dic-tion-ar-y [dik-shuh-ner-ee] — noun, plural — ar-ies.
1. a book containing a selection of the words of a language, usually arranged alphabetically, giving information about their meanings, pronunciations, etymologies, inflected forms, etc. , expressed in either the same or another language; lexicon; glossary: a dictionary of English; a Japanese-English dictionary.
“If you were stranded on a desert island, what books would you want with you?”
I have finally decided that one of the books I would really want with me is a dictionary — a great big, unabridged dictionary. I love words and I love language. I like to look things up and to know what words mean and where they come from and how they have evolved. A dictionary would entertain me for a very long time.
If you are a word lover, too, I recommend the book, The Professor and the Madman: a Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester (HarperCollins, 1998).
The Professor and the Madman tells the story of one of the greatest literary achievements in the history of the English language — the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) . It is also the story of two men who played key roles, Professor James Murray and Dr. William Chester Minor. Murray was the distinguished editor of the OED project and Dr. Minor, an American surgeon, was one of the most prolific of the thousands of contributors who submitted illustrative quotations of words to be used in the dictionary.
Finding out how murder and insanity and dictionary-making (strange bedfellows indeed!) come together makes for a fascinating read.
Check it out at the BSC Library! (Call number: PE 1617 .O94 W56 1998)
Marlene Anderson, Director of Library Services
P.S. Simon wrote a second book about the OED — The Meaning of Everything: the Story of the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2003). It is also available at the BSC Library; call number: PE 1617 .O48 W558 2003.