Know Your Words · LRL Achive

The Dictionary: An Agreeable Companion

Dictionary Digger
A reference enthusiast of yore celebrates Dictionary Day way back when. (image in public domain.)

In honor of Dictionary Day, I looked at how the word dictionary was defined in in eight references published over a span of 79 years. Much to my surprise, the definition of the term  has remained remarkably steady over the years, although they do seem to grow larger as time progresses.

 

Webster’s School and Office Dictionary (1914)

Dictionary. A book containing the words of a language arranged alphabetically, with their meanings; a work explaining the terms of any subject under heads alphabetically arranged.

National Dictionary (1940)

Dictionary. A book containing all, or the principal, words in a language, with phonetics indicative of the sound of each, followed by definitions and other explanatory matter. See lexicon. [Late Latin]

Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (1966)

Dictionary. [Middle Latin dictionaries < Latin dictio] 1. A book of alphabetically listed words in a language, with definitions, etymologies, pronunciation, and other information; lexicon: a dictionary is a record of generally accepted meanings, acquired up to the time o its publication. 2. A book of alphabetically listed words in a language with their equivalents in another language: as a Spanish-English dictionary. 3. Any alphabetically arranged list of words or articles relating to a special subject: as, a medical dictionary.

Random House Dictionary of the English Language (1966)

Dictionary. 1. A book containing a selection of the words of a language, usually arranged alphabetically, giving information about their meanings, pronunciations, etymologies, inflected forms, etc., expressed in either the same or another language; lexicon; glossary: a dictionary of English; a french-English dictionary. 2. a book giving information on particular subjects or on a particular class of words, names, or facts usually arranged alphabetically: a biographical dictionary; a dictionary of mathematics [< ML dictionarium, lit., a wordbook < LL, dictio – word (see diction) + arium -ary]

American Heritage Dictionary (1969)

Dictionary. 1. A reference book containing an explanatory alphabetical list of words, as: a. a book listing a comprehensive or restricted selection of the words of a language, identifying usually the phonetic, grammatical, and semantic value of each word, often with etymology , citations, and usage guidance, and other information. b. Such a book listing the words of a particular category within a language. 2. A book listing the words of a language with transitions into another language. 3. A book listing words or other linguistic items, with specialized information about them: a medical dictionary [Medieval Latin dictionaries, from latin dicta, Diction]

Webster’s Dictionary (1971)

Dictionary [Latin: dicere, to say] A book containing, alphabetically arranged, the words of a language, their meanings, and etymology; a lexicon

World Book Dictionary (1989)

Dictionary. 1. A book that explains the words of a language, or some special kinds of words. it is usually arranged alphabetically. One can use a dictionary to find out the meaning, pronunciation, or spelling of a word. A medical dictionary explains words used in medicine. A German-English dictionary translates German words into English. A dictionary of biography has accounts of people’s lives arranged in alphabetical order of their names. From the time of [Samuel] Johnson on, the dictionary has been a conservative and standardizing agency from the spelling of the language as well as for its other aspects. Syn: lexicon. 2. a book of information or reference n any subject or branch of knowledge, the items of which are arranged in some stated order, often alphabetical: a dictionary of folklore, a Dictionary of the Bible. 3. Figurative. any repository of knowledge or information: Life is our dictionary (Emerson). Abbr: dict. [Medieval Latin dictionaries < Latin dictio]

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1993)

Dictionary [Middle Latin dictionaries, Late Latin dictiondicta word + latin -arium – ary] 1: a reference book containing words usu. alphabetically arranged along with information about their forms, pronunciations, functions, etymologies, meanings, and syntactical and idiomatic uses < a general ~ of the English language> <a monolingual ~>–compare vocabulary entry 2a: a reference book listing terms of names important to a particular subject or activity along with discussion of their meanings and applications <a law~> <a~of sports>; broadly: an encyclopedic listing <a~of dates> c: a reference book listing terms as commonly spelled together with their equivalents in some specialized system (as of orthography or symbols) <a~of shorthand> <a pronouncing ~> 3a: a general comprehensive list, collection, or repository <a ~ of biography> <a usage ~> b. vocabulary in use (as in a special field): terminology <the ~ of literary criticism> c: a vocabulary of accepted terms <in the ~ of the French Academy> d: a vocabulary of the written words used by one author <systematic dictionaries of individual authors> e: lexicon

On one hand, the similarity among the definitions seems strange, as it’s hard to believe that there haven’t been new ideas about the dictionary in nearly 80 years. On the other, the constancy of the definitions mirrors the history of dictionary making itself. As E.L. McAdam and George Milne write in their introduction to Johnson’s Dictionary: A Modern Selection, “All lexicographers use earlier dictionaries, if only to avoid the danger of omitting some words by inadvertence.” Could that be the reason for the similarity?

I don’t know the answer to that question. What I do know, however, is that dictionaries are so much more than just their definitions. The are friends … or at least “agreeable companions.”

To many people a dictionary is a forbidding volume, a useful but bleak compendium to be referred to hastily for needed information, such as spelling and pronunciation. Yet what a dictionary ought to be is a treasury of information about every aspect of words, our most essential tools of communication. It should be an agreeable companion. By knowledgeable use of the dictionary we should learn where a word has come from, precisely what its various shades of meaning are today, and its social status. — American Heritage Dictionary 

I concur! And with that, I wish you a Happy Dictionary Day!

To see more examples of all the awesome information available in dictionaries of all types, poke around this site! Don’t know where to start? Look at the list of previous posts or the tag cloud on the right side of the page.

 

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ARL Archive · Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup (Vol. 6)

newspaper-peepsHello Papercutters!

I haven’t done a Reference News Roundup in a while, so I decided to right that wrong with the following batch of reference- and word-related news items from the past week (give or take a few days).

Happy reading and Enjoy!

I. NEWS ITEM(S) of the WEEK

Kory Stamper, associate editor at Merriam-Webster and author of the new book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries , is EVERYWHERE these days. (Good for her and good for dictionaries.) In fact, she’s so omnipresent that, instead of just offering you one News Item of the Week, I’m giving you four — all of which center around her in some way.

How do new words get in the dictionary?
Boingboing.net

Kory Stamper, author of the new book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries describes three criteria Merriam-Webster uses for inclusion of words like truther, binge-watch, photobomb and the 1,000 other words that make the cut in a typical year.

Suffixery
The Chronicle of Higher Education (blog)

“So in speech, I don’t police people’s speech. I think that’s jerkery (ph) of the highest order when people do that,” [says associate editor of Merriam-Webster, Kory Stamper].

I love the “ph.” It means that the transcriber was not familiar with jerkery, found nothing when looking it up in Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries (including UrbanDictionary.com!), and thus offered a phonetic spelling. But Stamper didn’t make up jerkery.

Sorry, English teachers: ‘Irregardless’ is a word, dictionary writer says
Des Moines Register.com

“Everyone literally hates this word,” said Stamper, who visits Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City on [recently] to promote her new book, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries. “But it’s been around for 200 years. It has a clear definition and regular usage. So, mad props to you, ‘irregardless.'”

Collingswood dictionary editor explains inclusion of N-word, profanity
Philly Voice.com

Charged with editing the very text used to determine which words are words and which words are not, Kory Stamper knows the power of language — for good or bad.

II. WORDS & PHRASES

What Are Sheeple? Apple Users Are In New Merriam-Webster Dictionary Definition
International Business Times

Apple fanboys have always had a reputation for undying loyalty to the brand, but Merriam-Webster is taking that characterization to a new level by using them as an example for new dictionary entry “sheeple.”

Words of the Week: “Knock for a Loop”
Bozeman Daily Chronicle.com

We American English speakers have thousands of colorful expressions at our disposal. A listener recently brought an exemplary one to my attention: knock for a loop, meaning to surprise or stun. As in: getting fired without notice knocked me for a loop. We sometimes get thrown for a loop, too, which means the same thing.

‘Wicked’ Interesting: Merriam-Webster Explores Rise Of New England’s Favorite Word
Boston.CBSlocal.com

New England and “wicked” go together like peanut butter and Fluff. But what’s the story behind the word that has flourished in Massachusetts and the northeast corner of the United States? The folks at Merriam-Webster Dictionary tried to shed some light on its origins, tweeting Thursday “This is how ‘wicked’ became an adverb.”

Imposter Syndrome enters the Oxford English Dictionary
Cambridge Network.co.uk

Colloquial usage of the term impostor syndrome has grown recently, so much so that the term is now one of the new entries into the Oxford English Dictionary.  In fact, the impostor phenomenon was first referred to in academic circles back in 1978, but it has recently developed another life as the impostor syndrome and is being used (incorrectly) to refer to any lack of confidence or self-doubt.

III. DICTIONARIES

Meet the people who are making the dictionary relevant again
Metro.US

To many, a dictionary has likely gone the way of beepers, payphones and writing by hand, but for the folks at Merriam-Webster, they’re just doing what they’ve been doing for the past 186 years.

Tech Jargon Confusing You? Use this Online Dictionary
Guidingtech.com

Are you enthralled by the numerous developments that tech has to offer but often get bogged down due to the complex tech concepts and terminology? Here is a dictionary to explain it to you like you were a child.

Chinese to English, Urdu dictionary launched
Pakobserver.net

Deputy Consul General of China Wang Daxue and Prof. Dr. Nizamudin, Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission Friday launched the first-ever “Chinese to English and Urdu Dictionary” along with the second edition of Chinese Learning book.

IV. ENCYCLOPEDIAS

Turkey bans Wikipedia, labeling it a ‘national security threat’
Star Democrat.com

If you try to open Wikipedia in Turkey right now, you’ll turn up a swirling loading icon, then a message that the server timed out. Turkey has blocked Wikipedia. If you’re inside the country, you can only access the online encyclopedia through a virtual private network connection to a system outside the country.

Introducing an Online Encyclopedia of Inuit Arctic Observations
News Deeply.com

Siku, an online tool that recently won a $750,000 grant from Google, aims to pull together native knowledge about dangerously thin sea ice and other conditions in the Arctic’s fast-changing landscape.

V. OTHER WORDY BUSINESS

Dumbing down Shakespeare: Are Americans too intellectually lazy to appreciate his genius?
Washington Post.com

The fact that many theater companies seem to believe they can fulfill their classical mandates with only the most widely known plays, or worse, sacrifice more challenging plays to the popular-entertainment demands of the box office, makes [the author] wonder whether these are signs of a deeper problem.

10 Words That Will Make You Sound Smarter at Work
Time.com

If you’re looking to stretch your workplace vocabulary without sounding like a pretentious asshole, here are some suggestions.

[And if you don’t care what those assholes at the office think about you, just keep talking as normal….]

That’s it for this installment. If you want to see previous issues of the Reference News Roundup, click the following links:

RNR (vol.5)
RNR (vol.4)
RNR (vol.3)
RNR (vol.2)
RNR (vol.1)

ARL Archive · Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup (Vol.4)

newspaper-peepsHello Papercutters! It’s time once again for a Reference News Roundup (RNR) courtesy of your friends at the Anachronist Reference Library.

Before we get started, let me say:

1. Thanks for reading and, if you dig this kind of thing, follow the blog and share this with your friends.
2. You can also follow me on Twitter @Joe3atARL.
3. Finally, should you feel inclined, drop me a line if you want to comment on or chat about any of the issues raised here.

Alright, let’s get right to it, shall we? As usual, I’ll start with this episode’s …

___________________________

NEWS ITEM OF THE WEEK:

The Secret Life of Dictionaries is a bittersweet look at the disappearing reference book
Kory Stamper’s narrative of life as an editor at Merriam-Webster – “America’s oldest dictionary company” – is consistently wry and amusing, but a sadness persists in the telling. It is the sadness of good things doomed to disappear. The good thing in this case is the hefty, one-volume print dictionary with nearly every phrase and sentence the product of pure verbal craftsmanship.

Editor’s Note: Enough with the learned helplessness of the Digital Age. Things like dictionaries will only disappear if we let them. If you like having a dictionary around, go out and buy one.

___________________________

ON DICTIONARIES AND LANGUAGE

Here’s Why “On Fleek” Isn’t in the Dictionary, Yet (Interview)
In her new book, Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, Kory Stamper spins various adventures in lexicography with exuberance and wit to spare. Unlike what you might think about the dictionary, Stamper is out to prove language and word usage don’t have to be super-rigid. You can use “literally” in all kinds of ways, and there are many plural of octopus.

Connections: New words added to the dictionary, and how language evolves
Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Dictionaries have added more than 1,000 new words to their databases. Some of the words, like “microagression” and “safe space” have been used for years, but have gained enough popularity to be added now. Other words and phrases, like “humblebrag” and “face-palm” are raising questions because they seem trendy and like slang.

English language ‘organised’ itself for centuries: study
The English language has effectively organised itself for centuries, even without any kind of oversight or control from an official body, according to a new study.

What’s a bunnyhug? The new edition of the Dictionary of Canadianisms
Do you know what a “bunnyhug” is? How about the Big-O? They’re just a couple of Canadianisms – words with their own specific meaning in Canada, and both found in the soon to be released second edition of the Dictionary of Canadianisms.

Washington Post and Jigsaw launch a collaborative pop-up dictionary of security jargon
Information security’s biggest obstacle isn’t the mere insecurity of so many of our tools and services: it’s the widespread lack of general knowledge about fundamental security concepts, which allows scammers to trick people into turning off or ignoring security red flags. Explaining these concepts isn’t easy, but it can be done. To that end, Jigsaw — Google’s online safety division — and the Washington Post are creating a collaborative, visual pop-up dictionary that explains difficult security concepts with analogies, metaphors and images.

___________________________

ON ENCYCLOPEDIAS

Wikipedia Bans Daily Mail
An investigation by this paper has revealed how Wikipedia banned the Daily Mail as a source after just 53 out of its 30 million editors voted to do so.

China’s ‘biggest online encyclopedia’ apologizes for selling fake entries on its open platform
Hudong Baike has apologized for allowing fake content to be posted on its online encyclopedia platform. The apology followed an exposé by state broadcaster CCTV.

Editor’s Note: Are you sensing a trend with online references? I am. User beware.

A Comprehensive Encyclopedia On African Art Is In The Works
Writer and art historian, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim is taking on the enormous task of cataloguing art history from the continent.

___________________________

ON WORDS

What Does ‘Complicit’ Mean? SNL Skit Makes Word Most Popular Search On Merriam-Webster, Dictionary Says
Ivanka Trump’s eponymous perfume is a top-seller on Amazon.com, but “Saturday Night Live” gave her a new eau de parfum—and its name was Merriam-Webster’s most-searched word Sunday.

After two years —and three dictionaries — Florida court defines ‘sexual intercourse’
It took two years and three dictionaries, but the Florida Supreme Court finally determined Thursday that “sexual intercourse” isn’t just between a man and a woman.

13 words that no one uses anymore
Language expert Robbie Love, from Lancaster University, compiled the most popular words from the 1990s which have since declined the most drastically and the top words — not around in the in the 1990s — which are hugely popular today.

Capturing “Take” for the Dictionary
A Merriam-Webster editor’s knock-down, drag-out battle to define a deceptively small, innocent word.

‘Done and Done’
I texted my wife the other day asking whether she had walked the dog. She answered, “Done and done.” I was like, “Wait — what and what??”

Ed. Note: I say this all the time. What’s the big deal?

And the winner of best swear word is…
An analysis of more than 500,000 online product reviews found that [Britons use] this curse word more frequently than any other when giving negative feedback.

In a Word . . . Bell
Now there’s an intriguing word: campanology.

Editor’s Note: this article gives St. Patrick a passing mention. If you haven’t seen it, the ARL put up a post about this snake-driver on his feast day. Check it out.

Where the word ‘shroff’ came from, and its many meanings
Money changer, silver expert, customs officer, court money collector, cashier’s office – a word originally borrowed by English from India, which coined it from Arabic, has meant different things down the years.

The Secret Code Word for When the Queen Dies Has Been Revealed
When the Queen dies a exhaustive plan of how the nation will be told and what happens in following days and hours will swing into action. It includes a special code word for the Queen and a highly detailed plan with everything from her undertakers name to the number of pall bearers and the length of gunfire salute in her honor.

Is ‘hell’ a curse word?
Is ‘hell’ a curse word? Teens face the wrath of angry parents as they take part in ‘Hell Challenge’, asking their moms and dads if the word is profane, provoking some furious responses.

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Well, that’s it for this Reference News Roundup. To see past installments, visit the following:

RNR – Volume 1          RNR – Volume 2          RNR – Volume 3

 

 

ARL Archive · The Art of the Dictionary

Going Round and Round with Saturn

[Note: My original intent for this post was simply to show some of the cool art that adorns the various dictionaries and other books in the ARL’s collection under the heading of “The Art of the Dictionary.” Unfortunately, I got carried away and ended up writing a full-blown post on a hopelessly intriguing figure who’s shrouded in mystery: Saturn.]

saturn-1
Credit: Dictionary of Symbols

Not long ago, when I was suffering through what I can only call a dark time, I turned to more than a few of the books in my library to find some answers as to what might be happening and why. (I tried a shrink too, but the books were more useful.) One of them that left a “mark” was Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul, which has a chapter with the rather curious title, “Gifts of Depression.” Within that chapter is a section bearing the sub-heading, “Saturn’s Child,” which contains sentiments like this:

… There was a time, five or six hundred years ago, when melancholy was identified with the Roman god Saturn. To be depressed was to be “in Saturn,” and a person chronically disposed to melancholy was known as a “child of Saturn.” […] These melancholic thoughts are are deeply rooted in Saturn’s preference for days gone by, for memory and the sense that time is passing. These thoughts and feelings, sad as they are, favor the soul’s desire to be both in time and in eternity, and so in a strange way, can be pleasing.

In traditional texts, Saturn is characterized as cold and distant … Saturn was also traditionally identified with the metal lead, giving the soul weight and density, allowing the light, airy elements to coalesce…. As we age, our ideas, formerly light and rambling, and unrelated to each other, become more densely gathered into values and philosophy, giving our lives substance and firmness.

For whatever reason, these words of Moore’s have stuck with me and I’ve become a little obsessed with this notion of a sort of “god of melancholy.” So, naturally, I dug into the reference section of my library to learn more about this god of yore and to see if what Moore had to say about him was accurate.

What I found, not surprisingly perhaps, were differing myths surrounding Saturn and a rich symbolic history that seems to contradict the myths without completely destroying the somewhat tenuous, yet highly visible thread that weaves its way through and unites them all.

saturn-2
Credit: Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature

Here are a few excerpts demonstrating both those contradictions and unifying themes.

________________

Saturn symbolizes time, with its ravenous appetite for life, devours all its creations, whether they are beings, things, ideas or sentiments. He is also symbolic of the insufficiency, in the mystic sense, of any order of existence within the plane of the temporal, or the necessity for the “reign of Cronos” to be succeeded by another cosmic mode of existence in which time has no place. Time brings restlessness–the sense of duration lasting from the moment of stimulus up to the instant of satisfaction. Hence Saturn is symbolic of activity, of slow, implacable dynamism, of realization and communication; and this is why he is said to have devoured his children and why he is related to the Ouroboros (or the serpent which bites its own tail). Other attributes are the oar (standing for navigation nad progress in things temporal), the hourglass and the scythe. In the scythe we can detect a double meaning: first, its function of cutting parallel to and corroborating the symbolism of devouring; and, secondly, its curved shape, which invariably corresponds to the feminine principle. This is why … Saturn takes on the same characteristic ambiguity of gender and sex, and is related to the earth, the sarcophagus and putrefaction, as well as the color black…. Saturn is in every case, a symbol of the law of limitation which gives shape to life, or the localized expression in time and space of the universal life.

A Dictionary of Symbols

A very old Italian god identified with Cronus. He was said to have come from Greece to Italy in very early times, when Jupiter dethroned him and hurled him from Olympus. He established himself on the Capitol, on the site of Rome, and founded a village there, which bore the name of Saturnia. The reign of Saturn was extremely prosperous. This was the Golden Age. Saturn taught people how to cultivate the ground…. He was depicted armed with a scythe and his name was was associated with the invention of viticulture. He was, however, sometimes considered as a god of the underworld.

Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology

[Speaking of his reign in Italy …] Men lived like the gods, without care, in uninterrupted happiness, health, and strength; they did not grow old; and to them death was a slumber which relieved them of their present nature and transformed them into daemons. The earth yielded every kind of fruit and gave up all its treasures without cultivation or labor. Under the reign of Saturn, men lived a life of paradise.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature

ARL Archive · Reference News Roundup

Reference News Roundup

newspaper-peepsGreetings Papercutters! It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for this week’s Reference News Roundup.

I know, this is the first one, so you didn’t know that Fridays and round-ups of reference news were linked. Well, they are, or at least they will be on most Fridays around here. So if this is your kind of thing, read on and, of course, tell your friends.

Note: This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of reference and reference-related news from the past week. Rather, the items contained herein are those that struck my fancy and/or say something important about our world and the role reference books play within it.

Thanks for tuning in and, if you feel like discussing any of the contents below, then leave a comment!

Word.

________________________________

I. Current Events

The OED is thinking about adding a batch of Trumpisms
Yahoo.com

The Oxford English Dictionary is considering fast-tracking a host of new Trump-related words into its hallowed pages.

Dictionaries Are Tracking Trumpian Word Usage To Update The English Language Accordingly
Huffingtonpost.com

How much power does an American president have? Enough, apparently, to issue executive orders considered unsound by ethicists. And enough to alter the language we use, as evidenced by dictionary updates centered on heads of state past and present.

Dictionary Searches for “Betrayal” Spike After Spicer’s Comments on Sally Yates Firing
Hollywoodreporter.com (!)

After the White House press secretary refused to define the word, Merriam-Webster responded with a lengthy definition.

Many looked to the dictionary for help on Tuesday to define “betrayal,” a word that played a large part in White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s news conference about the firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

Merriam-Webster gets a little bit cheeky
USAToday.com

If dictionaries are supposed to be dry, and to the point, Merriam-Webster has officially broken the mold.

Merriam-Webster’s Twitter account has delighted the masses in the last few years by jumping into hot-topic issues with a dosage of the truth — or the definition at least.

We covered this in our first post. Check it out. (More articles on that page.)

II. Enclyclopedia News

Oslo Bookshop’s Fundraising Encyclopedia Draws Starry International Contributions
TheGuardian.com

A “subjective encyclopedia”, described by its creators as a “freak of publishing nature” designed to save a struggling Norwegian bookshop from closure, has proved a hit after a host of well-known names including Jarvis Cocker, George Saunders and Jonathan Lethem contributed entries.

The Inner Workings of Wikipedia
TheGuardian.com

Fifteen years ago, the idea of a free, digital encyclopedia, compiled and edited almost entirely by volunteers, and available at no cost to everyone, seemed like an idealistic fantasy. Today, Wikipedia offers millions of articles in hundreds of languages, and continues to grow every day. And it is easier than you might think to contribute to that growth.

They were once a pinnacle of science, and now they’re almost gone: Are encyclopedias obsolete?
ZMEscience.com

Today, encyclopedias are almost forgotten for all but a small number of nostalgics. Bookshops are rarely selling them anymore, old bookshops aren’t valuing them anymore, and even charities have a hard time giving them away.

Into the history books: Encyclopedias virtually ‘worthless’
TheNewDaily.com.au
They were once a huge investment for the family home and a vital part of any school library, but encyclopedias have now passed into history and can barely be given away.

All I’m going to say about these encyclopedia are worthless articles is that I used one for yesterday’s post.

III. New Additions, Words of the Year, and the Like

How ‘heaty’ and ‘cooling’ made it to the Oxford English Dictionary
SCMP.com

Cultural concepts, such as words used to describe the nature of foods in traditional Chinese medicine, are now part of the English language.

Dumpster Fire, Brexit, Fake News
Slate.com

Started in 1990 by a small group of linguists, Word of the Year has spread like a video of an anarchist punching a Nazi that’s been set to music.

HSP enters dictionary
Sheppnews.com.au

The rise in popularity of the Halal Snack Pack (HSP) has seen the fast-food item voted Macquarie Dictionary’s people’s choice word of the year for 2016.

IV. Slang and Newly Coined

Merriam-Webster and the ACLU finally settle the ‘woah’ vs ‘whoa’ debate
Yahoo.com

Merriam-Webster and the ACLU have teamed up to solve a long-running spelling debate: is it spelled “whoa” or “woah”?

The Dublin dictionary: 19 slang terms you need to have in your life
Dublinlive.ie

If you’re struggling to understand co-worker from Tallaght, or you just want to brush up on your Dublinese, here are some of our favourite phrases in translation.

V. History

Calamity, a name and a disaster
Maitlandmercury.com.au

Several versions are given on the origins of calamity. Many dictionaries say of this word “a disaster”. If we go back far enough, we find that the word comes from the Latin calamitas. My Macquarie says it refers to great trouble, adversity, misery or a great misfortune or a disaster.

Historian Gerald Smith Shares Favorite Tales From The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia
UKY.edu

University of Kentucky’s history professor and Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar in Residence Gerald L. Smith with colleagues, professor emeritus at Kentucky State University Karen Cotton McDaniel and professor of history at Western Kentucky University John A. Hardin published a 550-page tome of historical treasures, The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, in 2015.
VI. WTF?

Survival and preparedness dictionary
Google.com

If you are new to the preparedness or survival mindset you may come across a lot of terminology and acronyms that you aren’t familiar with yet. Don’t be discouraged. The purpose of this article is to list some of those survival and preparedness terms and define them for you.

ARL Archive

Dictionaries to the Rescue

mw-tweet

The morning after the election, I tweeted something along the lines of, “If there is a silver lining to the election of Donald Trump, it’s that it should inspire a lot of good punk rock and metal over the next four years.”

Little did I know that, in addition to these forthcoming musical gems, this knuckle head’s rise to power would also get the folks behind some of our lexicographical institutions all fired up!

This whole thing started last Sunday, when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told Chuck Todd of NBC that that Trump Press Secretary Shawn Spicer was offering “alternative facts” when he told reporters that, “[The crowd at Trump’s swearing-in] was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

Not missing a beat, Merriam-Webster began making fun of the Trump administration through its Twitter feed, taking Conway to task for trying to sell “alternative facts” as, you know, a thing.
mw2
“A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the dictionary company said in a  tweet that linked to a Merriam-Webster posting about how look-ups for the word “fact” spiked after Conway’s comment.

As awesome as that initial ribbing was, the story continues to get better as Merriam-Webster has continued to school the Trump administration on its use of words … or at least it’s attempts to use them.

And so, for its continued efforts to educate our “president,” as well as for its success in making dictionaries cool again, we here at the ARLCP tip our hats to Merriam-Webster. Hence our decision to make this lexicographical kerfluffle our “News Item of the Week.”

For more on the dictionary’s revenge, see the following articles:

Subtweet (v.): What Merriam-Webster Dictionary Is Doing to the President
NBCNews.com

Did a dictionary diss Trump team’s ‘alternative facts’?
Politico.com

The dictionary that’s one of Trump’s funniest fact checkers
WCTI12.com

Trump Derangement Syndrome? Urban Dictionary has bashed president every day since inauguration
Washington Times

We Talked to the Genius Behind the Viral Merriam-Webster Twitter Account
Broadly.vice.com