Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Undictionaried Words

“A word to the wise ain’t necessary…”


That title is only the beginning of a quote from the comedian Bill Cosby.

Here’s the full quote: “A word to the wise ain’t necessary—it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.”

And, to be honest with you, our current world culture is full of folks who are in charge but are eminently stupid.

Let’s check a dictionary for “stupid” and compare it with the actions of just one group of people who are, sadly, “in charge”—financiers.

STUPID = “Lacking or marked by lack of intellectual acuity; in a state of mental numbness especially as resulting from shock; lacking intelligence; and, devoid of good sense or judgment.”

You may not agree with my assessment of financiers but using dictionaries is undeniably important in Reading, Writing, and Publishing—the three main topics of this blog.

Last year, I wrote a post called Dictionary Evangelist. I do hope you’ll take that link and watch the video there—go ahead—I’ll wait right here

So, that was Erin McKean, a founder and the CEO of the online dictionary Wordnik and, previously, the Principal Editor of The New Oxford American Dictionary.

Wordnik is irrevocably Cool since it’s a dictionary that you can add words to—based on Erin’s philosophy that dictionaries shouldn’t be compiled by traffic cops but by folks who fish

This woman is definitely a phenomenon since she’s not only a celebrated lexicographer but also writes for The Boston Globe and has had a blog about dresses for 7 years ( A Dress A Day ).

Plus, she has a great article in The New York Times called Using Undictionaried Words—here’s an excerpt:

“…serve as your own lexicographer and shine your own light on largely undiscovered words. For it’s a kind of lexical Catch-22: since editors at most traditional dictionaries won’t include a word until they see published evidence of its use, holding off on using a word just because it’s not in the dictionary can actually delay its inclusion.”

Not hard to see why I, a man whose favorite word is “word”, find this woman’s work fascinating
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