A synonym for dictionary. A person’s vocabulary or language. A branch of knowledge.
Words are fun. I’ve always enjoyed playing with them and adding them to my vocabulary, often without even giving them a second thought. I collect them through reading. In the old days of paper and ink dictionaries, I’d be looking up a word and get distracted by another word and another, on and on, until I’d forget the one I was originally looking for. Or the definition of the word I was looking for included one I didn’t know, so I’d have to look that one up, too. That was part of the delight of dictionaries.
We used to have more than half a dozen dictionaries at home. A couple of English dictionaries, hardback and paperback. Latvian dictionaries come in two volumes, English/Latvian and Latvian/English. For school, I had an English/Spanish dictionary. Because my parents knew German and Russian, we had English/German and English/Russian dictionaries in our collection of lexicons.
Online dictionaries are great. I use them all the time, even though I have a fat, heavy real dictionary and intend to keep it forever. If for some reason the internet disappears, I want to be able to look up words.
My favorite dictionary is Merriam-Webster. Their online version has handy tips on how to use a particular word, examples of it in sentences, information on when a word was first known to have been used, its origins, and how it may have changed over the years. Among the other features, M-W also has vocabulary quizzes, trending words, and podcasts. It’s also helpful that you don’t have to know the exact spelling of a word in order to look it up. Get an approximation and Merriam-Webster will give you a list of possible correct spellings and links to the definition.
Useful as an online dictionary is, you have to know the word in order to look it up. You’ll be shown words with similar meanings, synonyms, and antonyms, but there’s little opportunity to stumble across new ones. Merriam-Webster also has a thesaurus. If you cant’ think of the word hubbub, you can look up “din” and there’s hubbub in the list of synonyms.
Some words just stick in my mind. I’m not sure why some do and many others don’t. Maybe it’s their sound or the context in which I learned them. Ages later, I still remember the word hylozoism (a doctrine held especially by early Greek philosophers that all matter has life) from my Asian Philosophy class.
From a mystery novel, I learned the word crepuscular–an ugly sounding word for a pretty time of day–twilight. It seems more like one of the plagues visited on the Biblical character, Job.
Susurrus is a lovely, onomatopoeic word (a word that sounds like what it defines) Susurrus means, a “whispering or rustling sound.”
One word that sticks in my mind is flivver. Probably because of its fun sound. It means a cheap car, that’s most likely in bad condition. Its first recorded use was in 1910 and might have been used to describe Henry Ford’s, Model T.
There are many more words I’d love to share and will do so in future posts.