2019-01-29 Dictionary

If you are writing, you owe it to yourself to read this blog post from 2014 about a dictionary: You’re probably using the wrong dictionary. It’s so beautiful! It brings tears to my eyes.

Did you see that last clause? “To shine with a soft and fitful luster, as eyes suffused with tears, or flowers wet with dew.” I’m not sure why you won’t find writing like that in dictionaries these days, but you won’t.

They’re talking about Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language and using examples from the 1913 edition which appears to be much better than all modern dictionaries.

What I mean is that with its blunt authority the New Oxford definition of “pathos” — “a quality that evokes pity or sadness” — shuts down the conversation, it shuts down your thinking about the word, while the Webster’s version gets your wheels turning: it seems so much more provisional — “that which awakens tender emotions, such as pity, sorrow, and the like; contagious warmth of feeling, action, or expression; pathetic quality; as, the pathos of a picture, of a poem, or of a cry” — and therefore alive.

It also has instructions on how to install it on a Mac. I guess I want it installed on my phone? I installed the Webster’s 1913 app on my phone.



That was a beautiful read. I wonder if there is such a dictionary in Spanish.

– Enzo 2019-01-30 06:42 UTC

Or in German! There’s Duden and Bertelsmann and neither registered as “beautiful.”

– Alex Schroeder 2019-01-30 07:14 UTC

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