This day honors Noah Webster, the man who fathered the American Dictionary. It’s one of my favorite holidays because I love dictionaries.
As a child, I’d spend hours poring through the pages of my grandmother’s eight-inch-thick Webster’s New International Dictionary (of the English Language). It was a fertile resource for a blossoming logophile or, as I prefer to call myself – a wordsmith.
The ancient leather-bound book with its India-skin paper had leather alphabet tabs cut into the pages. The detailed illustrations and maps are gorgeous. There were diagrams, charts, and thousands of words.
With so many dictionary resources readily available online, it’s easy to believe a hard copy isn’t necessary anymore. I disagree. Every home should have at least one realio-trulio paper dictionary available.
All sorts of wonderful magical stuff can happen when you use a hardcopy dictionary instead of looking up definitions online.
Your finger glides over other words as it scrolls down the printed page. Words that you might never have seen right there at your fingertips. You can see a word’s origin and its root without clicking to a different screen for synonyms and antonyms.
Yes, all that’s included with online dictionaries, but do you scroll down to discover the rest of the entry?
Understanding meaning is important. I learned that from my British antiques business partner. His British accent and my Texas drawl tended to muddle discussions and complicate purchases for the shop when the English and American definitions didn’t match. The King’s English Dictionary he gave me saved us many times over.
Spelling can be a problem no matter what type of dictionary you use. I stump spell checkers 90% of the time. Plus, spell checkers don’t give definitions.
I keep 20,000 WORDS by Louis A. Leslie side-by-side with my dictionary for fast lookup of commonly misspelled words. This little jewel gets me through my writing day.
While you may never love dictionaries as I do, I still recommend you have a hard-copy dictionary handy. You never know what you might learn.