Austin Kleon with some excellent advice: "Go to Goodwill and buy a gigantic used paper dictionary for $5 and keep it on your desk."
When you’re looking for a word to replace a word in your writing, John McPhee suggests skipping the thesaurus and going straight to the dictionary: "With dictionaries, I spend a great deal more time looking up words I know than words I have never heard of—at least ninety-nine to one. The dictionary definitions of words you are trying to replace are far more likely to help you out than a scattershot wad from a thesaurus."
The dictionary not only gives you a gives you a list synonyms for the word you’re looking up, it also gives you a deeper understanding of the meaning of the word, and sometimes the definition can lead you to a better way of phrasing altogether. (Stephen King: “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word.”)
There are benefits to spending a little more to grab a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of English or Merriam-Websters; note that the ODE is not the OED [Amazon] which is on another level of logophilia entirely. Get it as well.
On Thursday, June 4, 2020, a 22-year-old activist named Kennedy Mitchum reached out to the publishers of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to express her frustration with their definition of the word “racist:” A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular […]
Glasgow-based Collins Dictionary has chosen their 2018 Word of the Year: single-use. The adjective meaning “made to be used once only” beat out the abbreviation VAR (“video assistant referee”), floss (the dance, not the dental product), gammon (a white, angry male who supports Brexit), and plogging (a Swedish activity that involves jogging and picking up […]
While looking something else up, I came across Merriam-Webster’s new online “Time Traveler” feature today. It allows you to browse to see what words were first used in print for a particular year. For example: “Idiot box” was first used in 1955, “granola” in 1970, and “cyberpunk” in 1983. “Bloodletting” was used before the 12th […]
When revved-up kids used to dribble a basketball through the kitchen or practice their footwork with a soccer ball in front of the television, exasperated parents would often just send ‘em outside to play. But these days, sending kids out might not be the best course of action. Despite all the changes, many budding young […]
When you sit down to play a new AAA video game like The Last of Us 2, you probably assume it was created by gaming experts with insane levels of artistic and technical talent. And…you’d be right. Top developers are craftsmen of the highest order, pouring literally thousands of man-hours into creating the greatest gaming […]
Earlier this year, we learned that Python had finally accomplished a feat other programming languages had failed for decades, to surpass Java as the second most-used coding language in the world. For its versatility and ease of use alone, its ascent among programmers isn’t hugely surprising. Then when you factor in its key role in […]