Here are two related facts: (1) my eighth grade teacher gave out copying dictionary pages as a punishment. And (2) in eighth grade, I broke classroom rules during social studies.
Therefore, I copied plenty of dictionary pages.
Was that what made me want to be a writer? No! It made me want to pay more attention to the current event lessons and participate more in class and do my homework so I wouldn’t have to copy dictionary pages.
Was this what led me to a career in journalism? Probably not.
However, as a teenager, I did declare I wanted to be a writer. And my sister gave me a hardcover Tenth Edition of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for my 20th birthday.
I treasured it and her inscription: “May you write many stories, poems, thoughts … “
Ironically, I didn’t use it for writing. I had spell checker by then, later discovered Dictionary.com, and then the Look Up feature on Word. The thick tome with gold letters on a red cover did come in handy for Scrabble games, but now it is outdated and excludes many currently-acceptable scrabble words. So the relic is really just one of those nice-to-have things for this word nerd.
I came across the a book rest at a thrift store about five years ago; I bought it for fifty cents thinking it would make a great display for my dictionary. Yes, some people would think it more appropriate for a bible, and others use similar ones for cookbooks in the kitchen.
But for me, I think the dictionary is the good book in the house.
I’m launching “A Word on Wednesday” weekly feature here to draw attention to words — not words, which are obscure or snobby or hard to pronounce or complicated to spell. Each word will be selected because I think we should examine it more closely or use it more frequently or use it less flippantly. I may even dare to suggest some words to obliterate.
Next week, I’ll share my thoughts on “mining.”