Reading the dictionary

BBC News: The man who reads dictionaries.

Ammon Shea spent a year reading the Oxford English Dictionary – 20 volumes, 21,730 pages and 59 million words – and he rates poring over a dictionary as enriching as reading a novel. Why? The prospect of talking to a man who reads dictionaries for fun prompts a sudden vocabulary-insecurity complex and a fear that every word he utters might sound like a painful medical condition. But thanks to Ammon Shea’s belief that long words only hinder conversations, there’s no need to consult any dictionaries while he clearly explains his eccentric hobby.

I used to read the dictionary and encyclopaedia when I was a child, but I didn’t make it through the whole OED. I memorised how to spell archaeologist for a spelling test at age seven, by age eleven we were working on rhinoceros, simultaneous, and rhododendron (yes, I spelled those correctly all by myself. Missed the second ‘e’ in archaeopteryx though).

The follow up article is 50 of your favourite words and includes gems like spanghew (to cause (esp. a toad or frog) to fly into the air off the end of a stick), quidnunc (one who gossips), and petrichor (the sweet smell of rain on dry earth). Petrichor describes something Hubby always comments on, now we know a word for it.

Edited to add:

Another interesting BBC News article, Why you should avoid ‘mingqutnguaq’, about different Eskimo words for snow.

3 thoughts on “Reading the dictionary”

  1. As my email sig says:

    “I like the way the air smells when the rain comes.

    It smells like clean slates and second chances.”

    Helen Colhoun-Wassinger

  2. I’d be a happy camper perusing a dictionary. One of my favorite words, particularly when online shopping for yarn, is oniochalasia.

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