Contributions To A Modern Dictionary
When it comes to great reference books, a few names stand head and shoulders above others (even though, strictly speaking, names have neither feet nor heads nor shoulders, and thus we must admit the rhetorical flourish is rather strained). Diderot and Samuel Johnson are the pre-eminent names that come to mind; William Chester Minor is perhaps less well-known but was a prolific contributor to the very first Oxford English Dictionary — a work which ultimately became the arbiter ne plus ultra of the English language.
Today the OED comprises over 171,000 words, each with its guide to pronunciation, definitions, and illustrations of usage. But even the most ardent enthusiast of the OED, among whom I certainly count myself, must admit that age hath alas somewhat withered it and custom rather staled its infinite variety. Like a geriatric spinster desperate to remain “relevant” the OED each year announces with great fanfare its most recent incorporation of trendy words (clusterfuck and omnishambles both being perfect synonyms for that other recent neologism Brexit). Yet the addition of a few transiently flickering verbal sequins on the hem of an old Edwardian literary gown do little, in truth, to help sustain the OED as we stumble and squirm through today’s curious world.
It is thus I offer in the spirit of a true lexicographer a few timely additions penned in a new appropriately slimmed-down yet also inevitably bloated format that may in some small way help restore relevance to the Grand Old Dame of dictionaries.
Let’s begin with the first letter of the alphabet: Amazon:
We continue our gentle foray through the alphabet with Democracy:
Shuffling forward to the middle of the alphabet and coincidentally also the to middle of the Gaussian distribution of IQ we reach Moron:
No contribution to a techno-savvy on-trend dictionary could possibly skip Social Media:
No strangely-colored jelly-like quivering invertebrate has benefited more from social media than our next entry: Trump:
We end, appropriately enough, near the perpetually loose sphincter of the alphabet with Venture Capitalist:
And so, dear reader, we reach the end of this series of brief additions to the magnificent compendium of human knowledge that is the OED. Amateur lexicographers regardless of gender identification, skintone affiliation, or cultural persuasion are invited to make their own contributions at any time. For now, we may simply note that Samuel Johnson wrote that such as he and each who may aspire to follow in his illustrious (if rather ill-tempered) footsteps is but a harmless drudge.