before there were so damned many nationalist and insurgent movements in the world, where you could encounter warlords and bandits. (My father was one of Pancho Villa's bodyguards—the stories he told–!). It's depressing knowing that the setting of "King Solomon's Mines" was the site of a Mau-Mau uprising, and that the temples at Angkor-Wat were damaged by communist artillery. It's a form of defilement.

  23. Janet Morgenstern says:

    I'm not a dictionary aficionado, but I do remember as a kid that every once in a while a common word would strike me in a new way. I would say it out loud, usually several times in different ways, letting it roll over my tongue like a fine wine, then lose myself in the possible ways to use it differently.

    The process was immensely entertaining, but the talking to myself part made me entertaining to bullies…

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