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When people talk about whether a word is "in the dictionary," have you stopped to think about what "the dictionary" actually means? In the following excerpt from her new book How to Read a Word, Elizabeth Knowles takes readers on a brief tour of the dictionary and its historical authority, informed by the likes of Voltaire and Samuel Johnson.  Continue reading...
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Earlier this month, lexiphiles were glued to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, as Sukanya Roy of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania won a grueling 20-round contest. As the drama unfolded on national television, the viewing audience got to hear some incredibly obscure words, along with their definitions, all read aloud from a great American dictionary now celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Continue reading...
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The Supreme Court is using dictionaries to interpret the Constitution. Both conservative justices, who believe the Constitution means today exactly what the Framers meant in the 18th century, and liberal ones, who see the Constitution as a living, breathing document changing with the times, are turning to dictionaries more than ever to interpret our laws.  Continue reading...
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A new batch of words has been added to Oxford Dictionaries Online, and the additions lean heavily on the lingo of online communication. "The world of computers and social networking continues to be a major influence on the English language," the Oxford announcement says, and sure enough the list has everything from Twittersphere to overshare to ZOMG. (The last one is a playfully misspelled version of OMG, as if someone is a bit too excited to type it correctly.) A sample follows below.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Dictionaries and the Supreme Court

Supreme Court justices are increasingly turning to dictionaries for semantic support when writing decisions, according to Adam Liptak of The New York Times. But Oxford English Dictionary editor at large Jesse Sheidlower says, "I think that it’s probably wrong, in almost all situations, to use a dictionary in the courtroom." Read the article here.
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Blog Excerpts

Hip-Hop in the Dictionary

Visual Thesaurus editor Ben Zimmer is in Montreal for the Dictionary of Society of North America biennial conference. He checked in with the CBC Radio show "Q" to give a preview of his talk on how lexicographers trace hip-hop slang from its earliest roots. You can hear the interview here, starting at about one hour into the June 8th podcast.
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The OED has put ♥ into the dictionary, along with such internet terms as OMG. At least that's what the headlines are screaming, and commentators world-wide have been praising or damning the dictionary editors' decision to go both graphic and digital.  Continue reading...
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4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 111 Articles