Blog Excerpts

Has Shakespeare's Dictionary Been Discovered?

Just in time for William Shakespeare's 450th birthday comes word of what could be an extremely important Shakespearean find. Two rare-book dealers have in their possession a copy of a sixteenth-century quadrilingual dictionary (bought on eBay!) that they claim belonged to Shakespeare himself. The dictionary is already known to be a favorite reference of the Bard, and the owners of this copy think the annotations are in Shakespeare's hand. But there are already many doubters. Read about it in the Guardian here.
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Scrabble Showdown: "Zen" Versus... "Geocache"?

In Hasbro's "Scrabble Word Showdown," fans of the game have been narrowing down candidates for a new word to include the game's soon-to-be-revised official dictionary. Two finalists are left standing: zen (which many Scrabblers have been requesting), and... geocache, the recipient of a big get-out-the-vote effort by fans of the high-tech treasure hunt known as "geocaching." See the latest from Hasbro here, and read Caitlin Dewey's take in the Washington Post here. Update: And the winner is... geocache!
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Which Word Should Go Into the Next Scrabble Dictionary?

Hasbro, the company that makes Scrabble, is revising the game's official dictionary, and they're letting Scrabble fans pick one of the words to include. Some worthy contenders include zen, ew, and bestie. You can join in the Scrabble Word Showdown on Facebook here, and check out the authoritative take on Hasbro's contest from Stefan Fatsis on Slate here.
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A law firm that specializes in defending whistleblowers has started a petition on Change.org to persuade dictionaries and thesauruses to ditch their derogatory synonyms for whistleblower in favor of positive terms.  Continue reading...
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It's a popularly held idea that dictionary writers have the power to add words to the lexicon when in fact language is changed the by people who use it and the job of the lexigrographer is to take note. Our own Ben Zimmer revisits this distinction in a look at a recent episode of the Nickelodeon teen comedy "Sam & Cat," in which the titular characters take on word-creation head on.  Continue reading...
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"Selfie" Wins as Oxford's Word of the Year

The word selfie, defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself," took over social media this year, so it's no surprise that it has also been named as Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries. Selfie beat out other contenders like bitcoin, binge-watch, and of course, twerk. Read the full announcement from Oxford University Press here.
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Happy Dictionary Day!

October 16th is National Dictionary Day, commemorating the birth of the great lexicographer Noah Webster. Celebrate by delving into our archive for articles about Webster and the world of dictionaries. A sampling: "Noah Webster at 250: A Visionary or a Crackpot?," "The Case for Dictionary Day," "The Birth of Webster's Dictionary," and "Dictionary Day and the Quest for All-American Words."
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