The Grammarnatrix

There’s no shame in the dictionary game

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This week the Grammarmatrix looks at some juicy words which were used last week to fully express ideas in the Insider: inimitable, cache, titular and of course more awesomer. Did you already know these words? Maybe you were able to glean their meaning from the context of their sentences. Perhaps you had to look them up? There’s no shame in that; the Grammarmatrix looks up words all the time! And that’s what this article is all about – dictionaries!
The most prestigious and detailed dictionary ever made is the Oxford English Dictionary. The idea came about because some very proper Englishmen of the Philological Society in the 1850s wanted English to become the dominant language of the world. Oh those English! One of their first dictionaries was for the English smart set: a book with only the choicest and sesquipedalian words (remember, there’s no opprobrium in looking up a word!).
The dictionary took about 70 years to complete. That is because they gathered quotations from the earliest uses of English to illustrate the use of every word in the language. They did it to be precise and show how words changed over the centuries. Each of the 600,000 words had many references and examples from centuries ago. Bloody time-consuming if you ask the Grammarmatrix!
The process of creating the most comprehensive dictionary ever is told in an engrossing book called The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. Murder, insanity and the obsession of words brings men together to create the most respected dictionary in the world. In reading it, however, you’ll need a dictionary by your side (at least the Grammarmatrix needed one). Would you expect less from a book about words?!
So, feel free to use dictionaries, increase your vocabulary and enjoy the juicy words used by the inimitable Insider.


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