Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lost in the Dictionary...


Yes, I admit it. I have read the Dictionary for fun.
You’re either mocking me or not wanting to admit the same.
It’s fascinating.
Here’s how it happens:
A common word crosses your path, such as say…desk. You know what a desk is, certainly. As such, there would be no real reason to look it up. BUT, how do you define desk? An office table? No, that’s not right, for desks do not have to be used in offices and they’re not traditionally tables used in the same way/function as one thinks of a table for eating. A level surface where one does work? Yes, but would you define it that way? See what I mean? I get curious. How does the Dictionary convey the correct meaning concisely? In the case of “desk” it’s “an article of furniture having a broad, usually level, writing surface, as well as drawers or compartments for papers, writing materials, etc.” Okay, so perhaps it’s not so succinct. But if you’re like me, you find it interesting to see how it is done. After all, a Dictionary has to explain accurately to someone who doesn’t know what the word means. What happens next, for me at least, is that another word in the definition strikes me. For instance, compartments. Ooo. How is that defined? Seriously. Try coming up with a definition on your own. And so on...until skipping about in the Dictionary has eaten up a chunk of time. It’s not fun online. There is something about flipping pages in a thick tome that adds to the pleasure.

It’s not just meanings of words. I am interested in etymology as well. I love to find out where words come from and how they develop.

Sometimes I like to nitpick about the meaning of words…when we say “That necklace is fabulous!” are we stating that right? In other words (ha!) is the necklace truly like a fable? “What a fantastic book!” Granted, a book can be in the fantasy genre, but the same word can be applied to a self-help book, perhaps. So is the work really a fantasy?

Only or merely the product of mental activity; that which one thinks. [i.e. Just a thought.]

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
– Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

2 comments:

Kathy a.k.a. MyDevilDante said...

ok. that is just too funny. X)

Sunshine said...

Compartment: A division or section of a larger structure?

OK- How about "GORGEOUS"-- it's so beautiful you want to gorge yourself on it?
or "INSPIRE"-- literally-- to breathe in. i love that one. As opposed to "expire"- to breathe out. So if your credit card has "expired" has it breathed out? Kinda creepy.
Or how about to "rehearse." That one's totally screwy. "re" is easy-- to do again. But "hearse" is more problematic. Are we saying to put someone in a funereal vehicle again? Is that how we rehearse a play? Or is "hearse" the one of the more archaic definitions-- like, a big gate that bars enemy entrance? Are we regating? Or- to harrow or to recite? This possibly makes the most sense. Until you realize that if it's to recite- then we're saying it's to re-re-cite. To re-re-say. Sigh.
So, no, Pete. I've never thought about these things. They're awesome.... AWE-SOME?