Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Samuel Johnson

What *Is* The Right Word, Anyway?


Whether you’re a writer looking for the right word or a reader wondering what that particular word means, dictionaries can be handy.

Still, dictionaries have been mere snapshots of an ever-changing language

In the previous post, Dictionary Evangelist, there was an entertaining video of lexicographer, Erin McKean, who thought it was important to have a dictionary to which words could be continually added. Do checkout her creation, Wordnik, and add a few words :-)

I use a free program called WordWeb on my computer (which, sadly, is only for PCs) that lets me check spelling and meaning by highlighting any word in any program or web page and clicking a couple keys, voila!

And, if you want to trace the historical meanings and roots of words, even though many dictionaries have some of that, you might use an Etymology Dictionary.

Speaking of history, and staying with English, there is the famous dictionary of Samuel Johnson from 1755.

Going further into history and delving into the trials and challenges of lexicographers, spend some careful reading time with the Preface to Johnson’s 1755 dictionary.

Care to share any really strange words with us in the comments?

Have any words you’ve created that you’d like to see in the language?

Any words you think should be banned?
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