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Sweatpants and Pop Culture l Celebrating Webster’s Birthday with Dictionary Day

By Jerusha Gray

Dictionaries have expanded a great deal over the years. The format has grown and changed with our collective interests and the advent of technology. I use sites like: www.dictionary.com , http://www.merriam-webster.com , or https://en.oxforddictionaries.com every day. Without a dictionary how else would I know words like bombilate (to hum or make a buzzing noise), or lalochezia (the use of profanity to emotionally release stress or pain.)?

October 16th is Noah Webster’s Birthday. We celebrate the founder of the American Dictionary with a nationwide celebration of  Dictionary Day.

In honor of this occasion, I pulled a few of my favorite dictionaries to share with you.

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary by Merriam-Webster

Scrabble is sacrosanct in my family. We play for keeps. I’ve only beaten my mother once in my entire life. It was 2010. It was a Thursday, and one of the proudest moments of my life. This dictionary needs to stay far far away from my mother or I will never ever win again.. She already slays me with 60+ point words. She doesn’t need the help.

Note to self: look-up words that start with q and don’t need a u. That kills me every time.

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence  by Francis Grose

This gem was written over 200 years ago as an upper class guide to street slang.

The description on this book sold me. I immediately put this gem on my Amazon wish list.  I learned my two new favorite words: mutton monger (a man addicted to ‘wenching’) and whiffles (a relaxation of the scrotum).

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You are welcome.

The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm: A Lexicon for Those of Us Who Are Better and Smarter Than the Rest of You by James Napoli

Confession time, I haven’t read this one. Though the title is incredibly alluring. This looks like prime time bathroom reading. You too can make your guests think that you are a pompous ass. Even better, grab this bad-boy and give it at the office white elephant Christmas party.

The Highly Selective Dictionary of Golden Adjectives for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich.

This collection has over 850 ways to delight and engage the people around you. I learned the word zaftig, which refers to a woman who is curvaceous, voluptuous, and pleasing to the eye. It comes from the Yiddish word zaftik which roughly translates to juicy or succulent.

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Sir Mix-A-Lot rapped of his fondness for zaftig beauties in the hit: Baby Got Back.

The Klingon Dictionary by Marc Okrand

I thought someone was punking me when they told me that Klingon is a recognized language.

I did some google fact-checking and holy crap they were right. This version came out in 1992. It teaches us phrases such as “activate the tractor beam” and the essential “Surrender or Die!”

There is now a Klingon language institute. You can check it out here.

Want to put your new phone language skills to work? You should definitely check out The Klingon Hamlet by William Shakespeare. This corrected piece has English Commentary as well.

And finally

Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse by Monica Valentinelli

“I aim to misbehave.”

I am a HUGE Firefly fan. I am still pissed that it got canceled. Every April, a bogus post circulates around on Facebook that they are doing a reunion. It makes me sad. I tear up every.damn.time.

If we can’t watch season two, at least we can escape into language of the ‘Verse and stay awhile.

Let’s lift our glass and say a big Happy Birthday to Mr. Webster. Thank you for taking the time to pull your landmark collection of words together. We too share your love of words, and will carry that tradition into the future.

Now how do I say that that in Klingon?

 

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Jerusha Gray

Jerusha Gray is insatiably curious. This curiosity, coupled with a brain that never shuts up, drives her to paint and draw, read prodigiously, make music, write, and sing in grocery stores.

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